Great Books Education

Writing guides


Great Books I Writing Guides


General Guides for all GBT students

Does Mr. Hinrichs confront plagiarism?

Gladly! Please see for helpful guidelines to help you diagnose this particular malady. Plagiarism is best understood with the following analogy; adultery/marriage = plagiarism/writing.

Students may hand in papers up to one week late, however, the lateness will be noted on the semester evaluation.

GBT students are encouraged to include one Greek or Latin phrase in each paper. Many can found at: - New Testament     - Old Testament - Old Testment - Ancient Texts


For additional writing helps, please see -

Please follow these guidelines
1. Submit all papers with the body of your text in  Garamond 14 pt. font. 
2. Set your margins to narrow.  
3. Single space all text and do not use justified margins.
4. Please cite all quotes from GBT material. Citations should be in footnotes rather than the body of the text. Citations should reference a page number from our class texts. To create a footnote in word, just hit Ctrl-Alt-F
5. Use the following as your paper's file name and the subject line of the email you send in- johnsmithGBTIpaper#1.  Using your name of course, not johnsmith and the appropriate paper number.  That really helps me keep all the papers straight as they are passed between me and the graders.
6. Please put your paper in Word (.doc) format. You may need to go to "Save as" and select this option.
7. Put the following header on your paper:
John Smith
GBT 1 paper #1
Word Count
<Your email address>

You can also use Mr. Hinrichs template as a starter. He will email this to you.

GBT 1 - PAPER GUIDE #1 - Narrative Writing - Homer's Iliad


Narration is storytelling. It recounts actions and events, and can be
fiction or non-fiction. A play-by-play commentator narrates the baseball
game for his radio audience, a biographer narrates someone's life story,
and Homer narrates the story of Achilles' rage in The Iliad. Narration
presents characters in action through description and dialogue.


Pick one book or scene from The Iliad and condense it into
your own 500-1000 word narrative. Remember, a narrative is not a summary or a
book report. It does not tell about a story, it *is* the story. It should
have a "Once upon a time..." feel to it, complete with dialogue, point of view, tone, and vivid description.



* POINT OF VIEW - who the narrator (not to be confused with the author) is
in connection with your narrative. Homer used the third person point of view, but you are encouraged to think creatively of how another point of view could present the story. Here are the five different possibilities:

1) FIRST PERSON PARTICIPANT - the story is narrated by one of the main characters in the story.

2) FIRST PERSON OBSERVER - the story is narrated by a minor character, someone plays only a small part in the plot.

3) THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT - the story is narrated not by a character, but by an impersonal author who sees everything and knows everything (including thoughts) related to all characters.

4) THIRD PERSON LIMITED - the story is narrated by the author, not by a character, but the author focuses on the thinking and actions of a particular character.

5) OBJECTIVE- a narrator who describes only what can be seen, as a newspaper reporter.

* TONE - the author's attitude towards the main characters and the
unfolding events. Does the author (that's you!) view the
characters impersonally, or with affection, sarcasm, humor, disdain,
sympathy, or something else?

* DIALOGUE - use this to convey the thoughts and feelings of characters.

* DESCRIPTION- use your powers of observation to produce vicarious sensory experiences for your readers. In describing things, think of how they are perceived by each of your five senses - taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. Be specific and detailed (instead of just "green", "emerald green" or "spinach green"), and try out some figurative language. Think of what that sight or smell might remind you of and make a simile or a metaphor out of it. Don't forget that description can be used to picture people and illuminate character for the reader.

BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR PAPER TO MR. HINRICHS be sure to click here for last minutes tips on catching your writing errors.

To remind yourself of the ETS Writing Component Policies, click here.

To remind yourself how to think analytically about your GBT readings, click here.

Common errors on paper #1 as explained by Dr. Lund

A. NARRATIVE STYLE: When I gave you the assignment I specified that this first essay was to be an exercise in "narrative" writing. That means "telling a story." You were to "re-tell The Iliad in your own words," remember? Well, most of you gave me more of a summary than a story. That's a common problem with an assignment like this. Narrative writing is a challenge, especially when it involves an abbreviated re-telling of such a long epic.

