Indenting When you write a paragraph, you should indent . This means you begin a few spaces to the right, so that the first line is not lined up with the other lines of the paragraph. The symbol for indenting is: Do not center your paragraph! That’s for poetry (and not always then).
No Announcements! Do not “announce” to the reader what you read or what you are going to write about. The reader is (presumably) not stupid. Incorrect: My book was . . . Correct: Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke… Incorrect: I am going to give you an example Correct: For example, when Sarah, the main
The Word “You” Try to avoid using “you.” If you are trying to say that the author does something that impacts the reader, use the phrase “the reader.” You may also use “me” when referring to what you thought or how you felt. Incorrect: This makes you want to keep reading. Correct: This makes me want to keep reading. Correct: This makes the reader want to keep reading.
Italicize the Title of theBook Do not put the title of the book in quotation marks. The title of a book should be italicized, unless you are writing by hand. If you are writing by hand, you underline the title. NEVER do both (underlining and italics) together. And forget about bolding or using all CAPITAL LETTERS for titles.
Analysis vs.Summarization Some of you are writing a summary of the story instead of doing the actual assignment. Please take care to write a paragraph that responds to the assigned question. You will need to include examples, but that’s different from a summary.
Characters If you mention a character by name, take the time to let your reader know who this character is. Don’t assume your reader knows. Incorrect: Bobby is an interesting boy. Correct: Bobby, the main character, is an interesting boy.
Missing Examples Many of you make statements but don’t provide specific examples from the text (the book you are reading). Incorrect: Davy is a shy, sensitive boy. Correct: Davy is a shy boy because in the first chapter he is too embarrassed to make eye-contact with the clerk helping him at the store.
Context, context,context! Before you give an example from the book or quote from the text, always provide context so your reader understands it. Never assume your reader is familiar with the text and doesn’t need context. Quotes and examples without context are CONFUSING!
Context – an Example Incorrect: Bobby’s unkind because he says, “Out means out. Outside. Out of the house. Somewhere that is not here.” Correct: Bobby can be unkind at times. For example, when his mom questions him about what he means when he says he’s going “out” for a while, Bobby responds with sarcasm: “Out means out. Outside. Out of the house. Somewhere that is not here.”
Commentary is key! If the paragraph offers an example from the text, there must be an explanation of how the example supports the opinion. For every example, be sure to clearly explain HOW it supports the opinion.
Don’t State the Obvious– Dig Deep! Avoid making obvious observations. Gasp!: If the events happened in a different order it would change everything. - duh Eek!: If a different person narrated the story the reader wouldn’t get the perspective of the other character. – duh Yikes!: The character Hannah and I are like because we both have blonde hair. – so?
YOUR PURPOSE Keep in mind that your purpose is to express an opinion about the writing. AND why does what you noticed matter? In other words: What’s significant about your opinion or observation?