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LESSON 3 CREATIVE WRITING EDITING YOUR WORK

We have been looking at how to plan a creative essay. You might not, in an exam, have time to
write a first draft, so the plan is really important.

However, do not forget the importance of editing your own work.

Why is this such an important aspect of the writing exam? You need to be able to remove as many
of the obvious little mistakes that irritate a marker before you hand in the essay. This means that
you must become much more sensitive and alert to all the different aspects of writing an essay. You
must not only correct the spelling and punctuation errors but you must also improve the structure
and content of the essay. You need to do this in the planning stage as well as in the actual act of
writing your essay.
What is important to remember is what the marker is looking for when he or she opens your exam
booklet.

You might like to


• experiment with format and style for creative purposes;

Everyone must try to :


• identify and use a range of stylistic and rhetorical devices appropriately such as figurative
language, word choice, vivid description, personal voice and style, tone, symbols;

You absolutely MUST


• use a wide variety of sentence types, and sentences of different lengths and structures effectively;
• apply paragraph conventions correctly to ensure coherence by using topic sentences, introduction
and ending, logical progression of paragraphs, cause and effect, comparison and contrast;
• use conjunctions, pronouns and adverbs to ensure cohesion.

Examine the following pieces of work and discuss their effectiveness as well as their correctness. In
doing this, you will become more aware of your own mistakes and weaknesses:

Here is an introduction. How good is it?

The city is a very busy place but mixed into this rat race is a life of good and bad experiences. I
will be exploring the good and bad points I experience in the city on a daily basis.

The introduction is rather vague and generalized. It does not grip the reader and it has the cliché, “rat
race”. The rather plodding “I will be exploring” is dull and uninteresting. The learner needs to think
of a better introduction. (We shall deal with this in the next lesson.)

How does the introduction link to the first body paragraph?

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give me
and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter parcels made by
us. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere. Going to parties is good and we
always do amazing things and we experience each other’s company on a variety of topics.
Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie has different reactions and the
discussions afterwards are always lengthy and analyse the film thoroughly.

The topic sentence is the first sentence of the paragraph:


My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life.

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This is fine, and so is the detail that is provided in the next sentence:

They both give me and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter
parcels made by us.

After that the paragraph falls apart: there is no reason to start to talk about “Friends of mine also
create this wonderful atmosphere.” What “wonderful atmosphere? Then the learner talks about
“Going to parties is good and we always do amazing things and we experience each other’s
company on a variety of topics.” Going to parties has nothing wehatever to do with her experience
of living in the city, nor does “Going to movies with my family”.

There are far too many grammatical errors in this paragraph!

Here is the paragraph again, with all the errors of grammar, style and expression underlined:

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give me
and my brother gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with easter parcels made by
us. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere. Going to parties is good and we
always do amazing things and we experience each other’s company on a variety of topics.
Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie has different reactions and the
discussions afterwards are always lengthy and analyse the film thoroughly.

Here is the same paragraph, rewritten to try to improve those mistakes:

My neighbours are exciting people who make good moments, in my life. They both give my
brother and me gifts from overseas, while we return the favour with Easter parcels that we
fashion and put together ourselves. Friends of mine also create this wonderful atmosphere.
Going to parties is good: we always do amazing things and we enjoy the experience of each
other’s company. Going to movies with my family is enjoyable too, as each movie evokes
different reactions and the discussions afterwards are always lengthy because we analyse the
film thoroughly.

The grammar and expression might be better but remember that the structure is still terrible!

Remember: you learn how to write by WRITING! Therefore, practise writing before the exam and
ask someone to assess your work. Use past papers to get an idea of the kinds of topics set.

ACTIVITY

Read and improve this paragraph taken from the learner’s essay:

The cities these days are full of litter. Parks are covered in cooldrink cans and chip packets.
No sense for the protection of others ever crosses these stupid minds. My mind is set on not
litter in public parks or, more especially, on school property. Cars fumes cause lung problems
such as the asthma I suffer from. It forms such a thick layer over the city it looks like mist to
me. Smoke from fires cause similar effects to those of cars and moving vehicles. The fires lit
in winter flick across the sky and scare me a little, the amount of carbon dioxide released could
kill us all. And then, of course, my lifetime hate, cigarettes. These nasty pieces of paper
stuffed with tobacco cause a fury within me and make me splutter and feel nauseous every
time I pass an idiot smoking one.

