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UE: ENG 215: The Monster and the Monstrous in Literature: Sample BAD and GOOD paragraphs

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Good Writing: Critical Thinking!

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 reading, discussing well-known authors and artists of the day, playing at cards and walking in their gardens and walking paths.

If you were Mary Shelley in the company of Byron and others, you amused each other by reading out loud, sharing a common interest in a particular book, and sharing with the others your own writing. In her introduction to Frankenstein, her explanation of how this extraordinary novel came to be was due, at least 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).

 

Sample Bad paragraph

I hate wet and reiny days.

It rained a lot in 1816.... a lot - like everyday; the weather in Europe was abnormally wet because it rained in Switzerland on 130 out of the 183 days from April to September. If I was Mary Shelley I might decide to write a book too. Afterall, it was the onnly thing you could do without TV or anything. She said that she "passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva...we occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts... These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation"  So, people were stuck inside and bored. Mary Shelley decided to write a book becuase it was so awful outside. I can totally see her point, you know? I guess I would write a novel if there was nothing else to do.

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 second sentence states a fact, but no cited source is provided - plagiarism!
  3. The rest of the paragraph begins to discuss the topic, but not clearly enough to allow the audience to see where you are heading.
  4. The quote used does little to support the opening sentences.
  5. Grammar errors  and run on sentences are present as well.