Skip to Main Content
Banner Image

Critical Thinking: A Guide for Students: Writing Well

Example assignment

To write a 3-5 page paper which analyzes how the weather may have influenced the writing of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

You will be graded on clarity of your writing, quality of your composition, spelling, grammar, and syntax. See Matrix for more details.


What type of essay is this?

EXAMPLE Good Writing = Critical thinking and close reading!

The weather in 1816 Europe was abnormally wet, keeping many inhabitants indoors that summer. From April until September of that year, "it rained in Switzerland on 130 out of the 183 days from April to September" (Phillips, 2006). Unlike today, one could not simply turn on a television or click through the Internet in order to entertain oneself. Instead, it was much more common for the educated people of the day to spend time at cards, and with books.

If you were Mary Shelley in the company of Byron and others, you amused each other reading out loud, sharing a common interest in a particular book, and your own scribblings. In her introduction to Frankenstein, her explanation of how this extraordinary novel came to be was due at leat in part, to the weather and the company (Shelley, 1816).  "I passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva. The season was cold and rainy, and ...we occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts... These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation" (Shelley, as quoted in Phillips, 2006).


EXAMPLE BAD Writing; poorly thought out

We know nowadays that scientists can create clone life from a test tub. However, in the early 1800s, when Frankenstein was written,, what did we know about life and the effect of electricity on it? That summer of 1816 was stormy, wet and gloomy; was it the lightning that inspired Ms. Shelley to write her now famous novel? "On an evening when Byron and Shelley had been talking about galvanism and human life, whether an electric current could be passed through tissue to animate it, Mary Shelley went to bed and in a half-dream state thought of the idea for Frankenstein (Griffith, 2010). Could her dream have been a look into the future, perhaps even our future? Or was it just a bad dream put to rest on paper? "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley took part in a not so commonplace "contest". The contest was to write a ghost story. The outcome was Frankenstein; what is considered today to be a classic, one of the first science fiction tales, and a story immortalized many times over in film" (


Why is this good writing?

  1. The introductory sentence immediately tells the audience your topic.
  2. The opening paragraph supports the opening sentence.
  3. The second paragraph supports the first paragraph.
  4. There are no spelling errors, and the writing is clear and concise.

What's not so good here

  1. The opening sentence is not on target, and it has a spelling error.
  2. The rest of the paragraph begins to discuss the topc, but not clearly enough to allow the audience to see where you are heading.
  3. The quote used does little to support the opening sentences.
  4. Grammar errors  and run on sentences are present as well.