Why You Should Discuss Real Estate With Weak Writers

Imagine you are shopping for a house.  You have seen so many houses that you have a good idea of what you like and what you don’t like.  You don’t like dark wood paneling in the family room.   You prefer wood floors to carpeted ones in general.  

 One day, you find a house that is just about perfect; it has everything you want, even the wood floors!  But when you have the house inspected, you learn that its foundation is weak – so weak, that the house is not structurally sound.  In other words, even thought it looks almost perfect, the house is almost worthless.  

In many ways, a well-written essay is like a well-built house.  If it has a solid structure, that is, if the writer has something worthwhile to say, can back it up, and can tell us why we need to know it, he is well on his way to writing a good essay.  But if the main point is not worth making, even grammatically perfect and well-organized essay will be a weak one. 

Students need to be reminded over and over again that writing is thinking on paper.  So if a writer has not thought hard about what she wants to say and why she needs to say it, her paper will not be a good one. If on the other hand, the writer has a good point to make and can back it up well, she has already scaled the biggest hurdle in writing a good paper. 

So the next time you read one of your student’s essays, remember to focus first on the basics

  • What point is this writer trying to make? 
  • Is it a good point? 
  • Can she back it up?” 

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” don’t bother talking to the writer about redundancies and run-on sentences.  Even if the writer were to get rid of redundancies and run-ons, the essay would be weak.  


The fundamental rule about a written work is that it can only be as good as the information it imparts. Or to use the words of writer Sholem Asch, “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”


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