Composition Questions

Composition Questions

Relate the statement, `First impressions count,` to the formatting of an assigned paragraph or essay.
“First impressions count” is a statement that is usually used to describe human relations.  Once an impression is made when two individuals meet, it is not likely that the impression will change.  The same can be said about a composition.  Once a reader reads the introduction, an opinion is formed, and if it is not positive, then the reader will not continue to read the rest of it.

            The introduction is the first part of any writing; therefore, it is the first impression that a reader gets when reading a piece of writing.  The meaning of this is that the writer must pay careful attention to writing the introductory paragraph.  It is imperative that the writer catch the attention of the reader within the first few sentences.  It is helpful if the first sentence grabs the notice of the reader.  It can be achieved in several ways, but the most used method is to start with a question for the majority of writing types.  If a narrative or story is the type of writing that is the focus, then the writer will most likely start the composition with an exciting or interesting grabber.

            If the writer makes a good first impression with his/her writing, then the composition is more likely to be read.  Just like with human relations, the more interesting the introduction, the more likely that the association will continue.

Summarize how the five steps to writing a successful narrative can truly make a difference in the written document.

The narrative is an essay that is a nonfiction experience that is written in story form.  By writing a narrative, a writer must reconstruct an occurrence from the past.  This experience can be one that is personal or it can be about someone else and his/her experience.  There is also a moral or lesson in a narrative and that is the purpose of the writing.

            The first step in writing a narrative is to use chronological order.  If the writer chooses not to use chronological order, then the reader will find the narrative to be confusing.    The writer must understand that the reader was not at the event that is the topic and a logical order is necessary.

            Next the writer must center on the conflict.  Without the conflict, the narrative is just another essay.  The conflict deserves the focus because it is through it that the lesson is learned.  The conflict also creates interest in the narrative.

            Vivid details to “show, don’t tell” step is important.  Imagery is vital for the reader to truly experience the narrative.  By using descriptions, it allows the reader to picture of the event as if a movie is running in his/her brain.

            Examples are also imperative.  It is through examples that the reader can identify with the narrative.  Without examples, the reader may ask the question, “What does this have to do with me”?  If the reader cannot identify with the narrative, then he/she will be less likely to read the narrative.

            The last step to writing a successful narrative is to make a point.  By making a point, a lesson is learned.  This is essential because it is the whole purpose in writing the narrative because the narrative is a teaching tool.

            If any of these five steps in writing a narrative is skipped, then the writing is compromised.  Just sitting down to write without a plan, such as using the five steps, is detrimental to the final draft.  A writer must understand that writing is a process and there are significant elements that must be included in the narrative.

3. Referring to the assigned essay, `The Game of My Life,` by Jeff Obafemi Carr (page 542), give examples of, and assess Mr. Carrs attention to the last three steps of writing a successful narrative: center on conflict; use of dialogue; and know your purpose.

            The Game of My Life by Jeff Obafemi Carr is a wonderful example of a narrative.  The reason that it is a positive example is because of his attention to the five steps of writing a successful narrative, especially the last three steps.

            Carr uses conflict to create tension and interest in the narrative.  From the beginning of the narrative, he alerts the reader that it is important to him that his father shows up to his game and that he is doubtful that he would.  Once the reader is invested in the conflict with Carr, he/she finds out that the father comes to the game, the conflict switches to the conflict of the importance of his ability to play the game and to make his father proud.

            Examples are also important to Carr’s narrative.  He shows that the team was the top rated one, the best players were fatigued and that he was new to the game.  The dialogue between the father and the son were examples that would not have been as effective if he had just described the event.

            The purpose was to prove that parent support is important to a person and that doing your best is what really matters. From the beginning the purpose of parental support grabbed the reader.  It reminded the reader, like everyone else, of that one time when it was essential to his/her self esteem that there be a parent on the sidelines cheering for him/her.  The last line of the story presents to the reader that Carr is not only happy that his father recognized his ability, but Carr knew just how hard he had pushed himself.

            Paying close attention to the last three steps in writing a narrative makes Carr’s narrative a success.  If he had haphazardly written it, he would not have been as effective in his purpose.

Summarize the three types of examples, which can be used as a writing technique, to add specific detail to paragraphs.

The paragraph is a crucial part of any writing.  There are three types of examples used in paragraphs to add specific details.  These examples are a word or phrase, sentence length, and extended.

            The first type of example is the word or phrase example.  This type of example is used when a writers wants to use a brief example in the paragraph and then move on.  He/ she does this so that he/she can briefly make an illustration for the point that he/she is trying to make.  The word or phrase should be set apart from the rest of the sentence by commas.

            The next type of example is the sentence length example.  This type is used when the writer needs to be more detailed with the example.  This need would need more than just a word or phrase for description and more elaboration would be needed.  The writer would need to lengthen the sentence for a better explanation of the point being made.  Therefore, the example would be less vague.

            The last type of example is the extended example.  This type will be the whole paragraph excluding the topic sentence.  The topic sentence would state the main or general point and then the rest of the paragraph would be an example or examples used for explanation.  The extended example is used when the reader is not familiar with the subject and needs a better understanding.

            The use of word or phrase, sentence length, and extended examples are tools that good writers would need to use if he/she has his/her audience in mind while writing a paragraph.
5. Compare the importance of the tools of a writer (description, narration, and example) to those of a carpenter.

