Six Traits for the Writing Process
This is the heart of the paper--what the writer has to say. It should be a topic that is important to the writer and should be small enough to handle in the paper. It should express the ideas clearly so every reader can understand and it should provide the reader with interesting insights. A solid, well-defined theme holds the paper together, giving a meaningful, focused, and detailed exploration of the topic.
This is the road map, which directs the reader through the paper. It begins with a strong lead or hook and catches the reader's interest right from the beginning. The details along the way should add to that lead and should help build toward the conclusion, pulling the reader along right to the very end. It should use good transitions to move smoothly from one idea to the next, helping things fit together easily for the reader. Organization gives writing a sense of purpose and structure.
Voice is the personality of the writer coming through on the page. It is what gives the writing a sense of flavor, uniqueness, and gives the reader the feeling that the writer is talking directly to her. A strong sense of voice demands that the writer make a commitment to the writing and write honestly with conviction. In a paper with strong voice, the reader will get a sense that someone real is there on the page, whether the reader knows the writer or not.
Good word choice involves being able to look critically at verbs and select ones that are active, powerful and energetic. It means being able to choose just the right words to make the writing sound natural and precise. Word choice is what gives exactness to details and helps the writer paint memorable pictures in the reader’s mind.
In any piece of writing, there are many possible ways to write any sentence correctly, but usually, of those correct versions, one or two will sound better than others. A writer who can pick out those versions and can use them frequently will have a strong sense of sentence fluency. This does not mean creating longer sentences, but means using long sentences when they would be best and short sentences when they would suit better. It means creating a sense of rhythm with the sentences and a flow that the reader finds enjoyable to follow along. Good sentence fluency stands out when a piece of writing is read aloud.
Conventions are the rules of a language. They are the common patterns of grammar, spelling, punctuation, paragraphing and capitalization that readers come to expect in good writing. They make writing easy to read and understand. A reader may not even notice when conventions are well done, but might be distracted from the good ideas that were so carefully planned if the conventions are poorly handled. This is the most mechanical of the six traits and requires writers to learn editing and proofreading skills.