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Hollidaysburg Junior High. Writer’s Handbook. Table of Contents. The Writing Process Structuring Paragraphs and Essays Spelling Help Grammar and Usage Style. Click on any of the section titles above to go directly to that section. The Writing Process.

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Hollidaysburg junior high

Hollidaysburg Junior High

Writer’s Handbook

Table of contents
Table of Contents

  • The Writing Process

  • Structuring Paragraphs and Essays

  • Spelling Help

  • Grammar and Usage

  • Style

Click on any of the section titles above to go directly to that section.

The writing process
The Writing Process

  • So, you want to be a better writer? Good writing takes time, and whether one is professional writer or a junior high student writing a paper for history class, a writer need to move through a series of steps to write well.

  • The steps in this process are: prewriting, composing, evaluating, revising, editing, and publishing.


  • When you start to write, you don’t need to know exactly what you want to say…you just have to get ideas on paper. Some ways to start include free-writing, talking, brainstorming, keeping a writer’s notebook or journal, having a special place that helps your write.

Free write
Free Write

  • Write down whatever comes into your head.

  • Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, etc.

  • Even if you don’t know what to write, keep writing, “I don’t know what to write” until something else comes to mind.

Talk or discuss
Talk or Discuss

  • Participate in the class discussion on the topic.

  • Talk to a friend about your ideas.

  • Listen to the ideas of others about the topic.

  • Talk to a parent or other adult about his/her ideas on the topic.


  • Write down everything that you can think of about your topic.

  • Don’t judge or edit your ideas.

  • Write quickly.

  • Limit the amount of time you give yourself to brainstorm.

  • Let one idea remind you of another. Do word associations.

Writer s notebook
Writer’s Notebook

  • Take some time to write everyday.

  • Keep a journal, notebook, or diary.

  • Keep your journal handy so that when ideas come to you, you can jot them down.

A special place to write
A Special Place to Write

  • Thomas Jefferson spent the first 5 hours of every day at his “writing desk” composing letters and other documents. Where do you write best?

  • Find the place that is right for you, where you can be comfortable and productive.

Organizing your ideas
Organizing Your Ideas

  • Once you’ve generated lots of ideas, you need to organize them in a logical way. Two ways to do this are outlining and webbing.


  • Include a title, main headings, subheadings, and details.

    My Favorite Vacation (title)

  • Preparing for the bike trip (main heading)

    A. Organizing the group (subheading)

    B. Gathering Supplies

    1. Bikes

    2. Clothing (Details)

    3. Food

    C. Physical Training

  • The Big Trip

    A. Arriving at our base camp

    B. The first day on the trail

    C. My big wreck

    1. Trying to jump the log

    2. Riding to the hospital

  • The trip home

    A. What my parents said

    B. What I learned


Your main idea goes in the middle of the web, and all your other ideas branch out from that main idea.


1st Day




The Big Trip

Gathering Supplies

Organizing the group

The Big Wreck

Physical Training

Preparing for the Trip

My Favorite Vacation

Going Home

Parents’ reaction

What I learned


  • Using your outline or web to help you stay on track, begin to write.

  • Try not to edit or revise during this step; it’s more important to get you ideas on paper in sentence form. You’ll go back to worry about spelling, punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure later.


  • Read your paper to yourself.

  • Read your paper aloud.

  • Read your paper to someone else.

  • Have someone else read your paper to you!

  • Notice if your paper “sounds” the way you want it to?

  • Does it make sense?


  • Revision is the stage where you improve the focus, content, organization and style of your paper.

  • Play with your words, sentences, and paragraphs to say exactly what you want to say, exactly the way you want to say it.

Strategies for revision
Strategies for Revision

  • Create an opening that grabs your reader’s attention. Ask a question. Use a quote. Find an interesting or even shocking statistic. State a problem.

  • Add details - lots of detail. It’s easier to cut when there’s too much than to supplement when there are too few.

  • Avoid using passive voice. In other words, try to have the subject in your sentences doing something rather than having something done to it.

  • Find the right words – there are “a lot of ways to say a lot.”

  • Move sentences and paragraphs around to see what happens. Use transitional words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas.

  • Leave the paper alone for a while and come back to it later. You might have a new perspective if you’re away from the paper for a while.


  • Editing is the part of the process when you improve the conventions on your paper – that is the spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage and mechanics.

  • Use an editing checklist like the one on the next slide to help you, and don’t always trust the spelling and grammar check on your computer. Reread the paper before you turn it in to your teacher.

Proofreading checklist
Proofreading Checklist

  • All misspelled words have been circled.

  • All sentences begin with a capital letter.

  • Sentences end in periods, question marks, or exclamation points.

