this info is down below its not a essay its a paragraph
1302 Notes – 06 – February 4, 2021
Writing about Fiction (& Exam)
1. Putting the “Composition” into Composition II
(how to start and end paragraphs with your topic sentence)
2. The Academic Paragraph—with an Example
(it starts and ends with the same topic sentence)
3. Analyze First
4. Let’s Practice Topic Sentences (which will start and end the paragraphs)
5. Let’s Practice Finding Support (for the topic sentences which go where?)
6. Drafting the Paragraph Assignment (establishes today’s attendance)
7. Homework Help (Paragraph & Exam 1: Fiction)
8. Checklist of Graded Assignments, Week 3
HOMEWORK for NEXT TIME: 1- ANALYZE a short story. 2-DRAFT an
academic paragraph of 8-24 sentences, communicating one writing technique in that
story. 3-REVISE the paragraph, then UPLOAD it by Sunday night. 4-TAKE Exam 1:
Fiction any time until next Wednesday (note: no new readings).
1. Putting the “Composition” into Composition 2
• You are LEARNING ABOUT FICTION in order to WRITE ABOUT FICTION
• The skills you use to write about fiction, you can then use in real life
to write about incident reports, peer reviews, etc.
• We will start by writing an ACADEMIC PARAGRAPH
• Next week, we will write an ESSAY, which will include:
• An introductory paragraph
• 2 or more academic paragraphs, and
• A concluding paragraph
2. The Academic Paragraph (with an Example)
ACADEMIC PARAGRAPHS, in literary analysis, exist to communicate ONE (1) specific
insight about a story, poem, or play. This time, we’re doing short stories.
WHY WRITE? Consider Comic-Con, book clubs, and fandoms (like Trekkers or
Browncoats). Also, this develops your ability to look at evidence and build a theory
based on that evidence—a good skill to have in law, in medicine, in business, etc.
HOW & WHEN TO WRITE? Use today’s class time to write an academic paragraph
explaining one (1) insight about one (1) short story. You will then have a chance to
The paragraph starts and ends
with the same point. This “topic
sentence” is the whole reason
the paragraph exists. Be sure to
name the author & title. If you
think a reader may need a
reminder about the term you
are using, define it. If you don’t
use your own words, you must
use quotation marks and cite
your source! It’s a good idea,
toward the start, to give a one-
line summary of the story in
your own words—name the
main characters. You should
have points to make that
support your topic sentence. Put
them before the quotes that
support them. Support can be
given as quotes and as facts
from the story. If you use a story
with page numbers, remember
to put the page number of the
quote in parentheses after the
quote. Make sure you proved
your point, by the end, even if
you feel you’re stating the
obvious, because you probably
are not stating the obvious.
Finish with a restatement of the
revise and fix any glitches before uploading by Sunday night. Your paragraph will be
peer reviewed by at least 3 other students.
WHAT IS IT? A good academic paragraph follows a specific, easy-to-learn structure: It
is one (1) block of text, 8-24 sentences long, initially indented 5 spaces. It starts with a
Topic Sentence that states your general point and ends with a restatement of that same
point. In between, it supports that point with your own reasons and logic, based on
specifics you’ve noticed from the work. Specifics include:
• Names, when available (Not “alien girl” but “Triolet.” Not “soda” but “Coke”).
• Descriptions (not “Triolet’s pretty” but Triolet reminds Enn of masks from a
school play—she has classic good looks.)
• Numbers (not, “Enn hasn’t kissed much” but “Enn has only kissed three girls at
the start of the story”).
• QUOTES (not just dialogue) from the story – at least 2 quotes/body paragraph!
