I have several online writing classes throughout the year and one thing I have noticed: Some student work tirelessly to do the minimum possible. Please don’t do that.
Always try to go “Above and Beyond.” Look, you are in a writing class, for Pete’s sake, so write. Do your research, so that you have something to write about. (Case in point: I once saw a young gal in a computer lab stare at a blank screen for 45 minutes, not writing anything. When I finally made it around to her computer, I asked to see what she had written. She replied, “Nothing. I don’t know what to write about.” I asked to see her research and she asked, “What research?”) Start with research and please note that, if you are asked for a minimum of seven sources, don’t try to get by with only three. I promise: Your teacher will notice.
Now, “Above and Beyond” does not mean that, if you are asked to write an 8-10-page paper, you write 27 pages. That’s happened in my 15 years of teaching college and your professor, who may have 180 students per semester, does not want to see three times what he or she asked for. He or she would like eight to ten pages (For the record, seven pages and three lines is not an eight-page paper. It is a seven-page paper that is trying to cheat the system.)
Another case in point: I was teaching folks how to write an employment package and one gal had an eleven-page résumé (Yes, you need both accent marks or you have written a word that is not the one you wanted). She was supposed to write a two-page résumé. She had only had one job in her life. That is not enough for eleven pages, though she managed to include such tasks as picking up a paper clip if one had fallen to the floor. No, I’m not kidding.
What it does mean is that you need to give substantive answers to any discussion prompts. Don’t skimp on words, but don’t go overboard, either. I once saw a writing student who wrote three paragraphs where a five-sentence answer was required, but the sentences all said the same thing. Repeatedly. Use some common sense, please!
I hope this helps guide you towards a better grade, then next time you study writing. Or anything else, for that matter.