In Paul Roberts essay, “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words”, he explains in detail all of the ways in which students can write an essay without making an actual statement. This essay exposes several ways that one could eliminate excessive wording and cut right to the actual meaning in an essay. While Roberts makes some important suggestions about producing real content and reinforcing claims with concrete evidence, his opinions seem to represent restrictions that undermine the need for individual expression and creativity when writing.
When writing an essay, many will formulate certain claims based on personal beliefs rather than factual evidence. Roberts gives an example of how a professional writer would write about juvenile delinquency; “He shows you juveniles being delinquent, tearing up movie theatres in Buffalo, stabbing high school principals in Dallas, smoking marijuana in Palo Alto.” Professional writers don’t give you a mere opinion on a subject, but rather they use facts, concrete evidence, and illustrations to explain themselves. For every assertion that is made in an essay, concrete evidence must follow. As the essay continues, one must keep supporting the claims that they make in order to maintain credibility. For example, many people make political statements without using any factual evidence to back themselves up. Therefore, in my opinion, what those people say is not credible. Like in any argument, one must have reasons for why they are for something or why they are against it.
Many students resort to “padding” when writing essays in order to take up as much space as they can. In the past, I have found myself guilty of this mistake. Robert’s interpretation of this topic made me re...
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...judgements of others during the process of composing an essay. I believe that William Stafford would disagree with many of these suggestions because of Robert’s regimented view point towards writing an essay. While I don’t think that Robert’s propositions should be completely disregarded, I do consider individual creativity to be an essential part of writing.
Robert’s essay touches on many very central aspects of utilizing ideas and putting them into words concisely and consistently. While Robert’s may have many good propositions about explaining yourself and avoiding excessive “wordiness”, his guidelines may suppress the creativity in the writing process. Writing should be something that is done freely and without the opinion of others. The more rules and guidelines that one has to follow in the process of writing, the more the imagination of the writer is limited.
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