Here is An Example
The girls’ extraterrestrial origin, in Neil Gaiman’s “How to Talk
to Girls at Parties,” is obvious in their dialogue. Dialogue is “a
literary technique in which writers employ two or more
characters to be engaged in conversation with one another”
(literarydevices.net).1 In “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” Enn
and his friend end up at a party full of unusual young women,
and Enn speaks to several. The girls’ dialogue references outer-
space a lot. Triolet talks about her people being saved inside a
star until they can be beamed across the universe. The girl with a
gap between her front teeth says, “’I could learn more in sun,
again. Or in the deeps. Jessa spun webs between galaxies. I want
to do that.’” More importantly, the girls refer to themselves as
something other than human. Wain’s Wain describes herself as a
damaged product that almost gets disposed of! She also tells of
mistaking humans wearing golden, winged bug costumes at
Carnival as her own people. Triolet explains that “’I am a poem,
or I am a pattern, or a race of people whose world was
swallowed by the sea.’” The gap-toothed girl tells Enn how
uncomfortable she was when she found herself in a body,
dealing with organs and vocal cords and crying. Although Enn
doesn’t make the connection, all of this talking implies that these
girls are not only unusual but—because of the outer-space
references—they are aliens. In this way, Gaiman uses dialogue
to reveal that the girls at this party are extraterrestrial. (257 words)
But wait – don’t start drafting your paragraph quite yet!
1 WARNING: The definition of the technique and the summary of the story are the two places where students are most
likely to “accidentally” plagiarize. Use your own words, or put someone else’s words in quotation marks.
3. Analyze First
What step is most commonly left out, when
students decide to write about a text? Having
something to say! Analyze the text (a story) first.
You can start by deciding which story you like
(of the 8 we read, or one of the extras suggested
under “Homework Help” in Class Notes 05), then
review it for techniques. Or you can start by deciding on your favorite technique,
and skim the stories for one that does it well. Either way, look at one or more works
through the lenses of genre, plot, character, setting, point of view, subtext,
symbolism, irony, theme, etc. Ask yourself why the writer made the choices they did,
and see which topic feels strongest.
Your idea for a paragraph or essay is called an insight. Try on several insights before
you commit to one. The insights should result from you looking at different aspects of
the story you choose, and may include references to:
• Whether a work is written to be smart (and by which criteria), or
• Whether a work is written to be popular (and by which criteria), or
• What genre a work most fits, or
• How the work uses plot (exposition, in medias res, conflict, crisis, climax,
denouement, deus ex machina, foreshadowing, flashback), or
• How the work uses character (protagonist, antagonist, hero, heroine, villain,
secondary character, flat character, round character, static character, dynamic
character, motivation, anti-hero, archetype, foils, and Mary Sue), or
• How the work uses setting (historic setting, geographic setting, physical setting).
• How the work uses point of view (first person, 3rd-person limited, 3rd-person
omniscient, 3rd-person objective, unreliable narrator), or
• How a work uses dialogue (lies, exaggerations, sarcasm), or
• How a work uses theme or irony, or
• How a work uses symbols (universal, conventional, or literary), or
• How a work uses subtext or allusion.
HINT: It’s best to know your concept before you try writing about it. Don’t choose
“foils” because it sounds good, if you’re just going to reveal a lack of understanding.
Here are some brainstorming techniques to try. Only once you think you can answer
“why” about one technique in one story, are you ready to state a topic sentence. Beware
of your anxiety telling you there are no good ideas. There are so many good ideas it’s
mind boggling. (Though I will admit, a surprising number of students choose to write
about Liu’s “Paper Menagerie”). Here is an analogy that may help – you are not
wandering thought a desert, looking for one little sprig of green (which is your idea).
You are wandering through a jungle, trying to decide which of the gazillions of leaves
“How do I Analyze a Story?” Reread
this section (3. Analyze First). Also
look at Class Notes05, which
analyzes “If You Were a Dinosaur”
and “Memento” in part .
surrounding you is the one on which to focus.
If you really start to panic, see our Week 3 notes for an Emergency List of topics.
4. Let’s Practice Topic Sentences
• Topic sentences should be simple or complex sentences, not compound sentences
(see HERE). Before adding the title and author, it should be short and sweet. The
shorter a sentence is, the more powerful it is.
• If the paragraph is stand-alone (as these will be), introduce the author and title as
part of the topic sentence.
