MLA format The point is uniformity - to make your writing as easy to read, comment on, and successfully return, as possible
Do not overlook the importance of the title! Your title is the first impression work makes. A good title is clever, says something about your work, and compels the reader to read on… in other words, a good title is BRILLIANT!
Structure In any paper - whether it’s a reflective essay, a research-based paper, or personal statement - you are essentially building an argument: – You’re putting forth your ideas and defending them – This is the mindset that the five paragraph essay is supposed to teach you
The Hook, continued… For example, for that first paper of the semester you could start with a brief anecdote describing something particularly bad (or particularly good you’ve done in an English class… something… » interesting » memorable » provocative
Structure: The Intro Paragraph (part I, the hook) Inarguably, the introductory paragraph is the most essential part of your paper. In your intro you should effectively accomplish three things: – Start with a hook: Pretend your audience isn’t – me – obligated to continue reading – why should I be interested? Intrigue me!
Regardless of what you’re writing about, after the hook you should briefly introduce the topic in a way general way that allows you to segue into your thesis Intro paragraph part II: Introducing your topic
– Your thesis is simply the fundamental point you’re going to talk about in your work Advice: Pre-writing is important: – A thesis should be the result of a lengthy thinking process. The more fully developed your thesis is prior to starting, the easier the paper will be to write – In addition to stating WHAT your intent is, your thesis should suggest HOW you’ll be making your argument as well. The Introduction III: The Thesis
For example: Wrong Bad Theses “In this paper I will evaluate whether what we should do in 12 th grade English.” – Tell me what the point of your paper is without telling me you’re telling me!
This is the difference between… This I am telling you the best way to get to Taco Bell by telling you to take a left on to Laura Duncan Rd. and go straight And this The best way to get to Taco Bell is to take a left on to Laura Duncan Rd. and to go straight.
For Example: Wrong “So what should students do in senior English?” – Your thesis = Question = no!
For example: Right! Good Thesis Taking into account the demands of college and the workplace in the 21 st century, senior English classes should focus on activities that foster collaboration and lean on the innate curiousness of young people. This thesis not only tells me what the paper will be about, but suggests the things I’ll be discussing in my body paragraphs.
Thesis test: A good way of testing whether you have a good thesis is to consider whether the first question a reader is likely to ask is: –S–So what? –W–Why? –H–How? These questions indicate vagueness, or a lack of clarity.
Structure: The Body Whatever comes between the intro and the conclusion should directly relate to your thesis – It should strengthen your argument – Going by my thesis, in my hypothetical paper I’m not going to discuss that doesn’t directly related to collaborative learning and/or curiousness combined with the demands of college/work in the 21 st century
The Body Pt. Two: Pay Attention! Don’t get choked! Look at the first sentence of any body paragraph (the topic sentence) - – Ask yourself: is everything that comes after it directly contributing the the development of that one idea?
The Body Pt. III In my paper I want to include how allowing students to have a voice in the topics they write about is a good idea: Q: Can that idea be developed in multiple paragraphs?
Is it okay to change my thesis as I get further along in my writing process? For all the pre-planning you might do, writing is a process of discovery; as your ideas become more refined, you might have to tweak your thesis as well.
Structure: The Conclusion Your conclusion should: –A–Add it all up: Reiterate how what you wrote about proves your thesis –I–In my hypothetical paper, I might talk specifically about what I want to study in college or (do for a job), and the perceived skills I’ll need »I»In talking about this, I am reinforcing every aspect of my statement of intent (i.e. my thesis) without necessarily directly restating my thesis word for word A good Conclusion MUST (must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must must) be longer than a sentence or two
Every time you start a conclusion with, “In conclusion…” …Somewhere a newborn puppy dies.
Quotes: use them If writing a paper is a war, then direct quotes are your Bazookas – Support of your thesis should be as detailed, as text-specific as possible, and what could be more specific than quoting the text?
Quotes: Using them Direct quotes shouldn’t be sentences unto themselves – always try to integrate direct quotes into your own ideas, your own words – This might mean that you don’t use an entire passage from a work related to a point you’re making, rather specific segments and phrases
For example: Wrong “No more homework, reading, or even showing up on time!” This quote shows that Mr. Stapleton is the most awesome teacher ever.
