First of all, spit your gum out, please. I know it helps you cope with your lack of concentration, but a rule is a rule! Not under the chair! In the trash can, please!
Okay, let’s get down to business: This is a writing class, and I expect everyone to give me their best effort; after all, I will be holding your grade hostage, and if you want to graduate, you must accommodate my every writing whim.
Rule #1: All assignments must be written in MLA format. I know it seems a bit OCD to be so picky about particular spaces, indentations, and headings, but c’est ce que c’est! And if you don’t know what that means, you can sign up for French I next year.
Rule #2: If I assign a personal essay you can I, I, I, I all over the place; but in every other formal essay, I don’t want to see personal pronouns. I also don’t want to see contractions, text speak, or slang. Be professional.
Rule #3: Open with a strong introduction: a startling statistic, an anecdote, a quotation, or an applicable example. Do not begin with a question unless you are famous. And if you are famous, you can do what you want as long as you keep me on your Christmas list. The last sentence of your introduction should state your thesis and preview your main supporting points.
Rule #4: Don’t preach to me at the end, don’t give me a happy-sappy-ever-after ending, and don’t dribble away to nothing. Re-state your thesis, but not in the exact same way; review your main points; and don’t introduce new material. End with a strong declarative sentence with a general application that your reader can take away. Don’t end by stating your desire to work for world peace. That’s been done and failed.
Rule #5: Don’t use clichés or overused phrases. If it sounds like a lyric to a pop song, it probably is. Think of a fresh way to say what you want to say because some phrases are as old as the hills and leave me cold as ice!
Rule #6: You are not Hemingway, so you don’t need to cut adjectives and adverbs to the bone, but think about every modifier you include. Read your sentence with it and without it and see what incredibly illustrious form is best for your undying, world-changing purpose. Get the idea? The bulk of your text should be short words that you can dredge up from your childhood and not the fifty cent variety that you learned from skimming “Word Power” in your grandfather’s bathroom copy of Reader’s Digest.
Rule #7: After you’re done writing your essay, stand in front of the mirror and read it out loud. If you can’t stand it, I probably won’t like it either, so revise before your initial submission.
Rule #8: If you are having trouble starting, cluster, brainstorm, or freewrite to get the ideas flowing. If you are still stuck, write down all the things you thought you’d never tell anyone. Write about who really broke your mom’s favorite lamp and about the time you set fire to your neighbor’s poodle. Once you get a groove going, destroy the incriminating part or rewrite it and blame it on your brother.
Rule #9: Use proper grammar and punctuation. “Let’s eat, Grandma” is addressing Grandma; whereas, “Let’s eat Grandma” will put you in the Hall of Fame with the Donner Party. So punctuate properly so the reader understands what in the world you mean. And please, no run on stream-of-consciousness sentences. This is not the 60s and drugs are illegal.
Rule #10: Last, if I get an email at 11:00 p.m. the night before the assignment is due, asking what the assignment is, you get zero on principle alone. Plan and execute your assignments plenty of time in advance because computers hate you and your dog is really waiting for that chance to eat your homework. It tastes just like chicken.
I’m looking forward to a great year, and remember I can be bribed with coffee and chocolate!