Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How Not to Write, Pt 2

Seriously, did not take up my call to shred terrible writing. Am I the only one who gets pleasure out of ripping into poor writing and making it better? (Perhaps I am.)

As promised, here is my edited version. I actually could do two--fixing this one while leaving the content largely intact, and then a total rewrite (with the addition of specific, concrete details). I'm too lazy, however, to do the total rewrite, so I'll just leave that one to your imaginations. However, I do make suggestions for good places to stick details.
This letter is in recommendation for [Student Smith], an applicant for the [People Who Gave Us Money] Scholarship.

I have known [Student] for 12 years in several settings: as a student at [X] School District, as a member the [Random Church] Youth Group, and as a [academic discipline] student at the University. I have had the pleasure of working with him as both a youth adviser and as a staff member in the [academic department].

Throughout high school, he consistently ranked at the top of his class. A constant favorite with his high school teachers, [Student] is well-known for his hard work and dedication in academics and extracurricular activities. [Here's a place for concrete examples--awards, etc.]

[Student] fills the roles as both a young leader and a devoted honor student; I have every expectation that he will be successful. As a leader, he sets an example for his peers, [actively participating in class and volunteering for projects]. Since entering the university, he has shown a remarkable level of interest and dedication to his college education. His above average GPA ranks him [nth] in the [level] class, proving [Student's] commitment to his academics and to his future career. I look forward to observing him further develop here at the university and as a future [career title].

I believe that [Student Smith] is an energetic, well-respected, and talented individual who represents the desired qualities in a [People Who Gave Us Money] Scholarship recipient. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
See? Isn't that a bit better? Even if it's too indefinite to be a good recommendation letter, at least it's more active and the sentences are not ugly, though perhaps just a little homely. It's assertive, and unlike the other one, is not repetitive and passive. Hopefully you think it is an improvement as well.

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