- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

What Are Sure-Fire Tricks to Make My Academic Writing Stand Out Without Sounding Trite or Superficial?

Everyone wants to write an essay that stands out from the crowd. A unique writing style will catch the eye of the reader, whether that person is your professor, a college admissions counselor or the editing department of a publication. But no one wants to be “that person.” You know who he is. He is that student who thinks he is writing the most unique essay in the history of academia, yet it reads like an email or a Post-It on a refrigerator. How does a writer strike that balance between a paper that lulls a reader to high-brow academic sleep and one that reminds the reader of the last student who tried too hard?

Standout Papers

Your solution lies there, in the second type. When a typical student tries to write a unique, stand-out paper, he or she employs tricks that were used by the last student who wanted to write something unique. The paper ends up an individual, just like everybody else. What these students fail to realize is that too avoid this pitfall, all they have to do is write in their own voice.

Easy for me to say? Perhaps. But could it hurt to entertain the notion that you have a unique voice, one that will enable you to write a paper equally unique, without a hint of triteness? Have faith in yourself for a moment. Or at the very least, humor me. Writing is trite and superficial when it is false. Superficiality is, by definition, a lack of depth in a certain piece of work. And depth is lacking only when a writer neglects to write from his or her own honest perspective. The key to avoiding superficiality, then, lies in self-trust.

When a student, when any writer, tries to sound unique, only the effort transmits to the reader. The writer attempts to think of tricks, devices to catch the reader's attention. Unfortunately, the reader receives these tricks as what they are: constructed attempts at cleverness. This is why so many papers intended for uniqueness sound so glib and trite. Avoiding this trap, then, lies in your honesty as a writer. There I go again, you say, attempting to lull with easy answers. I will be the first to admit that developing your own voice as a writer will most likely not be easy. But the results will be worthwhile. I can assure you of that.

And so to catch the reader's attention, the first thing you must do is stop trying to catch the reader's attention. That done - and I will admit again that it is harder to accomplish than it sounds - you can set about writing what is in your head. And your head being like no one else’s head, the thoughts in it are also unique. The trick - no, the key - is getting those thoughts down on the paper, as honestly as possible and in as intact a form as possible. A technique that often proves effective is the flow-writing technique. Write the first paragraph without stopping, letting each word find its way directly onto the page without judgment or editing. Once you have finished one paragraph - or more; try not to stop yourself until you feel done - then read what you have written. Unique? Eye-catching? Sounds like you? Precisely.

Of course, you cannot write all papers in this way. You will eventually have to stop and edit, or think about what to say next. Particularly if you are writing a research paper, you will have to be methodical at one point or another. There is nothing wrong with doing so. Simply write what needs to be said, and then write the most honest and direct transition possible to reach your next paragraph. The points you are making are your own, even if they are researched. Write them as though you were telling another person about them. Let them come across in the voice in which you want them to be heard. There is nothing superficial about you; there is nothing superficial about your ideas. Let your writing be a communication of these ideas, and there will certainly be nothing superficial about your work.