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LESSON 3

CREATIVE WRITING

EDITING YOUR WORK

We have been looking at how to plan a creative essay. You might not, in an exam, have time to write a first draft, so the plan is really important.

However, do not forget the importance of editing your own work.

Why is this such an important aspect of the writing exam? You need to be able to remove as many of the obvious little mistakes that irritate a marker before you hand in the essay. This means that you must become much more sensitive and alert to all the different aspects of writing an essay. You must not only correct the spelling and punctuation errors but you must also improve the structure and content of the essay. You need to do this in the planning stage as well as in the actual act of writing your essay. What is important to remember is what the marker is looking for when he or she opens your exam booklet.

You might like to

• experiment with format and style for creative purposes;

Everyone must try to :

• identify and use a range of stylistic and rhetorical devices appropriately such as figurative language, word choice, vivid description, personal voice and style, tone, symbols;

You absolutely MUST

• use a wide variety of sentence types, and sentences of different lengths and structures effectively;

• apply paragraph conventions correctly to ensure coherence by using topic sentences, introduction and ending, logical progression of paragraphs, cause and effect, comparison and contrast;

• use conjunctions, pronouns and adverbs to ensure cohesion.

Examine the following pieces of work and discuss their effectiveness as well as their correctness. In doing this, you will become more aware of your own mistakes and weaknesses:

Here is an introduction. How good is it?

The city is a very busy place but mixed into this rat race is a life of good and bad experiences. I will be exploring the good and bad points I experience in the city on a daily basis.

The introduction is rather vague and generalized. It does not grip the reader and it has the cliché, “rat race”. The rather plodding “I will be exploring” is dull and uninteresting. The learner needs to think of a better introduction. (We shall deal with this in the next lesson.)

How does the introduction link to the first body paragraph?

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give me and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter parcels made by us. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere. Going to parties is good and we always do amazing things and we experience each other’s company on a variety of topics. Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie has different reactions and the discussions afterwards are always lengthy and analyse the film thoroughly.

The topic sentence is the first sentence of the paragraph:

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life.

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This is fine, and so is the detail that is provided in the next sentence:

They both give me and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter parcels made by us.

After that the paragraph falls apart: there is no reason to start to talk about “Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere.” What “wonderful atmosphere? Then the learner talks about “Going to parties is good and we always do amazing things and we experience each other’s company on a variety of topics.” Going to parties has nothing wehatever to do with her experience of living in the city, nor does “Going to movies with my family”.

There are far too many grammatical errors in this paragraph!

Here is the paragraph again, with all the errors of grammar, style and expression underlined:

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give me and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter parcels made by us. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere. Going to parties is good and we always do amazing things and we experience each other’s company on a variety of topics. Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie has different reactions and the discussions afterwards are always lengthy and analyse the film thoroughly.

Here is the same paragraph, rewritten to try to improve those mistakes:

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give my brother and me gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with Easter parcels that we fashion and put together ourselves. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere. Going to parties is good: we always do amazing things and we enjoy the experience of each other’s company. Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie evokes different reactions and the discussions afterwards are always lengthy because we analyse the film thoroughly.

The grammar and expression might be better but remember that the structure is still terrible!

Remember: you learn how to write by WRITING! Therefore, practise writing before the exam and ask someone to assess your work. Use past papers to get an idea of the kinds of topics set.

ACTIVITY

Read and improve this paragraph taken from the learner’s essay:

The cities these days are full of litter. Parks are covered in cooldrink cans and chip packets. No sense for the protection of others ever crosses these stupid minds. My mind is set on not litter in public parks or, more especially, on school property. Cars fumes cause lung problems such as the asthma I suffer from. It forms such a thick layer over the city it looks like mist to me. Smoke from fires cause similar effects to those of cars and moving vehicles. The fires lit in winter flick across the sky and scare me a little, the amount of carbon dioxide released could kill us all. And then, of course, my lifetime hate, cigarettes. These nasty pieces of paper stuffed with tobacco cause a fury within me and make me splutter and feel nauseous every time I pass an idiot smoking one.

ANSWERS AND ASSESSMENT

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The paragraph is structured around one main idea (pollution) which is good. The opening sentence

is the topic sentence, which is fine:

The cities these days are full of litter.

