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12.4 – Taking Steps to Shape Your Essay 2
Gathering Our Thoughts and Writing-to-Learn Posts
Essay 2 is not due until November 8, but it’s important that you consider the big picture as you complete smaller tasks that lead to the final product, especially since Peer Review for Essay 2 will be due November 6. So far, we’ve engaged with a variety of short stories.
As we continue moving forward in our writing process, it would be helpful to have a clear sense of the writing project we’ve invested in with these reading, writing, and discussion activities.
In Essay 2 (See full prompt at the top of module, Writing Project #2.), you’re being asked to write a three- to five-page essay in which you develop a major theme relating two short stories (chosen from the list below) by comparing and contrasting the short stories’ literary elements. This assignment also encourages you to integrate one to two additional outside sources into the discussion to support your interpretive claims.
The steps below describe stages in the writing process you’re moving through recursively and/or linearly.
Step 1: Review the writing-to-learn posts in Writing Project #2 that you completed up to this point and note what, from the writing you already did, you might be able to use as material to build and develop Essay 2. This also gives you a good idea of which short stories to choose as your subjects for exploration and comparison. In other words, you will need to choose short stories to:
read in entirety,
accurately summarize main points so that you may smoothly integrate important ideas in your Essay 2 to provide background and context that your reading audience needs to know,
select relevant quotations from the short stories to smoothly and grammatically integrate with your own writing in correct MLA documentation style,
follow up with significant points of your own related to your quotations, paraphrasing, summary points of the short stories and additional outside sources if you choose to bring in supporting scholarly articles. (Library Resources for Research-Based Essays page in module, Resources to Support Your Success in English 1B, may be helpful to you if you’re bringing in supporting scholarly articles.)
Step 2: Refresh your understanding of Basic Essay Structure noting that this structure/formula is the bare minimum that, on its own, will not help you complete a strong college-level writing. Also review the Rubric for Evaluating Written Work, which be used to assess the quality of your essay.
Step 3: Further develop your initial thoughts in the writing-to-learn assignments by thinking on paper (freewriting, brainstorming, listing, outlining) as much as you know you need to generate ideas about your topic.
Step 4: Be mindful of other qualities for a strong Essay 2:
In comparing and contrasting the two works, you will need to move beyond merely describing how the works are similar or different. You will need to construct a thesis that makes a distinct argument or reasoned statement of interpretation about both works, which will then control the ideas in your entire essay. In other words, think of an overriding theme that the works share and take a position on that theme in relation to both works.
Your thesis should NOT be something like “These two works are similar and different…” or “These three works are about people and relationships.” Instead, come up with a more pointed statement, such as “While the two works share the common bond of parent-child relationships, each work seems to find unique struggles, lending support to the idea that parenting remains the toughest job in the world.”
You may organize your ideas either through a point-by-point structure or subject-by-subject structure. In point by point, each paragraph would focus on one topic (for example, the theme of revelation) and discuss the connection to both works. In subject by subject, you may want to discuss one work fully in the first half of your essay and then the other work in the second half. Personally, I prefer the point-by-point structure because it’s easier to focus on major themes and avoid writing a dull book-report-like review of two fictional works.
Remember that you are to engage in a close reading of each work and consider how the two works share certain elements (narration, point of view, character, setting, symbol, figurative language, plot) or significantly differ from each other. In developing your discussion, you need to bring in sufficient textual evidence to support your statements. I urge you to work through your own understanding of the literary works you’re comparing BEFORE you consult outside sources.
In developing your position, be sure to integrate key quotations from the story to provide textual support for your interpretive statements.
All quotations will be framed by clear signal phrases that provides necessary information about the context or literary work you’re quoting from. Each quotation needs sufficient follow-up with your own reasoning, examples, and details, as well as correct MLA in-text documentation.
Writing Task
Write a post totaling 250-400 words that addresses all of the following questions.
Which of the short stories (provide full author’s name and full title of literary work in quotation marks) will you be comparing, and why did you choose those works?
What are the most important points of your short stories? (Try not to provide summary points; instead, focus on the larger thematic meaning and prominent literary elements.) Also try using some meaningful transitions (ex., however, therefore, on the other hand, similarly, in contrast) so that there is flow in language and a clear sense of how the idea in one sentence relates to the idea in the next sentence.
Carefully choose important quotations from your stories and then develop a body paragraph of 7-12 sentences, making sure to write your own meaningful and grammatical signal phrase to precede quotations and provide correct MLA in-text documentation after the end quotation mark. [(AuthorLastName Page#) if there’s a page number (if not, leave blank) and if author name wasn’t mentioned in the sentence.]
Requirements: 250-400 words or more

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