Leeward Community College
Tips for Essay One
(or How to make your teacher happy and improve your grade)
What I am looking for is how well you recreate the events
you are writing about. In other words, an excellent piece will
leave me with a sense that I was there. Obviously, you won't be
able to tell me everything that happened--that's an impossible
task--however, you should describe the event(s) so that readers
can experience them (and don't limit yourself to just visual
details); you should provide ample factual information about what
happened (who/what/when/where/why/how); and you should use
dialogue from time to time so readers can "hear" some things that
were said. In two of the sample essays I provided to you, The Rollercoaster
Ride and Because,
conversations between characters are used to great effect.
In this area, I look for a clear sense of a
beginning, middle and end. The beginning of a good piece is
catchy and grabs my attention somehow (see pages 347--349 for
tips on how to begin an essay). What's more, somewhere in the
beginning you should make it clear what you are writing about and
your feelings about what happened (thesis). For instance, if
wrote about the time you quit smoking, you might say, "When I
gave up cigarettes for good, I went through hell." To continue
the example, the middle (or body) of a well organized piece would
go on to emphasize the hellish time you had. Just like the
example I've just given, your piece should have a thesis and the
body that supports it. As for concluding your piece, I look for
a connection between beginning and end. For example, in The
Rollercoaster Ride by Janel T., she effectively links her conclusion
to her opening by making a reference to the rollercoaster ride.
Vocabulary: In this area, I am not necessarily looking for "big"
words. Instead, I look for how well the words you use (and how
you use them) fit the purpose and context. In some cases,
throwing in a couple of esoteric words can weaken a piece instead
of strengthening it. I also like to see word play and use of
figurative language (metaphor, analogy, simile, and so forth).
Recall the roller coaster analogy again. Good writing has a
rhythm and flow to it just like good pieces of music.
Voice: I grade rather liberally in this area, but I do look for a
sense of you, as writer, in the piece. I want to hear your
thoughts, reactions and opinions. You should sound natural and
not too formal and stuffy in this piece.
Mechanics: Spend time re-reading your piece for mistakes. Pages
386-398 in your text offer some sound editing/revising practices. You can
also check out this link for more help with editing and revising
tactics. If writing correctly is a big bugaboo for you, consider
seeking the assistance of someone with expertise with editing. Also make
sure that your piece is in the proper format (headings, margins,
spacing and so forth).
Dayle Kalama Turner |=|=|=| Leeward Community College
Language Arts Division |=|=|=| 96-045 Ala Ike
firstname.lastname@example.org.Hawaii.Edu |=|=|=| Pearl City, Hawaii 96782
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ |=|=|=| Phone: (808) 455-0258
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