The learner then develops this idea by discussing the litter in parks. This is a good sentence: “Parks are covered in cooldrink cans and chip packets.” The next sentence can be removed. Instead, the learner could describe the people in the parks to SHOW that they do not care about others. The learner could write something like: ‘Joggers throw aside their bottles of water and children spit their gum onto the grass. Teenagers, coming from school, recharge their energy levels and cast aside the chocolate wrappers while they chat of their cell phones.’ The use of details will tell me that people are careless, without sounding prim and tight-lipped. In addition, the focus will still be on the litter in the parks, instead of moving slightly off the topic. Eliminate the sentence about the writer’s hatred of litter in parks – we’ve got the point by this time. Remember: subtlety and suggestion! The next sentence is good and is developed in the succeeding sentences: “Cars fumes cause lung problems such as the asthma I suffer from. It forms such a thick layer over the city it looks like mist to me. Smoke from fires cause similar effects to those of cars and moving vehicles. The fires lit in winter flick across the sky and scare me a little, the amount of carbon dioxide

released could kill us all.”

moved to pollution. Therefore, this needs to be in a separate paragraph or the learner must rewrite the topic sentence to say “pollution”, or “pollution and litter”. The reference to cigarettes jars a little. Be very careful of beginning a sentence with “And”. You must have a VERY good reason for doing this, or do not do it at all.

However, the topic sentence mentioned “litter” and now the learner has

Here is an essay. Read it carefully and then check for all the kinds of errors and weaknesses we have been discussing:

Spelling

Vocabulary

Grammar

Structure

Content

Finally, decide what mark you would give this essay, if you were assessing it. Use the grid provided.

My worst nightmare.

ΑWe=ll be back soon. My mother=s last words kept running through my mind over and over again. She had left that afternoon with my little sister for their visit to the optician. However, it was nearly eleven p.m and there was no sign of them as yet. Over- whelmed by fear, I decided to

go and at least get comfort from our housemaid, Clara in the kitchen.

dismay when I opened the door there was Clara crumpled up on the floor and an empty bottle of rat poison in her hand! She had committed suicide. I tried to feel her pulse but there was non!

Unfortunately, to my utmost

ΑOh God, not now!I thought. Filled with anxiety, I made a dash for the nearest telephone but before I could get over to it, the lights went off and the whole place was as dark as ebony.

A cold chill ran down my spine and out of blue lightning struck and the whole room was lit up.

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ΑEeeck!I screamed in utter horror as I saw advancing towards me, the Αformerly deadClara looking at me with blood thirsty eyes. With another loud shriek, I made for the stairs and to my room where I locked the door and pushed the sofa in the way. I grabbed the nearest weapon in view which was my old cricket bat. The heavy footsteps were coming nearer and nearer to my door. With a loud thump, the door was crashed to pieces, the sofa easily kicked out of the way and there, as large as life was Clara with an ugly grin on her blank face. With no time to waste, I pounced on her and delivered the hardest blow I had mastered from my cricket training. To my relief, Clara collapsed and fell down the flight of stairs. Alarm bells ringing in my head, I made for the nearest sanctuary, the bathroom next to my bedroom.

ΑSafe at last! I thought. Adrenaline was still pumping through my body and I decided to cool it off with a splash of cool water on my face. Reminiscing about the past events, tears began to run freely down my cheeks and all I wanted at the moment was to see my mother and feel her comfort- ing arms around me.

ΑLater,I thought. For now all I needed was to feel the cool water on my skin. I opened the taps and splashed some water on my face. Oh! it felt like heaven to me. Unfortunately, still in my glorious mood, I stood up and looked into the mirror, and there she was standing right behind me. Clara! She must have opened the door when I was having a rinse. My knees felt like jelly.

I hit against her with all my strength, but she did not even budge. A large cold palm grabbed my

throat and brought me closer to my fate. I kicked and twisted but all in vain, she was too strong for me. The monster, with a victorious look, sniffed me from head to toe with an overwhelming satis-

faction in her actions -

dripped on to my head. I said my last prayers as they kept descending. She came closer, closer until I felt something sharp on my neck

She opened her mouth and I could see her white teeth glitter as saliva

ΑAaaahoI woke up screaming at the top of my voice. Beads of sweat running down my forehead. To my relief, I realised it was only a dream. I turned slowly towards the window, and alas, there was Clara face glued to the glass, eyes bulging out and fingers gripping the windowpane. I felt the blood run through my frozen nerves

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Outstanding

   

Meritorious

Substantial

 

Adequate

Moderate

Elementary

Not achieved

   

-

Language, punctuation effectively used. Uses figurative language appropriately.

-

Language, punctuation correct, and able to include figurative language correctly.

