Pearce Writing Guide For High School Students

Pearce Writing Guide For High School Students

*I use a series of symbols to mark your paper. In the text of your paper, you’ll see the symbol. It is then your job to reference this guide to improve on the error made.

Grammar & Mechanics Areas:


RO = Run-On Sentence

If you have RO (run-on sentence), this means that the sentence must be split into two or more sentences. The most common scenario is a writer placing a comma where a period should have been to end the sentence (a comma splice). Other times, writers use too many connective words in sequence or perhaps they carry a list onward for too long.


Improve Yourself Here:


 FRAG = Fragment/Incomplete Sentence

FRAG means you have written a fragment. Don’t forget that a sentence has multiple grammatical parts that must be part of its work. You need to add on to this sentence to make it complete.


AGR = Verb Agreement Issue

Verb agreement is important because it indicates proper association to nouns. If you have this, it means your associations aren’t correct.


 CAPS = Capitalization Issue

A long time ago in kindergarten and first grade, you learned to capitalize proper nouns, the starts of sentences, etc. Likely you need to proofread better before submitting your paper.


INT = Integration of Quoted Passage Issue

Integration issues revolve around bringing a quoted passage into a paper or essay as its own sentence. The passage needs help, other words to assist it. There are these rules:

  • If words were included before the passage and they DON’T form a complete idea by themselves, then use a comma prior to the inclusion of the quoted passage.
  • If words included before the quoted passage would make a complete thought all alone (would form a complete sentence alone), then use a colon.


Improve Yourself Here:


CS = Comma Splice

A comma splice is when you have included a comma where it didn’t belong


Improve Yourself Here:


CONF = Confusing Sentence

CONF means that the reader isn’t really sure what you are saying in this sentence or series of sentences.


 Content Areas:


OSE = Opening Sentence Direction and Energy

When you open up a paper or an essay, the opening sentence(s) should capture the reader’s interest immediately. This doesn’t mean these sentences need to entertain. It does mean that this sentence or these sentences must relate to the thesis and capture the tone the reader hopes to maintain throughout the piece. I suggest avoiding quotes from the world to start because they are distracting from the purpose of writing a paper.


RHC = Reader’s Hook Connection

In the first four to five sentences of anything you write, you “set the table” for what the reader will see and hear from your perspective. If there are issues for the reader, it’s usually due to the writer being overly obvious, boring the reader with sentences that are general.


TNC = Thesis Not Clear

If you see TNC on your paper, it’s bad…really bad. It means the reader doesn’t see a thesis statement at all or the thesis (where you are taking the reader) isn’t clear.


Improve Yourself Here:


TWA = Thesis Without Angle

There are two segments of a thesis. The first half of the thesis identifies what is being referenced and dealt with. The second half states the angle on the circumstances of the first half. This angular section of the thesis must identify why/how for the topic.


Improve Yourself Here:


ITM = Introduction Exit Transition Missing

When exiting the introduction paragraph or series of paragraphs, the writer must move the reader’s attention smoothly from the thesis concept and into what will be covered about the thesis next (in the next body paragraph).


TS = Topic Sentence Issue

Topic sentences open up paragraphs and must be present. They must have directionality so the reader sees where they are being led and to what they are being led. This marking could mean there wasn’t a topic sentence, but could also mean that the topic sentence wasn’t leading in the right direction (wasn’t connecting to what was said later in the paragraph).


Improve Yourself Here:


CL1 = Commentary Is Only Level One

Commentary is the series of sentences that contain the writer’s ideas on the thesis. These are the sentences that build the story of that thesis and demonstrate how the writer is thinking on the thesis. These sentences are the writer’s analysis and explanation of their point(s)/perspective(s). Commentary has two segments:

CL1 – Level One – These are sentences that establish the base of the idea being leveraged/used. Remember: evidence, whether quoted or not, is not the story of the paper. Evidence establishes a leverage point that the writer can build upon when they analyze and explain. If a writer was just simply translating the meaning of included evidence here, then they’d be doing the wrong thing. Instead, the writer’s first few sentences must establish the concept of this particular line of thinking.

CL2 – Level Two – These are sentences that appear after the base commentary (CL1) has been established. Level Two sentences are the core sentences for analysis. They go out and beyond, giving the reader explicit detail and explanation. These are the sentences that use the leverage established by the evidence and CL1 sentences to analyze and explain the writer’s ideas and perspectives.


Improve Yourself Here:


COM = Commentary Connection

If you see these three letters, it means that the reader is having trouble associating the series of explanation sentences to the overall thesis. This might be happening because you are retelling the storyline of your evidence (never retell please). It could be that what you are saying in the sentences is off-concept for the concept you have established earlier in the paragraph.


Improve Yourself Here:


TRANS = Transition Needed or Issue

Transitions are the linkers to everything in the paper. If a paper or essay is well-written, it will have both between-paragraph transitions as well as in-paragraph transitions. Transitions between paragraphs capture what happened just before than moment in the paper and link this to what happens just after that moment in the paper. In-paragraph transitions create and establish ideas that connect to things said earlier in the paper or that will be discussed later in the paper.  


THREAD = Place To Thread To Thesis

If you see this word, it means there is a nice opportunity to place in words or sentences that will help you thread (interconnect) to the thesis line of thinking. Often, if I place this in your paper, I will give you a suggestion as to what you might place there and what you might say.


WE = Weak Passage/Evidence Choice

It’s important as a writer that when you choose evidence, whether paraphrased or directly-quoted, that the evidence strongly links up with and belongs with your thesis. I sometimes find that writers will choose evidence that doesn’t match their current local mission (what they want to accomplish locally in that particular paragraph). I also find that sometimes the evidence was presented in a less than optimal sequence. Maybe this evidence should have been placed earlier or later in the “story of the thesis” they are telling.


Improve Yourself Here:


EXP = Expansion Needed

Many times, writers simply don’t say enough to explain themselves. Writers tend to be brief, assuming that the reader can “see” and understand all ideas in their head. Remember that the reader cannot see what you are thinking about. As a writer, you must let the writer into your thoughts. You can’t allow entry into your thoughts without lots of explanation and without the sentences being ones that truly tell the why/how story of the thesis you provided the reader early in the paper.


CS = Needs To Be More Concise

Sometimes there is a writer who wants to say everything about everything. When you selected a topic for your paper, you determined an angle of analysis (one that answered the why/how) so you could confine your reader’s attention into a smaller zone. If you are trying to take on too much, the writing loses the reader and that’s the last thing you want to do as a writer.


 COH = Coherence Needed

Coherence is how well the entire paper connects as a whole. This can be done through transitions, through strategic placement of certain sentences and words, through linking to the thesis, etc.


TIE = Suggestion To Tie To

If you see TIE, you’ll also see a way I suggest to make things connect more efficiently or ways to link ideas more powerfully.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s