  • Dialogue is contained within quotation marks.

  • Paragraphs are indented.

  • Apostrophes are used correctly for contractions and possessives.

  • Unnecessary words and repetitions have been eliminated.

  • Missing words have been added.

  • Subjects and verbs agree.

  • Sentences are varied. Run on sentences have been improved

  • Fragments have been made into complete sentences.

  • Proper nouns and adjectives are capitalized.

  • Commas and semicolons are used correctly.

  • Strong, active verbs have been used.

  • Specific nouns have been used to add detail.


  • Handwrite or type your paper according to the directions in your classroom.

  • Be sure to cite any sources you used for research.

  • Create a bibliography if your teacher requires one.

Organizing paragraphs and essays
Organizing Paragraphs and Essays

  • A good paragraph includes a topic sentence, detail sentences, example sentences, and a concluding sentence.

  • The topic sentence states the main, controlling idea for the paragraph.

  • It often comes near the beginning of the paragraph, but sometimes it can come as the last sentence in the paragraph.

Paragraphs continued
Paragraphs (continued)

  • Detail sentences help to prove that your topic sentence is true.

  • Example sentences give clear specific examples, like statistics, to clarify what your detail sentence is saying.

  • Make your details and examples specific by using names, exact colors, shapes, and sizes.

  • Use comparisons to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

  • Use sensory details to create an image for your reader.

Using transitional words and phrases
Using Transitional Words and Phrases

  • Transitional words and phrases are the glue that hold your paper together. They make for a “cohesive” style of writing.

  • Don’t use the same transitional words and phrases over and over. Take some chances and try new ideas.

  • Use transitions within and between paragraphs.

Some useful transitions




As a result

As well

At last




For example


In addition to

In conclusion

Instead of

Just as


Rather than


Some Useful Transitions

The five paragraph essay
The Five Paragraph Essay

  • One popular way to organize a longer writing is the 5 paragraph essay.

  • This format can be easily expanded to write for longer assignments too. Just add more body paragraphs.

  • Use the outline on the next slide to help plan for a longer writing assignment.

5 paragraph outline
5 Paragraph Outline

  • Introduction & Thesis:

  • Paragraph 1 Main Idea:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

  • Paragraph 2 Main Idea:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

  • Paragraph 3 Main Idea:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

    • Detail/example:

  • Concluding Paragraph – Restatement of thesis using different words:

Help with spelling
Help with Spelling

  • Keep a dictionary handy!

  • Many words are misspelled because we mispronounce them. Words like probably (not probly), could’ve or could have (not could of), and temperature (not temprature). Notice words that you mispronounce and therefore misspell.

  • Make a list of the words that you often misspell, and keep it in your writer’s notebook or near your computer – wherever you do your writing.

  • There are some words that lots of people have trouble spelling. Work on learning this list of spelling demons that appear on the next slide.

Frequently misspelled words









































Frequently Misspelled Words

  • Come

  • Committee

  • Conscience

  • Conscious

  • Corduroy

  • Cough

  • Could

  • Counterfeit

  • Definite

  • Dependent

  • Desperate

  • Does

  • Done

  • Down

  • Dumb

  • Easy

  • Eight

  • Eighth

  • Environment

  • Every

  • Inside

  • Into

  • Just

  • Laugh

  • League

  • Library

  • License

  • Love

  • Many

  • Mattress

  • Might

  • Misspell

  • Mosquitoes

  • Most

  • Mother

  • Much

  • Name

  • Necessary

  • Neighbor

  • Mew

Frequently Misspelled Words

  • Nice

  • Niece

  • None

  • Noticeable

  • Nuisance

  • Obedience

  • Occurred

  • Off

  • Omitted

  • Once

  • One

  • Out

  • Out

  • Outside

  • Parallel

  • Plaid

  • Play

  • Prairie

  • Pretty

  • Privilege

  • Probably

  • Put

  • Raspberry

  • Receipt

  • Reference

  • Relieve

  • Rhythm

  • Ridiculous

  • Right

  • Said

  • Saturday

  • Say

  • School

  • Send

  • Shoes

  • Should

  • Show

  • Some

  • Sometimes

  • Soon

  • Sunday

  • Sure

  • Talk

  • Than

  • That

  • Them

  • Then

  • These

  • Time

  • Today

  • Together

  • Too

  • Two

  • Upon

  • Use

  • Very

  • Was

  • Wednesday

  • Were

  • What

  • When

  • Where

  • Which

  • While

  • White

  • Who

  • Whole

  • Whose

  • With

  • Woman

  • Women

  • Would write

  • writing



The ant climbed out of the picnic basket.

My Aunt Came over for Thanksgiving.


