Peer Review Discussion: Narrative Essay

Peer Review Discussion: Narrative Essay
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For this discussion board, you’ll be writing a full essay of 1000-1250 words instead of an initial post of only 250 words. Your five additional responses, as before, need to be only 100 words each. The purpose of this discussion board is to share your work with your peers and to give and receive feedback regarding how to revise the essays and make them even better. Please scroll down to find the directions for both the essay itself and the peer responses:


Narrative Essay


Your first essay of the semester is a work of creative nonfiction that tells a story about somebody you know (or knew) personally. For your focus, choose one person and one (yes, only one) of his or her personal characteristics. Although human beings are complex creatures with many different qualities and personal contradictions (sometimes we’re kind, and sometimes we’re mean; sometimes we’re serious, and sometimes we’re silly), focus on just one adjective that best describes that person. The adjective is up to you—it can reflect his or her most common emotional state (e.g., cheerful, depressed, relaxed, or anxious) or it can reflect some of his or her most common behaviors (e.g., clumsy, generous, thrifty, or obsessed with a hobby). Be creative, but be focused.

As you plan and compose your rough draft, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

Choose only one person, and make sure it’s somebody you know (or knew) personally—NOT a celebrity, a historical figure, a fictional character, a spiritual entity, or yourself.
Choose only one personal characteristic for your focus and stick to it.
Compose a specific, detailed narrative that best illustrates how this person embodies that particular quality. Can you think of a specific incident (or series of related incidents) that best illustrates how funny, charming, anxious, strict, etc. this person is or was?
Use a narrative structure that that tells either one story or a series of anecdotes that illustrate your thesis. (If you use a series of anecdotes, make sure they flow together. Use transitions.)
Avoid using “homework language” (such as “The person I chose for this essay…”) that makes your work of creative writing sound like a mandatory homework assignment (even though it admittedly is).
Use the following chapters in our textbook (Composition and Grammar) as your guide: Chapter 5 (“Planning/Prewriting”), Chapter 7 (“Thesis Statements”), Chapters 8 and 9 (“Introductions” and “Conclusions”), and most important of all, Chapter 12.1 (“Narration”). As always, you can find the link to our free textbook by clicking on “Pages” in Canvas.
TITLE YOUR ESSAY, perhaps with something poetic or clever, and make your title the first line of your post.
Be sure your essay is between 1000-1250 words.
Compose your essay in Microsoft Word, Open Office, or any other word processor of your choice. However, do not attach the file. Instead, simply copy and paste the text of your essay into the body of your post. (The formatting may not be perfect, and that’s okay.)


Deadline: Please post your essay by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, February 8. No matter what, DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. This is a personal essay, not a research project, so there should be no reason at all to consult any outside sources other than our course textbooks. This essay is based on your own experiences and feelings and should reflect your own writing skills.

After you have posted your essay to this discussion board, it will be time to do five peer responses. Here’s how it works:


Peer Review


No matter what your skill level is regarding reading and writing, you are nevertheless a reader. You have insight to provide. Keep that in mind as you read these guidelines.

Like any other course discussion in class, it’ll be up to you to post five responses of 100 words each by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10. As before, don’t reply to any post that already has three responses until everybody has at least two responses. (Review the discussion board directions that you can find in the “Pages” menu option on Canvas.)

But how should you respond? Remember that the main goal of peer review is to give and receive feedback on each other’s work to make good essays even better. (We don’t compete in this class, we collaborate.) Here are some questions to consider (keeping in mind that you don’t necessarily have to answer all of them for all five essays that you choose):


1) What is the author’s thesis? See if you can identify it and quote it.

2) What are the top five most interesting details in the essay? Specify.

3) Where, if anywhere, does the author stray from his or her focus?

4) Describe the author’s organizational pattern.

5) How interesting is the author’s opening?

6) How satisfying is the author’s conclusion?

7) What possible grammatical issues do you see?

8) How else can this essay be made better?

9) What did you like most about this essay?


As the instructor, what I’m looking for in a good peer response is useful, specific information. No credit at all will be given to a response that says something like, “It looks pretty good to me. Maybe change some words around. I like it!” That response means, essentially, nothing at all.

However, you are also responsible for being civil. I don’t need to harp on this point, because I can tell already that we’re a friendly group. I have in the past, though, seen responses like, “LOL IT’S A WONDER YOU’RE EVEN IN COLLAGE.” Yes, a student actually wrote that, and yes, that student actually misspelled “college.” Please don’t do that. That’s not helpful at all and credit will not be awarded for incivility. (Thankfully, such incidences are very rare, and the “collage” incident happened at a different school in the area, not HCC.)

On a more positive note, I’m looking forward to reading your essays. Happy writing!

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