Academic writing is notorious for being dry as a desert. We’ve all felt our eyes glaze over during a particular sentence in an assigned reading. Our pen hangs in the air, paralyzed by indecision. What do we underline? Everything? Nothing? What’s the important information here? Resigned to our defeat, we move on to the next sentence, hoping we haven’t strolled right past something significant.
This is the path that will lead to rereading until you realize that you don’t know dick about what the paper was trying to communicate. Now, imagine for a moment that you are a professor (or, to be truthful, a professor’s lowly squire). You’ve been assigned a whole stack of student papers to grade. In a fate crueler than any Lucifer could design, you must sift through a mound of stilted undergrad academic prose. Visions of banned stimulants dance in your head, then vanish. You begin to think fondly of the good old prehistoric days, when language consisted mostly of pointing, grunting, and screeching. What a world it was, untarnished by the verb “facilitate.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Academic writing doesn’t need to have its mailing address in its own rectum to communicate its points in a clear and articulate fashion. If you’re arguing a point, it can be made in lively and interesting splendor. If you’re analyzing a text, you don’t have to drain the blood from the entire work. There’s room for levity and entertainment.
We must acknowledge, though, that not every paper will be a barrel of laughs. Perhaps your subject matter is very grim, and you don’t trust yourself with dark humor. Perhaps you’re writing a research paper, and there’s not much breathing room for creativity. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Still, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your writing, you just might be able to brighten someone’s day. That said, there are different standards for different assignments.