I ate my lunch.

I had eight chicken nuggets.


Use the brake to stop your bike.

Don’t break the new toy.


Can you get anything with one cent?

The scent of the flowers filled the room.

Mom sent me to the store.


The deer ran through the meadow.

My baby sister is very dear to me.


Did you hear that?

Bring that here!


The golf ball dropped right in the hole.

Can I have the whole pie?


I have a pair of shoes.

Is the pear ripe?

Pare the potatoes before you cook them.


It’s important to have principles to guide your actions.

The principal at out school is Mr. Wagner.


What role do you have in the play?

Put the hotdog on a roll.



  • Son/sun

    • His son will mow the lawn.

    • The sun is hot today

  • Threw/through

    • He threw the ball to me.

    • The dog jumped through the hoop.

  • To/too/two

    • Give the prize to me

    • I want to come too.

    • Can I have two scoops?

  • Which/witch

    • Which seat is mine?

    • The witch brewed a potion.

Frequently confused words


Affect is a verb that means to impress change or influence

Effect is a noun that means the result of an action

all right/alright

All right means that everything is correct.

Alright is not a word in accepted usage.


Good is an adjective used to describe nouns and pronouns. “The soup tastes good.”

Well is an adverb that means to do something capably. “I did well on the test.”


There is an adverb showing location. Put it there.

There is a contraction of “they are.” They’re going too fast!

Their is a possessive pronoun. That is their house.


Whose is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership. Whose turn is it?

Who’s is a contraction of “Who is.” Who’s going to do the dishes?

Frequently Confused Words

Slang and misused expressions

Instead of:





Waz up



Going to

Got to (or have to)

Have to

Want to

What is up or What’s up


Slang and Misused Expressions

“Yo! Waz up? Nuttin here. U wanna go to the mall later? Hafta go now. Later, Dude!”

Good sentences
Good Sentences

  • A sentence has a complete subject and predicate, and it expresses as whole thought.

  • Fragments are either the subject or predicate. “When we cam home from the party.” This has a subject and verb, but the thought isn’t complete.

  • Run-on sentences are strings of sentences that have been connected incorrectly. “We went to the beach we had a great time.” This just needs a comma and a conjunction to be correct: “We went to the beach, and we had a great time.”

Common problems with s v agreement
Common Problems with S/V Agreement

  • Doesn’t/don’t

    • Doesn’t is always singular

    • Don’t is always plural

  • There/here

    • These words are not the subject in the sentence.

    • Find the subject and make your verb agree with it.

    • There is a fly in my soup.

    • There are six flies in my soup.

Common Problems with S/V Agreement

  • Indefinite pronouns

    • Singular: each, either, neither, anyone, anybody, anything, someone, somebody, everyone, one, everything, everybody, one, everybody, everything, nothing, no one,

    • Plural: few, many, several, both, others

    • Sometimes plural or singular: look at the word they refer to: some, all, most, any, none

Common Problems with S/V Agreement

  • Compound subjects

    • Connected by “and” choose plural verb

    • Connected by “or” & “nor”, choose the verb that agrees with the part of the subject that is physically closest to the verb.

  • Collective Nouns

    • Collective nouns are used with plural verbs when the writer is referring to the individual parts or members of the group separately.

    • Collective nouns are used with singular verbs when the writer is referring to the group acting together as a unit.

      • The class have completed their projects. (individuals)

      • The class has elected its officers. (group/unit)

Improving style
Improving Style

  • Cut unnecessary words – never use two words when one word gets your point across.

  • Keep it simple – it’s good to use new words, but make sure you know what they mean and how they’re normally used before you try them out in a formal writing assignment.

  • Have fun with words too – choose more specific words to make your writing more interesting. Strong, active verbs are important. Instead of “walked slowly”, try “dawdled.” Instead of “bragged”, try “crowed”.

Improving Style

  • Similes and Metaphors are comparisons that help your reader move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

    • A simile is a comparison that uses “like” or “as.”

      • “The soccer field was like a swamp after the heavy rains.”

    • A metaphor is a comparison that says one this is actually another.

      • “My backyard is a jungle where my friends and I play games for hours and hours.”

  • Clichés are phrases that are used so much that they hurt your writing rather than help it. Avoid words and phrases like the list on the next slide.

Clich s to avoid

Slow as molasses

Big as a whale

Quiet as a mouse

Hungry as an ox

At death’s door

Depths of despair

Grinning from ear to ear

One in a million

In the same boat

Easier said than done

Green with envy

Weigh a ton

On cloud nine

To make a long story short

Cried her eyes out

Busy as a bee

White as a ghost

Once in a lifetime

Raining cats and dogs

Clichés to Avoid