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Writing Guide – Ms. Hoffman. Ideas & Content. *Be specific, clear, and thorough - Use names, dates, statistics, quotes…. *Be focused on the topic and the task at hand *Be are accurate and appropriate *Be original or unique

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ideas content
Ideas & Content
  • *Be specific, clear, and thorough

- Use names, dates, statistics, quotes….

  • *Be focused on the topic and the task at hand
  • *Be are accurate and appropriate
  • *Be original or unique

- What can you add that isn’t like what everyone else has written?

ideas content1
Ideas & Content

Jane dressed in an unusual way.


Jane came to school today in pink and while polka dot leggings and a green and blue paisley shirt. The twelve-inch purple feather sticking straight up from her orange headband almost kept me from noticing the army boots on her feet.


All writing has a beginning, middle, and an end


*establish context necessary (describe the situation, problem, literature, etc…) so the reader knows enough to dive into your main points about the topic.

-when writing about literature, name title, author, setting, and basic premise

*Avoid the “dawn of time” introductory statements

*NEVER use sentences or phrases like “I’m going to give you three reasons why we should not have a dress code” or “The following essay will explain…”


Thesis Statement

The LAST sentence of your introduction. This will serve as the springboard or transition into the body of your essay.

This should answer the prompt or question you’re writing to.

It should express the main point of your entire essay.

It should be complete and thorough enough to stand on its own.

sample introduction
Sample introduction

Advertising is everywhere - on billboards, cereal boxes, sports stadiums, and even cars. Advertising is a huge industry in the US; in 2006 alone, the US spent $155 billion on advertising. No one can deny that advertising is a big part of life, but has it gone too far? Every day, more schools are using their walls and hallways as billboards; and in return they are receiving the funding they need. Schools having corporate sponsorship has both good and bad sides, but some people have begun to argue that it has gone too far.

Thesis statement sets up what will follow in the essay: good and bad parts of corporate sponsorship, and why it might have gone too far. It remains 3rd person and straightforward.

body paragraphs
Body Paragraphs

Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that

-connects directly to the thesis statement

-provides the main idea for the paragraph

-unites all of the supporting sentences

Supporting sentences include specific details, quoted

information, and explanations

Never begin or end a paragraph with a quote!

sample body paragraph
Sample Body Paragraph

Positive aspects of corporate sponsorships in schools are mostly financial. In exchange for advertising, companies may provide financial support for academics and athletic programs. For example, the Channel One news program has provided many classrooms with TV’s that may be used for other educational purposes, and Gatorade may provide water bottles for the basketball team. In today’s economy funding anything is an issue; schools may alleviate problems by finding corporate sponsors.

Ideas/Content – specific details rather than generalities

Topic sentence brings up first point indicated by thesis.

Supporting sentences all connect to the topic sentence.


Summarize your main points without using the exact wording you’ve used before.

If appropriate, close with a recommendation or generalization.

Do not bring up new information/supporting details in the conclusion!

sentence fluency
Sentence Fluency

Variety is the key here….

*Vary your sentence beginnings

*Vary sentence lengths

*Vary sentence type/structure

*Make sure sentences are complete & correct – no fragments or run-ons

sentence fluency1
Sentence Fluency

I woke up early. I ate breakfast. I got in the car. Then I drove to school. The parking lot was crowded. I was almost late to class.

Problems with these sentences? They’re boring!

They’re so much alike that my brain quit caring.

Improving sentence fluency is a revision strategy – something you go back and do after you’ve written the first draft.

Ask yourself:

Where can I change how the sentence begins?

Where can I change the order of the sentence – maybe begin with a prepositional phase?

Where can I combine short sentences or break up long ones?

word choice
Word Choice

Good word choice does not come from the thesaurus

Think verbs, adjectives, and adverbs

Think precise and specific

There’s a different visual …

The woman walked down the street.


The woman strolled down the street.

The woman hobbled down the street.

word choice1
Word Choice

Consider the effects of changing one word:

*The secretary leaned flirtatiously on the desk.

*The secretary leaned angrily on the desk.

*The secretary leaned tiredly on the desk.


*The man ____(verb)__ ___(adverb)___ down into the baby’s crib.

Verbs: leaned looked stared glared gazed whispered

Adverbs: lovingly carefully angrily softly sadly


The term “voice” refers to the attitude or personality of the speaker, coming through the writing. Individuality is hard to teach, but I encourage you to let your personality show in your writing.

Think of celebrities with very unique voices – not the words they say out loud, but what it is about them that enables you to identify their words in print or imagine their voices in your head.

Imagine people like Will Farrell, President Obama, or Tina Fey. Chances are, if I gave you random quotes from these or other famous people, you would be able to identify the speaker based on their voices.

However, voice may also change depending on task, audience, and purpose. Be aware of the level of formality you use.


Conventions = grammar, the rules of the language….

Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, subject-verb agreement, consistent verb tense, clear pronoun usage, etc…, etc… 

Common issues to avoid:

*writing to a “you” audience Ex: In the novel, you can clearly see…..

*inconsistent pronoun use Ex: The student handed in their assignment. Student = singular; their = plural. These should match.

conventions correct punctuation for titles
ConventionsCorrect Punctuation for titles

Underline or italicize major or complete works



Epic (long) poems

CD/Album titles

Use quotation marks for shorter works or works within a larger work

Short Stories

Chapters within books


Song titles


This area really covers how the text looks on the page.

*Are the margins correct and uniform?

*Is the text appropriately indented and spaced?

*Is the font appropriate in type, color, size?

*Is there a heading, title, or cover page if necessary?

*Is there a balance of white space so the text appears manageable?