Updated February 10, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

The following represents common corrections that are distracting. This is a quick check for your essay when it is
  • formal, and
  • about literature.

  1. Title sets style and tone, has correct capitalization, correct format, contains or alludes to the piece of literature you are discussing in the essay, and provides a useful indication of what the essay is about.
  2. The first sentences mention the author, title of literature you're discussing (correct format, correct use of capital letters), and if you refer to the form, you do so correctly; e.g., In Shakespeare's play [not novel] King Lear, . . .
  3. The first paragraph contains your thesis, direction, and shows me you are going to link your topic to the theme(s) of the piece of literature.
  4. The body paragraphs develop arguments in the same order as you listed them in the introduction.
  5. In body paragraphs, notice if there are spots where you have described a single scene from the literature using several sentences. If there are, compress those sentences into one statement that explains how that scene supports your argument. Now you have plenty of room in that paragraph to go and find one or two more specific references to the text to support the argument in that paragraph.
  6. Use the present tense of verbs to refer to events that occur in a work of fiction.
  7. Change contractions into complete words; replace any short-forms into complete words; spell out most numbers.
  8. Edit out any expressions like "etc.," "and so on," or "and various other instances." Instead, do the work: List all the examples; and if there are too many to list, select the best examples. (Choosing weak examples instead of more obvious and more significant ones will affect your mark for Support.)
  9. Note any series of short, simple sentences. Combine them so you are expressing complete ideas in a variety of sentence structures, and reserve short, simple sentences for moments when you want to emphasize a point.
  10. Integrate all quotations smoothly and grammatically into your own sentences: http://www2.ivcc.edu/rambo/eng1001/quotes.htm Apply the various rules about punctuating quotations, citing sources, using ellipses, using square brackets, skipping lines of verse, formatting long quotations.
  11. Reduce quotations to only words and phrases that are absolutely essential in order to illustrate your point.
  12. Edit IS WHEN errors: Wrong--An example is when...; Right--For example,... or Lear demonstrates his vice of wrath when he...
  13. Edit REASON IS BECAUSE errors: Wrong--The reason is because...; Right--The reason Oedipus blinds himself is that...
  14. Edit question words in statements. Make sure you're expressing an idea; you probably need to replace the question word with the answer. For example, instead of saying the quotation "demonstrates how the protagonist feels," you describe how the protagonist feels using well-chosen adjectives that are supported by the quotation.
  15. Edit for concision.