• At the very least, note a technique the author uses:
The theme of “Memento Mori,” by Jonathan Nolan, is time.
• Remember that you can make an arguable claim: The theme of “Memento Mori,”
by Jonathan Nolan, is death. (Wait, we think, wasn’t the theme time?)
• Better yet, note why the author uses that technique: The theme of time in
“Memento Mori,” by Jonathan Nolan, emphasizes Earl’s disability.
• The topic sentence FRAMES THE PARAGRAPH! IT STARTS AND ENDS THE ACADEMIC
PARAGRAPH. The better writers among you won’t want to do that, but clarity is
more important than style; show me you can walk before you start dancing.
• When you repeat the topic at the end of the paragraph, don’t repeat your topic
word-for-word (however, word-for-word is better than not repeating it at all).
Nolan stresses Earl’s debility with his theme of time.
5. Let’s Practice Finding Support
Do not just throw in two random lines from the story, and consider that “supporting
your point.” There should be a sensible connection between what you are saying in your
paragraph and the quotes you include to support it. In “Everyday Use,” which
statements support the insight that…?
1. Hakim might be a Muslim? A, C, F
2. Hakim and Wangero are progressive people? D, G
3. Wangero may actually like her family. B, E
A. “’Asalamalakim, my mother and sister!'”
B. “‘You don’t have to call me by it if you don’t want to…. I know it might sound awkward at
C. “We sat down to eat and right away he said he didn’t eat collards and pork was unclean.”
D. “‘Not ‘Dee,’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!'”
E. “‘Maggie’s brain is like an elephant’s!'”
F. “‘I accept some of [their Muslim neighbors’] doctrines, but farming and raising cattle is not
G. “‘It’s really a new day for us. But from the way you and Mama still live you’d never know
In “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” which statements support that…?
1. Enn thinks Vic is good with girls? A, B,
2. Vic thinks Vic is good with girls? C, J
3. Enn actually can talk to girls? D, G
A. “‘After an hour you’ll be off somewhere snogging the prettiest girl at the party, and I’ll be in
the kitchen listening to somebody’s mum going on about politics or poetry or something.'”
B. “‘It’s all right for you… They fancy you. You don’t actually have to talk to them.'”
C. “‘They’re just girls … They don’t come from another planet.'”
D. “‘Do you mind if I sit here?'”
E. “‘Um… do you want to dance?'”
F. “‘You got to talk to them. And that means you got to listen to them, too. You understand?'”
Remember: You can quote non-dialogue as support, too.
In “Memento Mori,” which lines support the insight that…?
1. Earl leaves notes for himself B, C, D, E, F,
2. There is an odd up side to Earl’s condition? A, G, H, I
A. “Your advantage in forgetting is that you’ll forget to write yourself off as a lost cause.”
B. “Every inch of the desk is covered with Post-it notes, legal pads, neatly printed lists.”
C. “They tried to teach you to make lists in grade school, remember…? You’ve become the
exact product of their organizational lessons. Because you can’t even take a piss without
consulting one of your lists.”
D. “Too many of these letters now. Too many for you to dig back into every time you want to
know the answer to some little question.”
E. “The skin is even in color except for the solid black arrow on the inside of Earl’s wrist,
pointing up his shirtsleeve. He stares at the arrow for a moment. Perhaps he doesn’t try to
rub it off anymore. He rolls up his sleeve… The arrow points to a sentence tattooed along
Earl’s inner arm. Earl reads the sentence once, maybe twice. Another arrow picks up at the
beginning of the sentence, points farther up Earl’s arm, disappearing under the rolled-up
F. “The rest of his upper torso is covered in words, phrases, bits of information, and
instructions, all of them written backward on Earl, forward in the mirror.”
G. “Who knows what we’ve done to get here? Must be a hell of a story, if only you could
remember any of it. I guess it’s better that you can’t.”
H. “It doesn’t matter what you do. No expectations. If you can’t find him, then it doesn’t matter,
because nothing matters And if you do find him, then you can kill him without worrying
about the consequences. Because there are no consequences.”