B. GRAMMAR: There were a number of grammatical mistakes which occurred frequently in your essays:

1. TENSE-DISAGREEMENT: Many of you were very inconsistent in the tenses of your verbs. You would switch back and forth frequently between the present tense and the past tense. Verb tenses in an essay, both within the individual sentences, and throughout the essay as a whole, are supposed to agree. For example: "When Achilles heard the news [past tense], he went out and wept openly [past tense]." But many of you wrote things like this: "When Achilles heard the news [past tense], he goes out and weeps openly [present tense]."

2. RUN-ON SENTENCES: Some of you periodically ran sentences together, lacking proper punctuation and confusing the relationships among clauses. Learn to recognize main clauses and to distinguish them from subordinate clauses. A clause is a group of related words which contains both a verb and its subject. A main clause can stand alone. A subordinate clause cannot. Correct run-on sentences by one of the following methods, either by subordinating one of the main clauses, or by making each main clause into a separate sentence. For example, consider the following run-on sentence: "The Trojans take their offer to Menelaus and he does not accept, the war continues." This sentence can be corrected either by subordinating the first two clauses as follows: "When the Trojans took their offer to Menelaus and he refused to accept, the war continued;" or by separating the clauses as independent sentences, as follows: "The Trojans took their offer to Menelaus and he did not accept.

The war continued."

3. SPELLING & TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS: Please check your spelling before sending in your essays. There were numerous spelling mistakes in some of them, and some mistakes in almost all of them.

4. USE OF THE APOSTROPHE: Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write: Charles's friend; Hector's enemy; the captain's victory. An exception is usually made for the possessives of ancient proper names ending in -es or -is. For example: Jesus' name; Achilles' wrath; Peleus' son; the Achaeans' ships.






“Expository writing" or "exposition" is writing that explains.

Your first writing assignment focused on the Narrative Mode (storytelling). In this assignment we will practice using the Expository Mode. Most writing done in the world today -- in magazines, books, newspapers, on websites, and in owner's manuals, is expository writing. Expository writing does not sound like storytelling.


Explain how Homer depicts Odysseus as a heroic character. What character traits does he give him to draw our admiration to his nature?

To write this paper you need to closely examine the character of Odysseus. He is constantly faced with challenges, struggles, and adversity. How does he respond? Explain by analysis -- breaking down his character into particulars and then for each particular give at least one illustration from the story. Briefly give this example (you do not need to re-tell the example in detail) and then spend twice as much time commenting on it, showing the reader how the example supports your idea.

LENGTH - Please write from 500-750 words on this topic.


· Explain by ANALYSIS -- breaking down into particulars. Don’t say Odysseus was “good”; name his particular virtues.

· ILLUSTRATE. For each particular, give at least one anecdotal example from the book. In other words, if you think Odysseus was brave, tell me that, but then also tell me of at least one incident from the book that led you to that conclusion. TIP: This is one element of expository writing that is a great weakness among many students. Neglecting to illustrate makes for very weak and boring writing, so be sure to get in the habit of including it now.


Expository writing needs to be organized so that your reader can easily follow your train of thought. Your basic structure should be:

I. Title
II. Introduction
III. Body (2-3 paragraphs, for this particular essay)
IV. Conclusion

Your title and introduction should grab and focus the reader's attention on what your paper is all about. Your conclusion should "wrap up" your thinking and rephrase your main idea, not leaving the reader hanging.

In between your introduction and your conclusion, the body of your paper must be a step-by-step explanation of your thinking processes on the topic at hand. "Step-by-step" indicates a high level of specifics and an avoidance of generalities. Don't tell us that Odysseus was good; tell us how he was good -- in what particular area of character -- and give us an anecdote from the story to prove it.

