Class Grading Criteria

Theme (what)
• The essay has a “so what,” a purpose to be.
• The theme of the essay is addressed in all it complexity.
• The theme is thoroughly developed.
• May take on what appears to be an insignificant topic
• Relatable – we can connect to the people or story even if it is has nothing to do with our own lives.
• Must be believable (in nonfiction you have a contract with the reader to not fictionalize too much)

Content (how)
• It shows rather than tells.
• Has people and/or places that the reader can see
• Full of details and description that, most likely, evoke all the senses
• Gives enough background info or context (sometimes in the middle of the essay). Selects info that sparks our imagination (and what is not provided may also spark our imagination).
• The topic is not treated in a too predictable manner.
• It may shows emotion
• Distracting information has been cut.
• Vague and general information has been substituted (or, in fewer instances augmented) with specifics.
• The language is concrete and fresh.
• I is focus (even when I isn't mentioned - I is a character)

• The essay is consciously shaped
• It doesn’t contain unnecessary repetitions (repetitions for emphasis are necessary)

• It is easy to read but deep
• May be dramatic
• May use voice of experience or voice of innocence
• The essay has varied sentence lengths (shorter sentences for emphasis) and sentence structures
• It follows the rule that the hotter the subject the cooler the language and visa versa (except where breaking this rule makes sense).
• It doesn’t not contain filler sentences.
• It uses concrete language
• The essay follows the style principle. In general, sentences have verbs that are actions are verbs and subjects that are characters; they begin and end sentences with the principles of cohesion, emphasis. They shape long sentences.
• The essay demonstrates that every sentence and phrase and word choice has been carefully considered.

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