Assess how well the story is told.

Assess how well the story is told.

Praise: Give an example in the story where the storytelling is especially effective — for example, where the speaker tags help make a dialogue dra- matic or where specific narrative actions show people in action.

Critique: Tell the writer where the storytelling could be improved — for example, where the suspense slackens, the story lacks drama, or the chronol- ogy is confusing.

2. Consider how vividly people and places are described.

Basic Features

Critical Reading Guides suggest ways of giving constructive criticism, as well as praise, for your classmates’ drafts.


Revising. Each Guide to Writing includes a Revising section to help you get an overview of your draft, consider readers’ comments, chart a plan for revision, and carry out the revisions.

A new easy-reference chart in the Revising section called “Troubleshooting Your Draft” offers specific advice for problems many students encounter at this critical stage of the writing process.

Following this chart, a section called “Thinking about Document Design” illustrates the ways in which one writer (author of one of the chapter’s opening scenarios) used visuals and other elements of document design to make the essay more effective.

Troubleshooting Your Draft charts offer specific advice for revising your essay.

Troubleshooting Your Draft Basic Features

Problem Suggestions for Revising the Draft

Vivid Description

of People and Places

Name objects in the scene. Add sensory detail. Try out a comparison to evoke a particular mood. Consider adding a visual — a photograph or other memorabilia.

Places are hard to visualize.

Describe a physical feature or mannerism that gives each person individuality. Add speaker tags to characterize people and show their feelings. Liven up the dialogue with faster repartee.

People do not come alive.

Omit extraneous details. Add a simile or metaphor to strengthen the dominant impression. Rethink the impression you want your writing to convey and the significance it suggests.

Some descriptions weaken the dominant impression.

Tell about your background or the particular context.

A Well-Told Story

Shorten the exposition. Move a bit of dialogue or specific narrative action up front. Start with something surprising. Consider beginning with a flashback or flashforward.

The story starts too slowly.

Add dramatized dialogue or specific narrative actions. Clarify your remembered feelings or thoughts. Reflect on the conflict from your present perspective.

The conflict is vague or seems unconnected to the significance.

Add remembered feelings and thoughts to heighten anticipation. Add dialogue and specific narrative action. Build rising action in stages with multiple high points. Move or cut background information and description.

The suspense slackens or the story lacks drama.

The chronology is confusing.

Add or change time transitions. Clarify verb tenses.


Editing and Proofreading. Each Guide to Writing ends with a section to help you recognize and fix specific kinds of problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure that are common in essays in that genre of writing.

The Other Parts of the Book

Parts Two through Five provide more help and practice with specific strategies for reading critically, analyzing visuals, designing documents, and many other key aspects of writing and research.

Also included are up-to-date guidelines for choosing, using, and documenting dif- ferent kinds of sources (library sources, the Internet, and your own field research); writing annotated bibliographies and literature reviews; taking essay exams; and assembling a portfolio of your writing.

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