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Bestsellers class blog:
'My History as a Reader' essay:
--due January 8 (30 points)
--2 pages typed, double-spaced
--read 'What Makes a Bestseller' and 'My History as a Reader'; respond to all
questions and readings in essay form (NOT a list)
--Avoid all Writing Pet Peeves (they are given below); I deduct 5 points for
each, every time it
appears. For example, if you have 3 sentence fragments, you just lost 15
--1 FULL page, 4 paragraphs minimum
--typed, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, Times New Roman 12-point font ONLY
--do not type all bold or all italics
--must be printed in black ink only
--computer or printer malfunctions are NOT an excuse for not having your
assignment; plan ahead so you can address any tech issues (this means don't
print it the night before)
--no, you may not leave class to print in the library; have your paper in your
hand on the due date
WRITING PET PEEVES
These are the most common mistakes I see when I grade your papers. All of them
are errors you should have been taught how to avoid long before you became
high school students. Please review this sheet and keep it with you whenever
you write for me. From now on I will expect you to correct these mistakes
before you turn in your work.
1. RUN-ON SENTENCES: A run-on sentence is one that just goes on and on and
on and never seems to come to an end and then just when you think it's going
to stop it seems to pick up steam and keep going and all the while being held
together by the word 'and' about a million times until you just want to throw
2. SENTENCE FRAGMENTS: A sentence. Must always. Have both a subject. And a
predicate. It also. Must make. Sense standing alone.
3. MANAGEABLE PARAGRAPHS: Whenever you have a change of topic or a change
of speaker you should start a new paragraph. Too many papers have an entire
page (or more) as one paragraph when the topic changes several times. It is
difficult to read extremely-long paragraphs. Never let your reader become
confused or bored. He/She will just put your paper down and go play video
games. At the same time, do not write paragraphs of 1 or 2 sentences. This is
not long enough to develop a point. Generally you should have at least 3
sentences in a paragraph.
4. CAPITALIZATION: beginnings of sentences, proper names like frodo
baggins or mordor, and the first word in a direct quotation are always
5. APOSTROPHES: Never add an apostrophe to make word's plural.
Apostrophe's only indicate possession or contraction. The only exception's are
odd word's which would be confusing without the apostrophe, such as ABC's or
6. CHANGING TENSES: Generally speaking, you should not change verb tenses
without a clear reason for doing so. It confuses the reader. If you are in
present tense, saying that Martians are taking over Niwot High School and are
painting it purple, do not suddenly switch to past tense and say that while
the paint was drying they vaporized all of the cheerleaders with their Atomic
Zap-O-Matic blasters and made latte from their ashes. Be specific and be
7. CONTRACTIONS: Never use contractions in formal essays. It's
unprofessional and your college professor won't like it.
8. THERE, THEIR, THEY'RE: Proofread your paper and make sure you are using
the correct form of this homonym. There means a place. Their is a
possessive pronoun indicating that a group owns something. They're is short
for they are Their's nothing to it, so sit they're and write properly or
there going to arrest you for bad grammar.
9: VARIETY: Remember to vary your sentence structure. Remember to not
begin every sentence the same way. Remember to break up paragraphs into short
and long sentences. Remember to avoid placing the subject and verb in the same
place every time.
10. ITS AND IT'S: This is confusing because the possessive does NOT use an
apostrophe, to avoid mixing it up with the contraction form. Its means that
something has ownership and its is short for it is. See? Its very simple,
as long as you remember that It's Happens.
11. COULD OF, SHOULD OF, WOULD OF: This is easy to remember. NEVER EVER DO
THIS OR I'LL LASH YOU A THOUSAND TIMES WITH COLD DAY-OLD SPAGHETTI!!! The
proper usage is either could have/could've or should have/should've, or
would have/would've. When grading your papers I could of screamed, I was so
frustrated at seeing this mistake. I should of taken a walk to calm down, but
then I would of fallen behind in my work.
12. YOU'RE AND YOUR: This is similar to the their/there/they're problem.
Your making a mistake if you're paper confuses these two words. Your is a
possessive pronoun and you're is a contraction of you are.
13. LAY AND LIE: Just lay there and listen to me explain this mistake.
Lay means to place a thing somewhere and lie means to recline. You never
say I'm going to lay on the sofa (except when you're speaking in past tense
(hence the confusion). Instead, say that I'm going to lay a burning candle on
the sofa and watch it catch fire, while I lie in my hammock and dial 911.
14. THEN, AND, SO, WELL: So, these are fillers in most student papers. And
you should rarely or never place them at the beginnings of sentences. Then you
should also avoid using and then to make run-on sentences instead of
creating multiple sentences, which are easier to read. Well, I guess that's
15. IN MY OPINION: Do not say this in an essay where everything is your
opinion. The only time you should use this phrase is where you are quoting
multiple sources and need to make the reader aware of when you are stating
your own beliefs rather than those of outside experts. In my opinion, it's a
16. NEW SPEAKER, NEW PARAGRAPH:
"When writing dialogue with direct quotes," I told my students, always
indent whenever the speaker changes."
"Even if the new speaker only says one word?" my students asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"That's a silly rule," they sneered.
"Shut up and do it or I'll give you a month's detention," I retorted.
17. ITALICIZE FULL-LENGTH TITLES AND USE QUOTES FOR SHORT WORKS:
Titles of books, movies, plays of 2-acts or more, TV shows, etc.
(anything that is between its own covers or takes more than one comfortable
sitting to consume) are either underlined (when hand-written) or in italics
(when typed). Poems, songs, TV episodes, one-act plays, short stories, etc.
(anything that is part of a larger work or is brief) should be in quotation
18. HAVE A GOOD INTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSION: Have you ever read a paper
that just starts off with the body and doesn't clue you in about what it is
going to discuss? If so, then this rule is obvious to you. If not, then I will
explain why it is important to have a good introduction in your paper.
A good intro makes it more likely that someone will keep reading your
bleeping essay! A good conclusion helps them to remember your main points!
As we have seen by your finishing this paragraph, good intros and
conclusions are vital.
19. BUTT-SMOOCHING: Avoid sentences such as "This is one of the greatest
books ever written and it will live down through the ages". That's just
pointless filler. Practically everything we read can make that claim. It's why
you are made to read it in the first place. Now, "My English teacher is God's
gift to education and he has changed my life" is a different story.
20. FIRST-PERSON: Don't say 'I' in a formal essay. Say 'this writer' or
'the present author' or something equally classy. It can sound a bit stuffy,
but I prefer that in a formal essay.
21. ABBREVIATIONS: Don't abbreviate. Write everything out. I prefer to see
'and' not '&', for example. The same goes for 'because' instead of 'cuz',
22. CONSISTENT POINT-OF-VIEW: If someone tells a story in 3rd person,
using he/she, they should maintain that all the way through unless there is
a clear and compelling reason to switch. Likewise, if I am using any 1st
person point-of-view, I should remain consistent with it or my reader will be
23. EXTRA SPACE BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS:
Don't do this.
It's just padding your paper.
24. WRONG FORMAT: Every typed paper must be in Times New Roman font,
12-point, double-spaced. Period. And never print all bold, all italics, or in
any color except black.
25. SLANG: Hey, y'all, use formal English for essays unless specifically