A helpful “formula” for the body paragraph is as follows: (I will use an example from The Iliad so as not to encourage you to imitate this too closely for this paper)
1st sentence: Topic sentence. Here, you tell us what you intend to say in this paragraph: “Paris is selfish.”
2nd sentence: Concrete Detail #1. Here, you give us a specific example or quote from the text to support your topic sentence: “Rather than showing concern for the consequences which will certainly follow, Paris readily steals Helen away from her rightful husband when Aphrodite offers her to him."
3rd sentence: Commentary. Here, you comment on the example, much in the same way a sports commentator explains what is happening in an athletic event. You can also further explain details of the concrete detail, as support for your topic sentence. “This action leads to a decade-long war which costs the lives of many men."
4th sentence: Further Commentary. Take your ideas further. What else can you draw out of this example? “Furthermore, in the midst of this war, Paris enjoys his time with Helen, not appearing to show any sign of remorse or guilt. ”
5th sentence: Concrete Detail #2. "When Hector comes to him to tell him to get back into battle, Paris wheedles, "I only wanted to plunge myself in grief." (l. 398)"
6th sentence: Commentary. "Paris's words display a disgusting lack of true grief for the men who are dying while he indulges in his feelings."
7th sentence: Further Commentary. "He admits that Hector is fairly criticizing him, but again, he shows no change of heart or shame for his actions.
8th sentence: Concluding Sentence. Here, you give a thought to tie it all together and transition into the next paragraph. "Throughout the rest of The Iliad, Paris's actions speak loudly to illustrate his character (or lack therof) to us."

To help you collect your thoughts before you begin composing the body of your paper, I would suggest you use one of these three options:

1. OUTLINE - This is probably what most of you have been taught, and it is the most organized approach. However, there are other ways to get the job done with shorter papers or younger students. Read on if you're not yet confident in outlining.

2. LISTS - For this paper, start with two lists: Greek Ideal and Odysseus’ Traits. Under these two headings list descriptive, applicable words or phrases. You might tag each with a "proof" - an illustration from the text. When your lists are done compare the two of them.

3. BUBBLES - An option for artists! Draw a small circle, big enough to hold a couple of words, in the middle of a piece of paper. Write Odysseus in it. Now think of a character trait of Odysseus'. Let's pretend Odysseus was lazy. Draw a line about 1-2 inches out from the edge of the circle, kind of like a ray emanating from the sun or a spoke coming out of the hub of a wheel. Attach a new circle to the other end of it. Write "lazy" in the new circle. Now think of another trait of Odysseus'. Let's say he was a cheat. Go back to the edge of your original "Odysseus" circle and draw another line out from the edge and inch or two, make a new circle and write "cheat" in it. After you have "bubbled" every one of Odysseus' traits, begin to think of what sections in the story illustrated each trait. Go back to each trait bubble and draw a line out from it with a word or two reminding you of an illustration. When you are done with this, repeat the process on another sheet of paper, this time using "Odysseus character" as your central bubble.



Who is in the right: Antigone or Creon?

Write a 500-750 word essay designed to persuade your audience to assent to
your point of view on this question. You will need to pick an imaginary
audience to address, and note at the top of your paper who that audience is.


In PERSUASION, the goal is to get the audience to change its beliefs or will - to assent to you - and the means of attaining that goal is the stirring of the emotions combined with the use of logic. Persuasion is often called "sweet reason" because it takes cold, unfeeling reason and makes it sweet by appealing to the heartstrings of an audience.

Effective persuasion wields power and influence over people. Its pressure can cause us to change our minds and our wills in matters on which we have held strong opinions. Notice that truth is not necessarily a goal of persuasion. The unscrupulous often employ persuasion with no thought of truth, but only of selfish gain. A good understanding of the effective use of persuasion will attune you to reading and listening critically, eyes and ears ready to detect any manipulation of your emotions by the writer or



* KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE - Tailor the presentation of your appeal to the background of your audience. While the point of your letter to the editor of your local paper might be the same as your point in the letter you wrote to the Christian magazine, your presentation of that point will lack effectiveness if you don't consider the worldview of your audience.