ANSWERS AND ASSESSMENT

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The paragraph is structured around one main idea (pollution) which is good. The opening sentence
is the topic sentence, which is fine:

The cities these days are full of litter.

The learner then develops this idea by discussing the litter in parks. This is a good sentence: “Parks
are covered in cooldrink cans and chip packets.” The next sentence can be removed. Instead, the
learner could describe the people in the parks to SHOW that they do not care about others. The
learner could write something like: ‘Joggers throw aside their bottles of water and children spit
their gum onto the grass. Teenagers, coming from school, recharge their energy levels and cast
aside the chocolate wrappers while they chat of their cell phones.’ The use of details will tell me
that people are careless, without sounding prim and tight-lipped. In addition, the focus will still be
on the litter in the parks, instead of moving slightly off the topic. Eliminate the sentence about the
writer’s hatred of litter in parks – we’ve got the point by this time. Remember: subtlety and
suggestion! The next sentence is good and is developed in the succeeding sentences: “Cars fumes
cause lung problems such as the asthma I suffer from. It forms such a thick layer over the city it
looks like mist to me. Smoke from fires cause similar effects to those of cars and moving vehicles.
The fires lit in winter flick across the sky and scare me a little, the amount of carbon dioxide
released could kill us all.” However, the topic sentence mentioned “litter” and now the learner has
moved to pollution. Therefore, this needs to be in a separate paragraph or the learner must rewrite
the topic sentence to say “pollution”, or “pollution and litter”. The reference to cigarettes jars a
little. Be very careful of beginning a sentence with “And”. You must have a VERY good reason for
doing this, or do not do it at all.

Here is an essay. Read it carefully and then check for all the kinds of errors and weaknesses we
have been discussing:

 Spelling
 Vocabulary
 Grammar
 Structure
 Content

Finally, decide what mark you would give this essay, if you were assessing it. Use the grid
provided.

My worst nightmare.

ΑWe=ll be back soon≅. My mother=s last words kept running through my mind over and over
again. She had left that afternoon with my little sister for their visit to the optician. However, it
was nearly eleven p.m and there was no sign of them as yet. Over- whelmed by fear, I decided to
go and at least get comfort from our housemaid, Clara in the kitchen. Unfortunately, to my utmost
dismay when I opened the door there was Clara crumpled up on the floor and an empty bottle of rat
poison in her hand! She had committed suicide. I tried to feel her pulse but there was non!

ΑOh God, not now!≅ I thought. Filled with anxiety, I made a dash for the nearest telephone but
before I could get over to it, the lights went off and the whole place was as dark as ebony.

A cold chill ran down my spine and out of blue lightning struck and the whole room was lit up.

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ΑEeeck!≅ I screamed in utter horror as I saw advancing towards me, the Αformerly dead≅ Clara
looking at me with blood thirsty eyes. With another loud shriek, I made for the stairs and to my
room where I locked the door and pushed the sofa in the way. I grabbed the nearest weapon in
view which was my old cricket bat. The heavy footsteps were coming nearer and nearer to my
door. With a loud thump, the door was crashed to pieces, the sofa easily kicked out of the way and
there, as large as life was Clara with an ugly grin on her blank face. With no time to waste, I
pounced on her and delivered the hardest blow I had mastered from my cricket training. To my
relief, Clara collapsed and fell down the flight of stairs. Alarm bells ringing in my head, I made for
the nearest sanctuary, the bathroom next to my bedroom.

ΑSafe at last≅! I thought. Adrenaline was still pumping through my body and I decided to cool it
off with a splash of cool water on my face. Reminiscing about the past events, tears began to run
freely down my cheeks and all I wanted at the moment was to see my mother and feel her comfort-
ing arms around me.

ΑLater,≅ I thought. For now all I needed was to feel the cool water on my skin. I opened
the taps and splashed some water on my face. Oh! it felt like heaven to me. Unfortunately, still in
my glorious mood, I stood up and looked into the mirror, and there she was standing right behind
me. Clara! She must have opened the door when I was having a rinse. My knees felt like jelly.

I hit against her with all my strength, but she did not even budge. A large cold palm grabbed my
throat and brought me closer to my fate. I kicked and twisted but all in vain, she was too strong for
me. The monster, with a victorious look, sniffed me from head to toe with an overwhelming satis-
faction in her actions - She opened her mouth and I could see her white teeth glitter as saliva
dripped on to my head. I said my last prayers as they kept descending. She came closer, closer
until I felt something sharp on my neck ............

