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Becoming Better Writers “To write is to write is to write is to write is to write.” Gertrude Stein
Heading Your paper should have a heading that is double-spaced in the upper left-hand corner. Include the following: Last Name pg. # Name Teacher’s Name Course Date Original Title Centered
Title Please title your paper. Be creative when giving your paper a title. Hint: “Character Analysis” is not an original title! Title should be centered. DO NOT capitalize, underline, or use quotation marks on your paper’s title. If you use the title of the novel in the title of your paper underline/italicize only the title of the novel.
A Thesis must: Paraphrase the prompt Encapsulate the argument Take a stance and be unique Answer all parts of the question OUTLINE inform the reader and show where your essay is going
THESIS The thesis statement should not only state your topic but give a ‘preview’ of what is to come in the body paragraphs of your essay. Basically, there should be no surprises as to topics that may ‘pop up’ in body paragraphs that were not mentioned in your intro paragraph.
Introductory Paragraph Start out broad and narrow to thesis. Definition or general statement of topic Background of topic Narrow down to topic Specific Thesis Statement
Three steps to prove a point are: Make a statement Use a quote or quote bit (phrase or part of a sentence) to illustrate your point Analysis: logically show the reader how the particular quote or example proves your point (commentary)
VERB TENSE Always write in the LITERARY PRESENT present tense (says not said, does not did, etc.)
Body Paragraphs/Topic Sentences Each paragraph should have a strong topic sentence. It should not be a factual statement. Topic sentences should refer back to your thesis statement. A thesis statement will introduce your topics in the order in which they occur in the body of your paper.
Quote Integration An introductory phrase is required before a quote. It should identify the speaker of the quote and place it in context. For example: Ex. In Act 3, Mercutio berates Romeo, “QUOTE” (3.3.45-47) Or when quoting a novel (Hawthorne 67). There is no comma in between the author and page number in MLA format and the punctuation comes after the parenthesis, not at the end of the quote (unless it’s an exclamation mark)! Do not begin or end your body paragraphs with a quote. Quotes are textual evidence to be used for support and followed by commentary. Always discuss each quote and its significance.
QUOTE SANDWICH Each paragraph should contain one quote to illustrate a quality or characteristic. Quotes are like pictures in a book. They do not tell the story; they illustrate it. Do not depend on your quotes to prove your thesis. What you say about your quote (how you logically tie your quotes into your argument) should prove your point. You should be able to take the quotes out of your paper and the logic and sense of your point should still be there. Discuss each quote and show how it illustrates the point you are making. Never expect the reader to do this for himself/herself. You must show the reader why the particular quote you chose is relevant to the point you are making. This means you will always discuss each quote you use to show how it illustrates your point. Ask yourself: Is this quote meaningful to my paper? Why?
Transition words USE THEM to link paragraphs (or sentences) to the preceding one. Your paper should flow from paragraph to paragraph through these “links,” which prevent choppy writing.
NO PLOT Be careful not to retell the plot; however, some clarification is necessary. Briefly tell the reader what was going on when the quote is said. Think of the reader as someone who has not read the story, but is intelligent.
Combine Sentences Combine simple sentences into compound or complex sentences; use a semi-colon when combining simple sentences. Use a semicolon to join parts of a compound sentence if no coordinating conjunction is used. Example: Secret Service agents scanned the area; everything seemed in order. OR Use a semi-colon before a conjunctive adverb that joins clauses of a compound sentence. Example: Three local factories have closed; consequently, many people have been laid off.
Concluding Paragraph Restate Thesis Broaden out to discuss overall meaning Recap main points from body paragraphs with ONE sentence for each idea from thesis/body paragraphs Paragraph should have at least 5 sentences. End with a clincher: Remember this is the last thing your reader reads, so make it memorable!
WORDS TO AVOID Never, ever, use the words: YOU I think, I believe. Contractions (doesn’t = does not) Don’t use “this quote shows” or “here is a quote that proves.” This is redundant. “This” must be followed by a noun. Ex: not the character’s actions caused “this” rather, “this predicament.”
DID YOU??? Did you really prove your thesis? Use spell check. Since it’s not foolproof, read your paper over aloud and/or have someone else read your paper. Does it make sense?
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