Research Writer Interview With Shannon
English & Literature
What do you enjoy most about freelance writing?
I love the fact that I am creating something. There's a lot involved in producing a quality paper-audience analysis, organization, word choice, and structure, just to name a few elements-and when it all comes together, it's really satisfying. I also enjoy the process of analyzing something and working it out; it's always a great feeling to come up with a solid insight into a topic and recast something in a new, interesting way.
What is your favorite kind of writing?
I really enjoy argumentative writing. I'm a fan of the rhetorical triangle, so I incorporate emotion, persona, and logical reasoning and facts into all my arguments, for the triple whammy! I also like any kind of narrative or reflective writing; everyone enjoys a good story, and it's fun to create something that others can relate to.
What is your research background?
I have an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Philosophy, and a Master's degree in Literature with a cognate in rhetoric. I taught composition and rhetoric at the college level for over five years, so I have a clear understanding of the kind of writing that professors expect.
What is your philosophy on writing?
I view writing primarily as a skill, one that almost everyone can learn. It's like golf, or cooking, or working on cars; there are guidelines, strategies, and rules that can be practiced and mastered. Just like anything else, some people are better than others, but that doesn't mean that you can't do it competently. It just means you need to work at it. If I told you I found basketball confusing and difficult, you would tell me to learn the rules and practice. The same is true for writing.
Do you have any writing tips?
My number one tip is to use examples in your writing. Examples provide your reader with something concrete, and they often make your point more easily than any amount of exhaustive explanation. I also recommend making use of transitional words and phrases to help guide your reader through your paper; it's important to make clear connections among your ideas. In the prewriting phase, I recommend free-writing: write non-stop for at least ten minutes, without worrying about grammar or mechanics. Free-writing is a great way to take stock of your ideas and get direction for your paper. Finally, I can't stress enough the importance of revision. Put the paper aside for a day, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Getting a little distance from your work can help you see the changes that need to be made.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have several! Fiction writers I enjoy include Jonathan Franzen, Yann Martel, Junot Diaz, Oscar Casares, and Ann Patchett. I also like non-fiction writers and essayists like Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace (RIP), E.B. White, and Jessica Mitford. I love to read, and will try just about anything. If it doesn't grab me within 50 pages, I feel fine about putting it away and starting something else. Part of the writer's job is holding the reader's attention!
Do you have any ethical concerns about writing custom research papers?
No, because these are model research papers to be used as examples to help the student complete his or her own assignment; they are not intended to be turned in as the student's own work-that is plagiarism, which can have serious consequences. I know from my teaching experience how helpful it can be for students to have models to work with, and I'm glad that in this role, I can continue to help students improve their writing.
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