*ESTABLISH COMMON GROUND WITH YOUR AUDIENCE - If you know that your sister favors Creon, and you want to persuade her that Antigone was in the right, start off with a conciliatory attitude by identifying common ground and points of agreement, perhaps even quoting points she has made in her arguments. Remember, until your audience begins to identify with you, they will not hear your point of view. Avoid offending your audience. Ravi Zacharias, a master of persuasive speech, often quotes an old Indian proverb, "Don't cut off a person's nose and then give him a rose to smell".

*ELIMINATE CONFLICT RIGHT AWAY - Anticipate all arguments and deactivate them. In doing this, keep in mind that you don't have to rely entirely on reason, but are free to play on emotions and prejudices. Appeals to authority are especially effective as a persuasive device. Think of what values your audience might hold dear and make reference to authorities who represent those values.

*USE OF FIGURATIVE SPEECH - Metaphor, hyperbole, apostrophe, simile - all of these are devices that have strong emotional pull on an audience.

* END WITH AN INDISPUTABLE APPEAL - Hopefully, you have won the assent of your audience.


  • Is my paper approximately 500-750 words long?
  • Is my topic "Who is in the right: Antigone or Creon?"
  • Did I identify my imaginary audience above my title?
  • Have I tailored my appeal to the background of the audience?
  • Have I established common ground with the audience?
  • Have I anticipated arguments and eliminated them?
  • Have I ended with an indisputable appeal?
  • Have I used the text well by choosing specific examples to support my ideas?
  • Have I commented on these examples, drawing out why they support my ideas?
  • Have I proofread my paper for errors of punctuation, capitalization, wrong word choice, vague/slangy language and spelling?




Write a tragedy following Aristotle's guidelines. Your story line does not have to be original -- you may "borrow" a story from literature or real life -- but you must write it according to Aristotle's guidelines for tragedy as given in his Poetics.

LENGTH - Please write from 750-1250 words on this topic

Be sure to include all of the elements discussed in Paper Guide #1:

point of view

In addition, please incorporate the use of figurative language into your story. Figurative language enhances the clarity and effectiveness of your writing by vividly picturing your ideas. Mastering figures of speech was a part of the classical system of rhetoric because figurative language makes all writing -- expository, descriptive, narrative, and persuasive -- more effective. You are probably familiar with several figures of speech already, such as:

simile - saying that one thing is like another
"He eats like a pig."
metaphor - suggesting a likeness by non-literal meaning
"He is a pig."
alliteration - successive words beginning with the same sound
"The lovely lady lay languishing in front of the fire."
personification - attributing human qualities to objects or ideas
"The car coughed and choked."
irony - using a word to mean the opposite of its literal meaning, usually insult disguised as praise.
onomatopoeia - a word whose pronunciation sounds like what it is naming. "Buzz", "Whir", "Babble"

You are required to try your hand at figurative language at least three times in your tragedy. You may choose any of the figures of speech listed above, but you must use at least three different figures of speech. In other words, the assignment cannot be fulfilled by using alliteration three times.

** Most common error on this paper:
Not following Aristotle's guidelines. Before you begin writing this paper, write out a summary of Aristotle’s guidelines for a tragedy. Now, write your story with these specific ideas in mind.



Selectively summarize events from the life of one of the men in Plutarch's Lives, showing the nature of the individual's character.

Please write from 750-1000 words on this topic.

Make a list of the important actions and behaviors in this character's life.
What circumstances (time in history, place, culture, events, people) molded this character's life?
What motivated his behaviors? Make another list.
Now list the person's character qualities - those you observe as well as those that Plutarch points out.
Compare your lists and assign the appropriate character quality to each behavior or motive you have listed.
Ask yourself what you can learn about life and human nature from this man's life.

Notice that Mr. Hinrichs has asked you to show, not to tell, the nature of the individual's character. If you are discussing a character’s dishonesty, make sure to use specific quotes and examples to do so. Also, make sure to comment on what these quotes and examples tell us about the character’s dishonesty. Don’t merely make a statement that the character is dishonest and expect the reader to believe it without proof from the text.

