1) For announced in-class writing assignments, you must prepare outside of class; you don’t have time to plan your writing and execute the essay in just the time we have in the class period. You need to leave time for proofreading and editing. First draft will almost always fail because of unedited flaws in grammar, punctuation, and development that you have overlooked.
2) Drop first person except when writing a personal response. Don’t confuse argument/ evaluation with opinion—use first person in informal responses only, generally not in academic essays.
3) Don’t cite the Bible in support of arguments in academic essays unless you are referencing other people’s faith statements. Academic evaluation should rely on reason and evidence, not faith statements, since your belief system, from the objective point of view in academic writing, is no more authoritative than someone else’s (opposing) faith statement.
4) Don’t interrupt or end an analytical paragraph with personal judgments or advice statements.
5) Use present tense when referring to an author’s ideas, even when they are no longer living (unless you are referring to a past fact cited by the author).
6) You must cite your sources, even when you’re referring to your textbook.
7) Punctuate all quotations—with no exceptions! Terminal quotation marks always go outside commas and periods. Question marks will sometimes go inside and sometimes outside the terminal quotation mark, depending on whether or not your sentence frame or the quotation is a question. If both your sentence frame and the quotation are questions, then, by convention, the question mark goes inside the terminal quotation mark. The principle governs the placement of exclamation marks.
8) Avoid the wordy and awkward construction, “In ________, it states _______.”
9) Avoid the wordy and awkward construction, “In (author’s name) work, (Title of Work), he/she says that _________.”
10) Avoid using “their” when possible; you will almost always be misusing it if you don’t edit carefully.
11) When acknowledging a writer’s action in a passage, avoid the verb phrase “talks about.” Use a more precise verb to express an author’s action: the writer “discusses”; the writer “notes”; the writer “explains”; the writer “argues,” etc.
12) Avoid introducing a quoted complete sentence within your own analytical sentence. To put it another way, don’t try to interpret, argue, analyze, or evaluate the idea of a quoted complete sentence in the same sentence that you quote it.
13) Generally, avoid using indefinite pronouns like “this” and “it” as the grammatical subject of sentences and never as the grammatical subject of a topic, sub-thesis, or thesis sentence.
14) Avoid one-sentence developmental paragraphs in expository writing.
15) Avoid beginning a developmental paragraph with a quotation.
16) Edit for subject-verb agreement (S-V Agree) and pronoun agreement (Pro Agree).
17) Use ink when handwriting assignments. Always type/word process assignments when possible.
18) Always double-space typed/word processed text unless otherwise instructed. Always use 12 point font size and standard font styles like “Times New Roman” or “Arial.” Don’t “double double-space” between each paragraph. Don’t bold face titles or use varying point sizes unless you are composing headings and sub headings (as may be used in process analysis essays).
18) Follow directions regarding exercise development exactly. If you aren’t sure you understand the instructions, always ask for clarification.
19) Take each of your courses and their assignments seriously. Never submit unedited rough draft. In this class, work each week to master some element in the complex craft of writing. Don’t worry about the grade you get. Since you may revise each assignment, the grade will follow your best effort!
20) Give yourself permission to take academic risks; don’t be afraid to extend yourself.
21) Take responsibility for your education. I can do the teaching, but you have to do the learning. At best, I am a facilitator of that learning. In a skill-building course like English 1301, your learning will occur only as you write, and write, and rewrite. “You learn how to write only through revision.” (Gospel According to Grimes)