A letter to my students about their rough-drafts of their stories

To my dear students,

I loved reading your stories over break. I most likely spent more time reading, responding and editing them than you spent writing them.

 For those of you who didn’t write a page of your draft and share it with me on the Friday before Thanksgiving, you missed ten points of your grade, but more importantly, lost the chance for me to review your work and give you feedback that will help you get an A on the final draft ( DUE DECEMBER 17th). If there was too much drama on Twitter about the fake-walk-out, or you were going through a break-up or having a bad-hair-week before Turkey-Day, and forgot to turn this in, talk to me after class!! You need to catch-up. 

If you turned in a FULL page, you got a 100% on the rough-draft. 

When you turn in the Final draft…when? That’s right, on December 17th, I will be GRADING for basic grammar. Here are some things I can take off points for and that you should edit for your first draft. 

AKA a couple of tips to help you pass Sophomore English, so you won’t have to stare at Mr. Sampson or Ms. Baker again all next year (get yo’ credits):

1.) We need to work on making everything PAST tense. Since all of this already happened in YOUR lives, we need to write this in 1st person, past tense. We need to try to not use WAS or WERE as much as possible in this paper. Keep it simple. If you ever don’t know how to make a verb  past tense, GOOGLE the word +  past tense and, voila, it will tell you.  A lot of verbs that are in past will have -ED attached at the end. Delete most of the “was”es or “were”s in your paper, and add an ED at the end, and that will work to make verbs past-tense 70% of the time.

Incorrect: “He run past my grandma,”

Correct: “He RAN past my grandma”

Incorrect:  “We was playing,”

Correct: “We playED”

Not as concise: We were playing.

Better: We played

2.) Every time your stories changes locations start a new paragraph. In general, use paragraphs. They’re  your best friend to make your paper longer. If you were telling this story to a friend and were about to take a breath and change pace , start a new paragraph there!! Read your story outloud to figure out where paragraph breaks should be and where you should put commas. A lot of times when you start a sentence “and so,” it probably should be a new paragraph.

 3.) Don’t forget to use quotes when people are talking.

CORRECT: My mom yelled, “Yall can’t be doing me like that!” (Don’t change what people said to be grammatically correct. If they spoke a certain way, try to estimate what they said and write that down).

NOT CORRECT: And I said stop and she said I hate you and then I be like you crazy smh.

4.) Try not to start sentences with “SO”. So, that’s how we talk but it’s not how we write. Go back and delete as many sos as possible.

5.) Don’t start a sentence with AND or BUT. And I will hunt you down if you do. But I won’t hurt you cuz Imma teacher.

6.) KNOW the difference between NOW and KNOW right NOW!!!

7.) Alot of you already told THREE stories on the first page. You are trying to tell too many stories. SLOW IT DOWN!! If you are starting a whole new story it’s because you didn’t describe the setting, conflict, rising action or climax LONG enough. Don’t jump from story to story to story. ZOOM IN!! Focus on one memory instead of a hundred.

8.) Spell out numbers. Any numbers less than twenty should be spelled out.

Incorrect: “I have 2 sisters and 6 hamsters and I love my 6 pairs of shoes.”

Correct: “I have two sisters and six hamsters and I love my six pairs of shoes.”

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