A. Here’s the problem:
Readers don’t like to be confused. Some of you think the authors we study try to confuse you, but I’m not talking about the literary uses of ambiguity. I’m referring to expository prose; when you explain and support ideas, any awkwardly phrased sentence that prevents you from communicating those ideas clearly and accurately makes your writing less effective.
B. What to do:
Be more honest with your editing partners. Instead of saying only “it’s good” or nit-picking for the sake of criticizing, tell each other which sentences are worded in such a way that their meaning isn’t coming through. Also, as with other topics in this chapter, read each other’s sentences aloud to pick up awkward-sounding phrases and sentences.
C. Example: Elizabeth’s father is the strongest, quietest, and wisest in the book, of whom, Eliza takes after the most.
Corrected Version: Elizabeth’s father is the strongest, quietest, and wisest character in the book, the parent Eliza takes after the most.
D. Now you try—write corrected versions of the following sentences.
1. Austen illustrates her attitude of the ability to free onself from the chains of conformity and custom.
2. This scene is ironic because seeing as how Lady Catherine is supposed to be a figure of high regard, she is acting far worse than someone of a lower status.
E. For more information or additional practice, check the following source:
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/confusion.htm (a good discussion of many sources of confusion and their remedies)