Essay Comments Code

(Tab and section #s found in A Writer's Resource)


1.  Film, novel, works of art, and long poem titles are underlined or in italics.


2.  Short poems, short stories, songs, and essay titles are in quotation marks.


3.  Always mention the author(s) and text(s) you plan to discuss in your essay in your



4.  Vague thesis--based on your thesis, it is unclear exactly what you plan to discuss in

     your paper.  Can any word or phrase in your thesis be replaced with a more specific

     word or phrase that better exemplifies your essay’s purpose?  (Tab 3, Sec 11f)


5.  Shift in person.  Avoid unnecessary shifts to 1st (I, we, us) or 2nd (you) person.  Maintain 3rd person (The reader, the viewer, one, etc.) when writing literary analyses unless  directed to do otherwise in your assignment sheet.


6.  Shift in verb tense.  For example, when discussing the plot in film or literature, maintain present tense.


7.  Shallow analysis.  Shallow analysis is often a result of using over generalized statements without adequate evidence to support those statements.  For example, if

you are analyzing the importance of soundtrack to character development in O  Brother, Where Art Thou?, refer to specific lyrics from a particular song(s) and how those lyrics connect to the character(s) you are discussing.  Also, short, skimpy paragraphs of four or less sentences may indicate places that call

     for more thought or more material.  Can you supply them with more evidence, more explanation, more example and illustration?  (Tab 2, 8d)


8.  Wordy--try to eliminate unnecessary words or phrases so that you meaning in this

      sentence or paragraph is more clear (Tab 10).


9.  Repetitious--this information has already been stated earlier in your essay.


10.Rephrase this sentence for clarity--the meaning of your sentence is unclear due to how you have structured this sentence, ambiguous phrases you have used in this

     sentence, or words omitted from the sentence (Tab 10).


11. Essay/Works Cited format--see the sample essay in A Writer's Resource. (Tab 6, sec. 28)


12.MLA format for quotations and parenthetical and Works Cited citations. (Tab 6) 

            A.  Parenthetical citations (Tab 6, sec. 24)

            B.  Block quotations (Tab 6, sec. 28)

                        --When you cite more than four lines of prose, use block quotations

                        --When you cite four or more lines of verse (poetry), use block quotations

            C.  Quoting poetry (Tab 6, sec. 24)

            D.  Works Cited citations (Tab 6, sec. 25)


13.Transition--you need transition between your sentences or your paragraphs so that your ideas

      flow together. (Tab 2, 8d-8e)


14.  Grammar/Punctuation:

            A.  Subject/Verb Agreement (Tab 11, sec. 53)

            B.  Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement   

            C.  Commas and Semicolons (Tab 12, secs. 57, 58)


15.  Be more creative with your essay title.  Your title should be more descriptive of your thesis.

            Ex:       Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”:  Finding Self through Madness   


16.        A. Introduce quote in some way or connect it to the sentence that describes it (Tab 5, sec. 22).

            B.  Ineffective use of quote.  How does this quote prove your point?  Be sure to analyze quotes if you use them.  Don’t assume the author understands your

      insinuation by using the quote.


17. Use active voice as much as possible--avoid overuse of "to be" verbs.


18.  Weak Introduction—Is all the information in this introduction relevant to your specific topic?  Are any of your sentences “filler sentences” that merely take up

       space without adding analytical detail or providing focused attention to your specific subject? (Tab 3, 11g)


19.  Weak Conclusion—Do more than merely summarize what has already been stated in your essay.  It needs to answer the “so what?” question by saying why your

      thesis—as well as the analysis that develops it—is relevant to society, the reader.  For example, if you’re writing about Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” how    

      does her representation of the narrator comment on 19th century society and how women were treated within that society?  Also, avoid starting your conclusion

      with phrases like “In conclusion.”  These statements merely state the obvious and are unnecessary.  (Tab3, sec. 11i)


20.  Weak Topic Sentence—your topic sentence should serve as a mini thesis for the body paragraph it introduces and should show a relationship back to your primary



21.  Organization—your paper should be organized in such a way that it reveals a logical progression of the ideas related to your thesis. (Tab 3, 11h)