- Language and punctuation mostly correct.

-

Language simplistic, punctuation adequate.

-

Language ordinary and punctuation often

-

Language and

-

Language and

ENGLISH FIRST ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE RUBRIC NSC

punctuation

punctuation seriously flawed.

- Choice of words suited to text.

-

Choice of words adequate.

inaccurately used.

flawed.

-

Sentences, paragraphing

-

Choice of words basic.

-

Choice of words

-

Choice of words

-

Choice of words highly appropriate.

Choice of words varied and

-

- Sentences, paragraphs well constructed.

might be faulty in places but

-

Sentences, paragraphs, faulty but ideas can be understood.

limited.

inappropriate.

 

-

Sentences,

-

Sentences, paragraphs muddled, inconsistent.

LANGUAGE

 

-

Sentences, paragraphs coherently constructed.

 

Correctly used.

- Style, tone, register suited

 

essay still makes sense.

paragraphs

SECTION A:

-

Sentences, paragraphs

to topic in most of the essay.

-

Style, tone, register

Style, tone, register lacking in coherence.

-

constructed at an elementary level.

-

Style, tone, register

-

Style, tone, register

logical, varied.

generally

flawed in all aspects.

ESSAY

highly suited to topic.

-

Style, tone, register appropriately suited to

- Text by and large error-free following proof-reading, editing.

 

consistent with topic requirements.

-

Text contains several

-

Style, tone, register inappropriate.

-

Text error-ridden and confused following proof-

-

Text virtually error-free following proof-reading, editing.

topic.

 

-

Text still contains errors

errors following proof- reading, editing.

Length – too long / short.

-

 

-

Text largely error-free following proof-reading,

editing.

Length correct.

- Length correct.

following proof-reading,

editing.

Text error-ridden despite proof-reading,

editing.

-

reading, editing.

50 MARKS

Length – far too long / short

-

-

 

-Length correct.

Length in accordance with requirements of topic.

-

 
   

Length – too long / short

-

CONTENT

 

Code 7: 80 – 100%

 

Code 6: 70 – 79%

Code 5: 60 – 69%

 

Code 4: 50 – 59%

Code 3: 40 – 49%

Code 2: 30 – 39%

Code 1: 00 – 29%

Outstanding

               

Content shows impressive insight into topic.

-

 

80-100%

- Ideas: thought-provoking, mature.

Code 7

- Coherent development of topic. Vivid

 

40

- 50

 

38

– 42

35

– 39

detail.

     

-

Critical awareness of impact of language.

 

Evidence of planning and/or drafting has produced virtually flawless, presentable essay.

-

Meritorious

               

-

Content shows thorough interpretation of

topic.

- Ideas: imaginative, interesting.

Code 6

- Logical development of details. Coherent.

 

38

– 42

 

35

– 39

33

– 37

 

30 – 34

- Critical awareness of impact of language .

       

Evidence of planning and/or drafting has produced a well crafted, presentable essay.

-

 

6

Substantial - Content shows a sound interpretation of topic. - Ideas: interesting, convincing. 35 –
Substantial
-
Content shows a sound interpretation of
topic.
- Ideas: interesting, convincing.
35 – 39
33
– 37
30
– 34
28
– 32
25
- 29
- Several relevant details developed.
- Critical awareness of language evident.
Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced a presentable and very good
essay.
-
Adequate
-
Content: an adequate interpretation of
topic.
- Ideas: ordinary, lacking depth.
30
– 34
28
– 32
25
– 29
23
– 27
20
– 24
- Some points, necessary details developed.
- Some awareness of impact of language.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced a satisfactorily presented essay.
Moderate
- Content: ordinary. Gaps in coherence.
- Ideas: mostly relevant. Repetitive.
25
– 29
23
– 27
20
– 24
18
– 22
15
– 19
- Some necessary points evident.
- Limited critical language awareness.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting that
has produced a moderately presentable
and coherent essay.
Elementary
- Content not always clear, lacks coherence.
- Ideas: few ideas, often repetitive,
Sometimes off topic. General line of
thought
difficult to follow.
-
20
– 24
18
– 22
15
– 19
03
– 17
Inadequate evidence of planning/drafting.
Essay not well presented.
-
Not Achieved
- Content irrelevant. No coherence.
15
– 19
03
– 17
00
– 14
- Ideas: repetitive, off topic.
- Non-existent planning/drafting. Poorly
presented essay.
Code 1 00-
Code 2
Code 3
Code 4
Code 5
29%

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