Although characterization often uses the narrative mode of writing, please use the expository mode for this assignment. You should review Paper Guides # 2, 3, and 4 for their explanations of exposition and figurative language, which should be used in all modes of writing, including exposition.

making connections
contrast and comparison
figurative language


** Most common error on this paper:

Randomnly summarizing events from the characters life rather than carefully explaining the subject’s character through summary, commentary and analysis of examples from the character’s life.




Write a dialogue between two jurors at Socrates' trial in which the jurors explain their reasons for voting either for or against Socrates.


Please write 500-750 words for this assignment.


The argument mode shares many things in common with the persuasive mode which we focused on in Paper Guide #3, but there is an important distinction. In persuasion, the goal is to win the assent of the audience. In argument, the goal is to uncover truth. While persuasion uses reason combined with appeal to emotions or prejudices to win assent, argument (the uncovering of truth) is limited to the use of reason alone. Reasoning is the process by which the mind moves from evidence to conclusion.


Reasoning by induction - When we use inductive reasoning, we accumulate particular evidence and use it form a general conclusion. It is a type of reasoning that can never be completely conclusive because it requires an inductive leap: we can never observe all of the possible particulars -- past, present, and future -- therefore our conclusion is only based on probability.

Reasoning by deduction - This is the kind of reasoning used in geometry. It begins with a premise -- a statement that must be self-evident and would not demand proof. This is a more conclusive form of reasoning than inductive reasoning. If the premise is true, then the conclusion will always be true.

Reasoning by analogy - In order for analogy to be a valid form of reasoning, the things compared in the analogy must be similar in important respects and different only in unimportant respects.

Elements of argument you must include:

1) Doubt about or conflict over a proposition.
A proposition is the declaration of a judgment. In this paper the proposition would either be "Socrates is guilty" or "Socrates is not guilty."

2) Appeal to reason using data, premises, or evidence.
There are two kinds of evidence: facts and interpretation of facts (a.k.a. opinion)

3) Inferring the consequence or conclusion from the reasons set forth.
Try choosing names for your characters that meaningfully reflect their character. For example, if one of your characters is a blockhead who will never change his mind, name him Meno (Greek for "I stand"). Another effective Greek literary device to consider using is the introduction of your dialogue with a word that somehow reflects its general theme. For example, remember how The Iliad begins with the word "Rage.”

Writing Component Policies


Please head your papers as follows:

George Goody
GBT 1, Paper # 3
Jan. 5, 1998

Title (every paper must have a title!)

The body of the paper should begin here and should be in block paragraph form or indent form. This means that you will indent at the beginning of paragraphs, or  will instead be sure to hit "enter" twice at the end of your paragraphs so that a line is skipped between paragraphs.

Just to make sure you understand visually how your paper should look, I'll begin this paragraph. But remember, in most expository writing, each paragraph should have at least three sentences.

Due Dates:

Regardless of what day your class meets on, the week it is due, the paper must be submitted by midnight on Friday, Pacific Standard Time.

Late Papers:

Papers arriving in Mr. Hinrichs' inbox after Friday midnight of the due date will be noted as “late”. Papers arriving more than one week late will not be critiqued. This will be noted on your semester evaluation.


One of the aims of the Great Books Tutorial is to give you guidance in analyzing the literature that you are reading. It is hoped that as you progress through the tutorials, you will show increasing evidence of analytical skills both in your contribution to class discussions and in your written compositions. A comment that Mr. Hinrichs is known to make regularly on papers is that he hopes to see more analysis next time. Below are some ideas gleaned from Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren's How to Read a Book and applied to the GBT.

Imaginative Readings

The readings for the entire first semester (Homer, Aeschylus, and
Sophocles) consist of imaginative literature. Primarily, you are to enjoy
your reading of imaginative literature, and to appreciate its beauty.
However, the more mature mind will be expected to go beyond the mere
enjoyment of the work and begin to analyze it - to break it down into the
parts that make it up in order to better understand the author's meaning.
In reading this literature, remember that the author's intent is not just
to tell you about an experience, but to convey the experience directly by
appealing to your senses and imagination. To evoke experience, the writer makes heavy use of impression, suggestion, imagery, and implication - all subtle and indirect devices.