For Example: Right! With his policies of “no homework, reading, or even showing up on time,” Mr. Stapleton proves to be the most awesome teacher ever.
“Developing brains are less able to sustain attention because of mobile technology.” This quote said by Matt Richtel demonstrates a bias against young people who use mobile technology.
In his New York Times article “Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” Matt Richtel continues with his dubious claims by saying that “developing brains are less able to sustain attention because of mobile technology.”
More dubious still is the claim that ”developing brains are less able to sustain attention because of mobile technology” (Richtel).
Quotes: Is your quote any good? Quotes are used because in your own writing, you want to support an idea with information that’s phrased uniquely, perfectly, in your source material So ask yourself: Is your quote saying something unique? – Don’t say something like: According to her father, Sally is “a girl” who has “two dogs.” – If in your paper about Sally you want to include the fact that she has a peculiar looking head, find a unique quote that expresses that idea – According to her dad, Sally has “a face like a frying pan.”
When the quote don’t fit If you need to change a quote to make it flow with your writing, you can change them slightly by adding words – additions are indicated with brackets [ ] – For Example: If I want to incorporate the direct quote “I sing of walls” into my writing: – Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls,” (171). – So long as you don’t change the original meaning of the quote, e.g. » “Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “[doesn’t] sing of walls.”
Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls”. (171) Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls.” (171). Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls, (171)”. Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls,” (171) Grendel tells Beowulf that he, “sing[s] of walls,” (171).
Quotes: Random thoughts Extended quotations (four lines or longer) are like those dishes your mom keeps in a glass cabinet - they should only be taken out for special occasions Every line of your longer quote should be indented thusly: =
Quotes: Random thoughts: The life changer Stapleton says “periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.”
And… The placement of question marks with quotes follows logic: – If a question is in quotation marks, the question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks. – If the text in quotes is a statement, and the entire sentence is a question, then this is when the punctuation goes outside the quote marks
For example: He asked, “will you go out with me?” And can you believe she responded, “you smell like eggs and dandruff shampoo, loser”?
Quotes: random thoughts: The Finale If it’s not an actual “quote” don’t put “quote marks” around the word/phrase or I will deduct so many “points” you will “cry” – For example people have a tendency to put figures of speech of verbal clichés in quotes, like: Hrothgar and Wealtheow “have it all.”
Phrases to stay away from pt. 1 “I think,” “I believe,” “In my opinion” – The presumption is that in your writing, all of these things are true – When these phrases precede a statement, they make those statements weaker
Phrases to stay away from pt. 2 Making statements that feel true, but that can’t be verified, or that weren’t verified by you: – Watch especially for statements that start with “Some would say…” or “Many think…” Instead of – “Many would say that maintaining a health marriage requires hard work” Go with – “Maintaining a healthy marriage requires hard work.” – Don’t say things like “Macbeth, Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy…” because the implication is that you’ve read all the other tragedies and have arrived at that conclusion yourself
First and Second Person Pronouns = Don’t In formal writing, don’t use words like I - me – our – us – we – And definitely not: you – yours
And I also think you should try to avoid the use of too many words in the sentences that you write in essays for me and in English classes in general.
Concise, continued The best writing expresses the maximum amount of information in a minimum amount of words.
Go with colons: – After an independent clause when introducing a list Homeroom offers the following activities: boredom, smack-talk, odd videos and yearbook surveys. – After an independent clause when directly introducing quotations. Mr. Stapleton’s comment on my paper couldn’t be clearer: “Please stop turning in garbage.” – Between independent clauses when you want to emphasize the second. I don’t understand why everyone dislikes John Proctor: he’s a boss.
Go with semi-colon: – To join independent clauses in a way that implies a relationship between the two. This weekend I’ll be grading a ton of papers from my seniors; it’ll piss off my wife, but she knew the bargain when she married an English teacher. – To introduce a list that itself contains commas. I have lived in Exeter, New Hampshire; Portland, Maine; Raleigh, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; and Galway, Ireland. – Good rule o’ thumbs: A lot of times, semi-colon replaces conjunction words like and, but, etc.
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