ΑAaaaho≅ I woke up screaming at the top of my voice. Beads of sweat running down my
forehead. To my relief, I realised it was only a dream. I turned slowly towards the window, and
alas, there was Clara face glued to the glass, eyes bulging out and fingers gripping the
windowpane. I felt the blood run through my frozen nerves ......

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5
Meritorious Substantial Adequate Moderate Elementary Not achieved
Outstanding
- Language, punctuation - Language, punctuation - Language and punctuation - Language simplistic, - Language ordinary and - Language and - Language and
ENGLISH FIRST ADDITIONAL effectively used. Uses correct, and able to include mostly correct. punctuation adequate. punctuation often punctuation punctuation
LANGUAGE figurative language figurative language - Choice of words suited to - Choice of words adequate. inaccurately used. flawed. seriously flawed.
RUBRIC appropriately. correctly. text. - Sentences, paragraphing - Choice of words basic. - Choice of words - Choice of words
NSC - Choice of words - Choice of words varied - Sentences, paragraphs might be faulty in places - Sentences, paragraphs, limited. inappropriate.
highly appropriate. and well constructed. but faulty but ideas can be - Sentences, - Sentences, paragraphs
- Sentences, paragraphs Correctly used. - Style, tone, register suited essay still makes sense. understood. paragraphs muddled, inconsistent.
LANGUAGE

SECTION A: coherently constructed. - Sentences, paragraphs to - Style, tone, register - Style, tone, register constructed at an - Style, tone, register
- Style, tone, register logical, varied. topic in most of the essay. generally lacking elementary flawed
ESSAY highly - Style, tone, register - Text by and large error-free consistent with topic in coherence. level. in all aspects.
suited to topic. appropriately suited to following proof-reading, requirements. - Text contains several - Style, tone, register - Text error-ridden and
- Text virtually error-free topic. editing. - Text still contains errors errors inappropriate. confused following proof-
following proof-reading, - Text largely error-free - Length correct. following proof-reading, following proof- - Text error-ridden reading, editing.
50 MARKS editing. following proof-reading, editing. reading, despite - Length – far too long /
- Length in accordance editing. -Length correct. editing. proof-reading, short
with - Length correct. - Length – too long / editing.
requirements of topic. short. - Length – too long /
short

CONTENT Code 7: 80 – 100% Code 6: 70 – 79% Code 5: 60 – 69% Code 4: 50 – 59% Code 3: 40 – 49% Code 2: 30 – 39% Code 1: 00 – 29%

Outstanding
- Content shows impressive insight into
topic.
80-100%
Code 7

- Ideas: thought-provoking, mature.


- Coherent development of topic. Vivid 40 - 50 38 – 42 35 – 39
detail.
- Critical awareness of impact of language.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced virtually flawless, presentable
essay.
Meritorious
- Content shows thorough interpretation of
topic.
- Ideas: imaginative, interesting.
Code 6

- Logical development of details. Coherent. 38 – 42 35 – 39 33 – 37 30 – 34


- Critical awareness of impact of language .
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced a well crafted, presentable
essay.

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Substantial
- Content shows a sound interpretation of
topic.

Code 5
- Ideas: interesting, convincing. 35 – 39 33 – 37 30 – 34 28 – 32 25 - 29
- Several relevant details developed.
- Critical awareness of language evident.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced a presentable and very good
essay.
Adequate
- Content: an adequate interpretation of
topic.
Code 4

- Ideas: ordinary, lacking depth.


30 – 34 28 – 32 25 – 29 23 – 27 20 – 24
- Some points, necessary details developed.
- Some awareness of impact of language.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting has
produced a satisfactorily presented essay.

Moderate
- Content: ordinary. Gaps in coherence.
Code 3

- Ideas: mostly relevant. Repetitive.


- Some necessary points evident. 25 – 29 23 – 27 20 – 24 18 – 22 15 – 19
- Limited critical language awareness.
- Evidence of planning and/or drafting that
has produced a moderately presentable
and coherent essay.
Elementary
- Content not always clear, lacks coherence.
- Ideas: few ideas, often repetitive,
Code 2

- Sometimes off topic. General line of


20 – 24 18 – 22 15 – 19 03 – 17
thought
difficult to follow.
- Inadequate evidence of planning/drafting.
Essay not well presented.
Code 1 00-

Not Achieved
29%

- Content irrelevant. No coherence. 15 – 19 03 – 17 00 – 14


- Ideas: repetitive, off topic.
- Non-existent planning/drafting. Poorly
presented essay.