As you read these works of literature, you can begin to analyze by paying
attention to devices the author has used to quicken your imagination, and
by noticing the characters as they develop - their thoughts, feelings,
actions, what they say, their responses to each other and to circumstances. Try to live in each character's world and understand why he does what he does. What truths about life and human nature is the author trying to convey?

It will also help in your analysis of this literature if you have an
understanding of the following terms often used in literary criticism to
define the devices by which an author communicates directly with your
senses and imaginations.








figurative language









Non-Imaginative Readings

In the later GBT I readings which deal with history, philosophy,
government, and theology (Aristotle, Plutarch, Herodotus, Plato, and
Clement ) each author's intent is to communicate knowledge, ideas, and
moral perspective with clarity and precision. Consequently, in reading
these works you will be employing your mind's more intellectual faculties as opposed to having your senses directly affected by what you are reading. In analyzing these readings, look for the ideas that drive the author's thinking. Be sure to follow his train of thought carefully.



"But writing is soooo hard. . . "

Yup. No pain, no gain. Writing is hard because thinking is hard, and most of us have flabby, undisciplined minds. Think about the following things, and then tackle the acquisition of writing skills with the gusto of an athlete in training for the Olympics.

1) Writing comes from thinking. The process of writing forces us to come to terms with our understanding of the subject matter we are writing about.

Often times we think we have a clear understanding of something until we are in a position of having to put it into words. "I know what I mean; I just can't think of how to say it" is somewhat of a self-deluded statement.

2) Writing can be a means to training the mind to think. As Neil Postman points out, writing fixes our thoughts on paper and gives them a permanency that allows us and our audience to scrutinize our thinking for its organization, rationality, accuracy, coherence, and clarity. In affording the opportunity for examining one's own thinking processes, writing becomes a tool for training the mind to disciplined habits of propositional thought.

3) Refined, precise writing is a practical application of logic and rhetoric to one's understanding of the world of ideas, and gives one the opportunity to make one's own contribution to the great conversation.


If you are struggling with putting your thoughts into words, below is a helpful "formula" to help you with body paragraphs, once you have a thesis statement. This formula is meant to be a framework on which to build. As you gain confidence, you can add to it. As you are learning, this formula is a helpful way to make sure you are not summarizing the material, but really attempting to clearly express your ideas about it. You should, as a general rule of thumb, make at least twice as much commentary as the length of the concrete detail. If you take a highlighter and cover the sections which are quotes or examples, what percentage of the paper is taken up? If most of it is highlighted, you need to go back, select less examples and then use your own words and ideas to draw out what these examples reveal.

A helpful pattern for the body paragraph is as follows: (I will use an example from The Iliad so as not to encourage you to imitate this too closely for this paper)
1st sentence: Topic and transition sentence. Here, you tell us what you intend to say in this paragraph and how it relates to
your main theme: "Parish is selfish"
2nd sentence: Concrete Detail #1. Here, you give us a specific example or quote from the text to support your topic sentence: “Rather than showing concern for the consequences which will certainly follow, Paris readily steals Helen away from her rightful husband when Aphrodite offers her to him."
3rd sentence: Commentary. Here, you comment on the example, much in the same way a sports commentator explains what is happening in an athletic event. You can also further explain details of the concrete detail, as support for your topic sentence. “This action leads to a decade-long war which costs the lives of many men."
4th sentence: Further Commentary. Take your ideas further. What else can you draw out of this example? “Furthermore, in the midst of this war, Paris enjoys his time with Helen, not appearing to show any sign of remorse or guilt. ”
5th sentence: Concrete Detail #2. "When Hector comes to him to tell him to get back into battle, Paris wheedles, "I only wanted to plunge myself in grief." (l. 398)"
6th sentence: Commentary. "Paris's words display a disgusting lack of true grief for the men who are dying while he indulges in his feelings."
7th sentence: Further Commentary. "He admits that Hector is fairly criticizing him, but again, he shows no change of heart or shame for his actions.
8th sentence: Concluding Sentence. Here, you give a thought to tie it all together
by restating the main idea presented in the paragraph.. "Throughout the rest of The Iliad, Paris's actions speak loudly to illustrate his character to us."

