Writing about Literature: Formal Writing Conventions
Following completion of the “Powder” character analysis paragraph.
1. Be open, honest, direct and in your writing (as well as all your communication). Your readers are interested in what you make of the writing you discuss.
2. Don’t say “would be” – say “is.” For example, Don’t say “One example of the father’s irresponsibility would be when…” Instead, say: “One example of the father’s irresponsibility is when…”.
a. Why? It is more direct, uses fewer words, is more assertive and conveys a stronger voice. Also, the story occurs in the present and writing it this way makes your writing feel more alive and engaging.
3. Have a clear, interesting, and relevant topic sentence (thesis), strong supporting details, and a strong conclusion that shows the importance of your insight. Notice that you are being asked to go beyond the paragraph pattern now, and to make your writing consistently engaging. IN closing, answer the questions “So what?” and “Who cares?”
4. Double space your writing. (e.g. not X 1.5)
5. Use “ “ for titles of shorter works like newspaper articles, poems, and short stories; these are typically part of larger collections; e.g. “Powder”
6. Use italics for the titles of longer works such as novels, plays, and non-fiction books. For example you should write like this: The short story, “Powder,” is from Tobias Wolff’s collection of short stories from 1997 titled The Night in Question.
7. Avoid the use of “I” unless otherwise directed. Many of you have learned successfully how to use “I.” Now, however, I want you as a writer to fade into the background so that only your ideas stand out and do so with a minimum number of words. Because your reader knows you are the writer, the “I’ is implied throughout the pieces you write unless you are quoting others.
a. When it is absolutely necessary to use a pronoun, try “We.” This appears less egocentric and invites the reader, as a colleague or fellow...