Composition FAQ Question Index
This index contains all of the questions available on this FAQ, divided by type. Some questions may be repeated in two or more sections.
Consider the following as a primer for first-year college writing. These are the basic concepts that you should master as soon as possible.
- What writing knowledge should I already have coming into college?
- How do I get started writing?
- What questions do I need to ask as a writer?
- What is “critical thinking"?
- What is a “thesis statement”?
- How can my writing be more persuasive?
- Is it cheating or unethical to use an AI to help with writing?
College writers should have some basic knowledge of essay writing, such as the purpose of an essay, the different types of essays, and the components of an essay. They should also have a basic understanding of grammar and mechanics, including sentence structure, punctuation, and spelling. Additionally, they should have some experience with research and the proper citation of sources.
Rhetoric refers to the art of persuasion, using language to influence or persuade an audience to accept a particular point of view or take a specific action. Rhetoric involves the use of various strategies, including appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos, as well as the use of rhetorical devices such as metaphor, simile, and hyperbole.
The basic structural elements of college essay writing are the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The introduction should provide background information and a clear thesis statement. Body paragraphs should include supporting evidence and analysis of the thesis. The conclusion should summarize the main points of the essay and restate the thesis in a new way.
- How should an essay be organized?
- How do I write a strong title?
- How do I craft a strong opening sentence?
- What is an introduction of an essay?
- What is a “thesis statement”?
- What is the body of an essay?
- What is the conclusion of an essay?
- What is a “call to action” and how do I use one?
- What is a “topic sentence”?
- What is “unity”?
- What is “point of view”?
- What are “transitions”?
Grammar refers to the set of rules and conventions that govern the way we use language, including rules about word order, sentence structure, parts of speech, verb tenses, and so on. It is concerned with the correct usage of language to communicate ideas effectively and accurately.
- What is a “run-on” sentence?
- What is a “sentence fragment”?
- What is “subject/verb agreement”?
- What is “pronoun/antecedent agreement”?
- What are “coordinating conjunctions”?
Mechanics refers to the technical aspects of writing, such as spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and formatting. These details give writing clarity, readability, and professionalism. These questions do not cover all mechanical considerations, but those that seem to plague college writers, like proper conventions.
- How do I know when I need to use a comma?
- What is a “comma splice”?
- Is a comma really necessary after the last element in a list of three or more?
- How do I use a semicolon?
- How do possessives differ from plurals?
- What tense do I use when writing about texts?
- How do I present titles of poems, novels, etc. in my essay?
Style refers to the way a writer uses language to convey his or her ideas and express his or her personality. Style encompasses the writer’s choice of words, sentence structure, tone, and even punctuation. A writer’s style can be formal, informal, persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or any combination of these. It is what makes a writer’s work unique and identifiable. Good style is clear, concise, and appropriate for the audience and purpose of the writing.
- What is “style” and how can I make it more effective?
- What is “interesting detail” and how do I use it?
- What is “vague/weak” language and how do I avoid it?
- What is “point of view”?
- What is “tone”?
- What is wrong with “it” and “this”?
- What is the difference between “passive” and “active” voice?
- What is “word choice”?
- What is an “awkward sentence”?
- What is “redundancy”? Is it the same as “repetition”?
- What is “wordiness”?
- When is something “clichéd” or “trite”?
Revision and Editing Questions
Copyediting and revision are crucial components in composition. When you think you’re finished writing, it’s time to really get to work.
- What is “editing” and “revision”?
- What are some basic editing and revision strategies for new writers?
- What does it mean to “reflect” on my writing?
When we read a text critically, we analyze, evaluate, and interpret. Analysis involves breaking down a text or subject matter into its component parts and examining how those parts work together to create meaning. Evaluation involves making a judgment or assessment about the value or quality of a text or subject matter. Interpretation involves examining a text or subject matter and offering an explanation or understanding of its meaning.
Literary critic Christopher Hitchens once quipped: “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Supporting your essay with evidence, examples, and research increases your credibility and makes your argument more persuasive. Strong research is essential to most college writing.
- What is research and why is it important?
- How do I support my argument?
- How do I use strong evidence and examples?
- How do I find credible sources for my research paper?
- How do I know if sources are strong?
- What is “synthesis” and why is it important?
- Can I cite Wikipedia or Twitter in my essay?
- How do I integrate quotations and paraphrases?
- How do I correctly cite my sources?
- What is plagiarism and how can I avoid it?
- What's the best way to take research notes?
- How do I cite a source using MLA citation style?
When writing about literature, we are involved in a process called literary criticism. This involves careful readings of literary texts that form the basis of analysis and interpretation. Learning these skills is crucial for success in higher education.
- I’m not an English major: why should I write about literature?
- What are the basics of literary analysis?
- What are the basics of interpreting a literary text?
- What are the conventions and vocabulary necessary for writing about literature?
- What is “close reading”?
- What is “narrative”?
- What is “theme”?
- What is “simile” and “metaphor”?
- What is “symbolism”?
Literary Interpretation Questions
- What is “reader response”?
- What is a “cultural” approach to literature?
- What is a “deconstructive” approach to literature?
- What is an “ethical” approach to literature?
- What is a “feminist” approach to literature?
- What is a “formalist” approach to literature?
- What is a “Marxist” approach to literature?
- What is a “new critical” approach to literature?
- What is a “new historical” approach to literature?
- What is a “post-colonial” approach to literature?
- What is a “psychoanalytical” approach to literature?
|Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 06-2-2023; Version: Beta 0.7||💬|