The paragraph outline given here works well for essays, but you will need to adapt these principles if you are writing a narrative or dialogue. When writing essay paragraphs, do not have any sentences less than 10 words in length. Do not address the reader or refer to yourself with pronouns such as I, we, us or you. Never use a pronoun to refer to something in a previous paragraph. Never use the word "thing"- you can always find a more specific word.

Each paragraph should have at least one direct quote from a GBT text. The entire paragraph should never be more than 1/4 quotation. Please do not use the internet to find quotes from your papers. When writing your papers, you should not be searching the Internet, but a pile of GBT books on your desk. Quotes from the Bible are also very welcome!

There are scads of resources available on the internet for improving writing skills. Many universities have "Writing Centers" and those Writing Centers have online handouts on specific areas of writing -- everything from commas and punctuation to rhetoric to peer review. Below is a list of some links to get you started:

If you think your vocabulary needs work, this looks like a fun site:

To read the oft-referred to Elements of Style by Strunk and White, go to this link:



Before you submit your work, please do the following:

1) Read your work aloud. Yes, aloud. You will have the double check of your eyes and ears to pick up mistakes. If you don't like the sound of something, change it.

2) Read the paper aloud to someone else. Ask this person to stop you if he hears something that doesn't make sense to him, or if something sounds awkward.

3) Methodically proceed through this checklist:

Are my facts accurate?
Is all important information given?
Is there irrelevant info that needs to be deleted?
Is the lead effective?
Is the conclusion effective?
Is the body of the story organized?
Is the thinking logical?
Are there ambiguities in sentence structure, pronoun reference?
Are there long paragraphs which need to be broken?
Are my sentences varied in length to avoid monotony?
Am I redundant? Unnecessarily wordy?
Diction: are specific, precise, and accurate words used? Have I avoided the use of slang?
Are connectives and transitional words used where necessary?
Is my tense consistent?
Is my point of view consistent?
Have I avoided trite qualifiers such as: "very", "pretty", "a little", "rather", etc.?
Do I have any misspellings?
Do I detect errors in grammar, punctuation, usage?
Does my paper fulfill the specifics of particular assignment?
Is my paper the prescribed length?
my pronouns agree in number with their object? A person is "he" or "she", never "they."
The pronoun "this" should always be followed by its object- this idea, this speach. Never just "this"


STRUCTURE- Do I have a title that clues the reader in to the focus of my paper?- Does my opening paragraph hook the reader and state main idea?- Do my supporting paragraphs support and give evidence, in clear- flowing order?- Do my closing paragraphs tie together the evidences with the main idea and rephrase the main idea? If you would like further suggestions for paper editing, see some of the links at the bottom of the "But writing is soooo hard. . ." page.


Too summarize.....
<Editor's note- Please notice that this section is for your humor, not your instruction!>

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually)
9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
10. No sentence fragments.
11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than
necessary; > it's highly superfluous.
14. One should NEVER generalize.
15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
16. Don't use no double negatives.
17. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
20. The passive voice is to be ignored.
21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical > words however should be enclosed in commas.
22. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
23. DO NOT use exclamation points and all caps to emphasize!!!
24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
26. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
27. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
28. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
32. Who needs rhetorical questions?
33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
34. The passive voice should never be used.
36. Do not put statements in the negative form.
37. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
38. A writer must not shift your point of view.
39. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
40. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
41. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
42. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
43. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
44. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
45. Always pick on the correct idiom.
46. The adverb always follows the verb.
47. Be careful to use the rite homonym. And Finally...
47. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.