I. “You’re different. You’re more perfect. Time is three things for most people, but for you, for
us, just one. A singularity. One moment. This moment. Like you’re the center of the clock,
the axis on which the hands turn. Time moves about you but never moves you. It has lost its
ability to affect you.”
6. The Official Paragraph Assignment
1. Write only ONE paragraph. Standard academic paragraphs are usually no
fewer than 8 sentences long, and no more than 24 sentences long. Writing too
long is just as bad as writing too short, though you can write a long first draft and
then edit it down for length. A single paragraph means that you indent once, at
the start of the paragraph, but do not indent again.
2. Start the paragraph with a topic sentence in this pattern: [Title] by [Author]
uses [technique] [for this effect]. It is stronger to be able to say why a story uses
a particular technique than to just say that it uses a particular technique.
3. Develop the paragraph with applicable examples from the story in question.
You are required to provide at least two direct quotations, using parenthetical
reference–for example, We see that Mama misses the past with comments like,
“It is… just like the one that burned, except the roof is tin; they don’t make
shingle roofs any more” (Walker).
HINT FOR GOOD WRITING. Make your point first, then support it with an example or quote from the book.
For example: Walker describes Wangero as the pretty one, noting: “[Wangero] is lighter than Maggie, with nicer
hair and a fuller figure.” This gives the impression that you are in charge of the point of the paper, as opposed to
the impression that you’re chasing after quotes.
4. Revise your paragraph before uploading (under “Writing Assignments”) to
correct mistakes and give it polish. In particular, make sure you:
• Avoid spending any great amount of time retelling what happened in the story. Only
refer to plot points that support your topic sentence.
• Mention those plot points in present tense (Wangero wants the quilts) instead of past
tense (Wangero wanted the quilts). This makes it clear that you understand you’re
talking about fiction and not a real occurrence.
• Put the title of a short story in quotation marks –“Everyday Use.” Do not underline or
• Refer to the author by his/her full name the first time you reference him or her, but after
that, refer to the author by his/her last name only (Walker seems to think….)
• End paragraph by reiterating your main point, although in different words.
5. The draft you upload should be double-spaced, 14-point or 16-point Times
Roman or Arial font.
You will be graded on the basis of Sentence Skills, Coherence, Unity, and
Development, as well as your skill in punctuating titles and
7. Homework Help: The Paragraph & the Fiction Exam
The first piece of homework to deal with is getting a draft of your paragraph
down. While you are letting that simmer, however (or running your draft through the
24/7 app on our MyTCC page, and/or using our campus Reading/Writing Resource
Center), study for the Fiction Exam. The exam will be online, which makes it officially
an open note exam (not group work!). However it will also be timed, and you will be
asked to sign an honor statement. There will be between 20 and 35 questions from
Notes 01 through Notes 05. The majority of the questions will be multiple choice or
true-and-false, and will focus on vocabulary words, stories we read, and techniques we
covered, such as….
The difference between Smart & Popular Literature
Protagonist (vs. Hero)
Antagonist (vs. Villain)
Deus ex machina
In Medias Res
Point of View
First Person POV
Theme, Text vs. Subtext
Symbol (know where to look for Symbols)
Finally, remember what stories we read and who
wrote them, and the skills we learned.
Just remember that the fiction paragraph counts more than the fiction exam does!
To submit the paragraph, go to Writing Uploads on our MyTCC page. Make sure you
keep clicking “next” and “confirm” until you get a congratulations statement!
8. Checklist of Graded Assignments, Week 3
□ Video Quiz: How to Quote in Under 5 Minutes (due end-of-day Wed., Feb. 3)
□ Reading Quiz: “WelcomeTM” & “Paper Menagerie” (end-of-day Wed., Feb. 3)
□ Write, revise, & upload a fiction paragraph (just one paragraph, not an essay)
for other students to peer-critique – due end-of-day Sunday, February 7).
□ Take EXAM 1: Fiction by end-of-day Wednesday, February 10, online, under
“Tests and Quizzes” on our MyTCC page.