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Literary Essay

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  1. Literary Essay Revisions

  2. Make sure to include the following: • Hook or lead (quote, anecdote, fact/statistic, question, humor, curiosity) • Genre, title, and author • 1-2 sentence summary of the story • Clear thesis statement/claim Introduction

  3. When great teachers are mentioned, most people think of biology instructors, football coaches, Girl Scout leaders, and others in similar positions. However, some of the greatest teachers may be individuals not normally classified as teachers. Roger, a character in the short story “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes, encounters such an unusual teacher on a city sidewalk. Because she is a fearless, trustful, and generous woman, Mrs. Jones teaches Roger a lesson he will remember. Example Introduction

  4. Go to a new sheet of paper • Head it “Revised Introduction” • Re-write to include all parts • Share with you partner and make further revisions Now you revise your introduction…

  5. Refer back to quote, anecdote, or fact used in your introduction. • Restate your thesis • End with a final insight or the significance of your thesis (further implications) Conclusion


  6. Some teachers are brilliant instructors due to their superior education. Others make excellent teachers because they are adept as communicators. Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones emerges not from a university but rather from a hotel beauty shop to become Roger’s teacher. Her courage, trust, and generosity communicate more to Roger than mere words ever could. Readers can learn from Roger’s experience to look for teachers even in the most unlikely of places. Example conclusion

  7. Go to a new sheet of paper • Head it “Revised Conclusion” • Re-write to include all parts • Share with you partner and make further revisions Now you revise your conclusion…

  8. Use clear topic sentences with variety of placements • Use strong transitions into support • Incorporate sufficient quotations with correct citations • Provide abundant text-based elaboration (context) • Use strong clincher sentences (how does it relate to your thesis?) Body Paragraphs

  9. Roger is a would-be thief. At about eleven o’clock one night, he runs up behind Mrs. Jones and tries to snatch her purse. When he falls down on the sidewalk, Mrs. Jones “simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue jeaned sitter” (78). While some women would have avoided confrontation with a stranger under similar circumstances, Mrs. Jones does not. She shook Roger “until his teeth rattled” and then demanded, “Pick up my pocketbook boy, and give it here” (78). Mrs. Jones shows no fear in her encounter with Roger. Example Body Paragraphs

  10. Not only does Mrs. Jones display courage, but she also proves to be a trusting person. She decides that Roger needs to wash and to eat and that she will take him to her home in order to do so. “I got a great mind to wash your face for you,” (78) she tells Roger. “You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?” (78). In just a few words, she assumes the role of a teacher and a mother substitute. She not only takes Roger home but she also continues to display a trusting nature once they arrive. When she gets up to prepare supper, Mrs. Jones “did not watch the boy to see if he was going to run now, nor did she watch her purse which she left behind her on the daybed” (79). Roger begins to respond to Mrs. Jones in a positive way. Hughes tells the readers that Roger “did not want to be mistrusted now” (79). Her trust in Roger is beginning to create a relationship between them. Example Body Paragraphs

  11. Mrs. Jones’s generosity to Roger extends beyond her sharing a meal with him. Roger tells her that he tried to steal her purse in order to get money for a pair of blue suede shoes. Mrs. Jones then does a remarkable thing. She takes money from her purse and says, “Now here, take this ten dollars and buy yourself some blue suede shoes. And next time, do not make the mistake of latching onto my pocketbook nor nobody else’s—because shoes come by devilish like that will burn your feet” (78). She bids him goodnight, and Roger wants to express his gratitude but cannot find words more eloquent than a simple “thank you.” However, Hughes leaves the readers with the definite impression that Roger has been profoundly touched by the generosity of Mrs. Jones. Example Body Paragraphs

  12. Go to your draft. Underline your topic sentences. • Make sure you have 1-2 quotes per paragraph. • Explain the context of your quote. • Highlight your elaboration. • If you are missing elements, add them using a different color ink or with post-its. • If necessary, go to another sheet of paper and re-write your body. Now you revise your body…

  13. Use a popular phrase • Play on words • Write a 2 word title • Write a one-word title • Copy out of your draft a sentence that could serve as a title. • Write a sentence that's not in the draft to use as a title. • Write a title that is a question beginning with What, Who, When, or Where. • Write a title that is a question beginning with How or Why. • Write a title that is a question beginning with Is/Are, Do/Does, or Will. • Pick out of the essay some concrete image—something the reader can hear, see, taste, smell, or feel—to use as a title. • Write a title beginning with an -ing verb (like “Creating a Good Title”). • Write a title beginning with On (like “On the Titles of Essays”). • Try combining two of your titles into one. Titles

  14. An academic paper, like a character analysis, requires that you maintain a formal tone. • Do not use first-person pronouns ("I," "me," "my," "we," "us," etc.). • Avoid addressing readers as "you.“ • Avoid the use of contractions. • Avoid colloquialism and slang expressions. • Avoid abbreviated versions of words. • Avoid the overuse of short and simple sentences. Point of View and Formal Tone

  15. NOT: You will learn that… INSTEAD: This story teaches the reader… NOT: I think Roger is… INSTEAD: Roger is… NOT: TV INSTEAD: Television NOT: The guy was nailed for ripping off a liquor store. INSTEAD: The man was convicted of robbing a liquor store. Example of point of view and formal tone changes

  16. Circle words and phrases you should avoid (personal pronouns, contractions, slang, abbreviations) and write the correction above it. • Review your sentences for syntactic variety. Combine short, choppy sentences using a comma and conjunction, introductory phrases, an appositive or a semicolon. Now you revise for point of view and formal tone…

  17. Apostrophes • Commas • Homophones • Italics/underlining and quotation marks Proofreading

  18. Gather your rough draft and all your revisions. • Write on the front side only. • Use your margins properly and write neatly. • Use blue or black ink or type Publishing