How a Professional Writer Improved My Academic Writing

This article by Annie Claus starts the way that some ethnographers seem to, by the anthropologist getting on the inside of a particular group and gaining particularly important information.  What Claus finds out about is writing from a professional who wrote for the New York Times is a few tips that she shares in her post.   The class serves as her area for participant observation which is what a class is.  She makes the point when trying to get into the class and says that anthropologists need to be good writers too.  In fact everyone should be a good writer and Claus shares what she learned in the class to try to help others become better.  Most of the time in order to find this kind of information you have to go out and buy a book on writing or go to a seminar but the anthropologist made this information available for everyone to have.  That’s how it should be.  Everyone should have access to this information and in a world where almost everyone is a writer -whether it be on the internet, for a job, or texting- and it would benefit everyone if people improved their writing with these tips.

One good tip that is not often given is how to handle dull subjects.  People often say it is the mark of a good writer to know how to handle a dull subject and make it interesting but they don’t say how.  Claus says that, “McPhee creates structural variety.  Even when writing about policies, Mcphee’s prose is energetic -it’s as if he’s trying to make the subject interesting for himself.”  This gives evidence to the fact that non-fiction prose can still be interesting and not boring to read.  Claus’s contribution to anthropology will help writers everywhere improve their work.  One great thing that I learned from this post is that anthropologists have a unique way of reflecting on experiences they have and turning them into analysis that helps others.