Principles of Composition

Rules 12-16

Choose a suitable design and hold to it.

  • Writers deviate from their designs according to their skills, their needs, and unexpected events that may occur
  • A piece of writing must follow closely on the thought of the writer, but it does not need to be in the order in which these thoughts occur
  • In some cases the best design is no design
  • The clearer the design, the more successful your paper is

Use the active voice.

  • Using the active voice is more direct, concise, and bold.
  • Don't entirely disregard the passive voice
  • Active voice results in more vigorous and brief sentences.
  • Ex. I will always remember the Drake vs Lil Wayne concert.
  • This is better than saying "The Drake vs Lil Wayne concert will always be remembered by me."

Put statements in positive form.

  • Try to only use the word not as means of denial or antithesis
  • The reader prefers to be told what is as opposed to what's not
  • Negative words other than not are usually strong
  • Ex. Use "Maddie is dishonest" rather than "Maddie is not honest."
  • Negative words compared to positive words make a stronger structure.
  • Try to avoid using would, could, should, may, might, and can because if all sentences express doubt, you will show little authority.

Use definite, specific, concrete language.

  • The best way to grab a readers attention is by being specific, definite, and concrete.
  • Not every detail needs to be told, but when all significant details are given accurately, readers can imagine and project themselves into the scene.
  • Ex. She showed her appreciation for the lively music by throwing her hands up in the air.

Now try it yourself!

  1. Which sentence uses the active voice?

a. My first live concert will always be remembered.

b. I will always love my mom no matter what.

c. My food will be eaten in the next few minutes.


2. Which of these sentences is in positive form?

a. Alec is the most dishonest kid at Providence.

b. She did not remember to take out the trash when she got home.

c. Bella did not pay any attention to the stop sign while she was driving.


3. When is the use of "not" accepted?

a. Never

b. When using antithesis or denial.

c. When describing someone

How can you fix the following sentences?

1. The student was not happy when telling the teacher he forgot his homework.


2. You may not be able to get a parking spot if you continue to blast your music.


3. He was not often punctual.


4. My flight to Australia will be boarded in a few minutes.


5. It was sunny all month.