            Writing is a creation of the writer just as a house or building is to a carpenter.  A carpenter must have tools to perform even the simplest task of his/her trade.  The writer must also use the tools of his/her trade.

            Every writer should have a toolbox equipped with the tools that will make him/her a better writer.  Like a carpenter needs a hammer, a writer needs to use description.  Like a hammer, it is essential to a toolbox.  Without description, writing is vague, dull, and often the reader cannot understand what the writer is writing about.  Description allows the reader to visualize and experience the writer’s topic completely and keeps him/her waiting for the next detail.

            The next tool would be narration.  Like the screwdriver in the toolbox of a carpenter, narration is vital to the toolbox of the writer.  A writer must be able to be a storyteller.  It impossible to follow a story when a writer has not planned his/her story well and jumps from point to point.  The storyteller must use narration so that the reader can visualize him/herself in the story.

            The last tool in the writer’s toolbox would be the use of examples.  Good examples are as crucial to a writer’s toolbox as a saw is to a carpenter’s toolbox.  Examples should not be broad, but clear and concise.  The example should allow the reader to picture the point that a writer is trying to make.

            A carpenter’s job is to create a sturdy house or building.  A writer’s job is to create a strong piece of writing.  This does not just happen.  Both the carpenter and the writer must turn to his/her tools that will make the difference in the effectiveness in his/her work.

6. Using the run-on sentence that follows, explain how you would correct the grammatical error, applying each of the five methods sited in Chapter 14.
At the family reunion, Ellen enjoyed seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins that she had not seen in years, her teenage children became quickly bored and were glad when it was time to go home.

            Run- on sentences can lessen the effectiveness of a writer’s work.  This can be avoided by understanding the five methods of preventing run-ons.

            The sentence “At the family reunion, Ellen enjoyed seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins that she had not seen in years, her teenage children became quickly bored and were glad when it was time to go home.,” is obviously a run-on sentence.  The first step in correcting the sentence would be to put a period at the end of years and capitalize the word her.  The second way to correct this sentence would be to leave the comma after the word years and to use the conjunction yet after the comma and before the word her.  Another way to get around the problem would be to use a semicolon after the word years and before the word her.  Using a semicolon after the word years and a transitional phrase such as “on the other hand,” would also correct the problem.  The last correction could be made by using the dependent words even though after the before the word her, would also work.

            Run-on sentences interrupt the flow of writing and make the writer seem amateur.  A writer must be very careful to use one of the five methods of correcting this problem in writing.

7. Referring to the assigned reading, `The Brutal Business of Boxing,` by John Head, does the author make more use of single example, sentence-length example, or extended example? Justify your answer.

            The Brutal Business of Boxing by John Head uses extended example more than any other type of example.  He does this with the reference to Mohamed Ali and Jimmy Garcia.

            An extended example is one which takes more than one paragraph to explain.  This is evident in The Brutal Business of Boxing by John Head when Head uses seven paragraphs to present the case that Ali is an example of why boxing should be banned.   He started out explaining how Ali chose to stay in boxing long after he should have retired and that decision allowed him to take many brutal beatings.  He then told of how, as a result of those beatings, Ali now suffers several medical conditions.  He then turns to Garcia as an example of how boxing is a barbaric sport by explaining his death.

            Carr effectively displayed the use of extended example in The Brutal Business of Boxing.  By doing so, his point was thoroughly explained and the reader could understand why he thought the way that he did.

8. Summarize the five types of sentence fragments that were presented in Unit 6 and explain the method/s for correcting each type.

            There are five types of sentence fragments; dependent clause fragments, verbal phrase clauses, missing clause fragments, example and exception clause fragments, and prepositional phrase fragments.

            One way to correct the dependent clause, or subordinate clause fragment would be to simply drop the word that makes the phrase a clause.  Another would be to simply replace the end punctuation with a comma and combine it with the relating sentence.  The verbal clause fragment can be corrected by combining the clause with the next sentence.  The missing clause fragment can simply be corrected by adding the clause. Rules of exceptions are also used as clauses in business and legal documents.  These fragments can also be corrected by using a comma to connect it with another sentence.  Prepositional phrase fragments are also quickly corrected by using a comma to replace the end mark punctuation.

             Sentence fragments are detrimental to good writing and it is important that they be corrected.  If they are not, the writer’s credibility is soon threatened.  It is a mistake that can usually be corrected with a simple switch to a comma rather than an end mark and yet it can make the difference in the writer’s validity.

9. Explain why there are two schools of thought regarding the following question: Is it acceptable to begin a sentence with `but?`

            There are two schools of thought on whether the word “but” can be used to start a sentence.  A writer must know whether his/her audience accepts the trend before he/she should use but to start a sentence.  The best rule to follow is to not do it since many times a writer will not know what his/her audience prefers.

            For centuries the word but was seen only as a conjunction.  The role of a conjunction was to connect two ideas, compound sentences, and clauses.  If a word was a conjunction, and it was not joining two things, then there would be absolutely no need to start a sentence with the word.  The word but can be used in a personal essay, but never in a formal one.

            The word but is the strongest contrast indicator so it is easy to use it excessively.  However, a writer must be careful not to overuse the word, especially at the beginning of a sentence.  A writer must remember that but is a connector and should be used in that capacity.

            While the use of but is now being questioned, it will take several generations to completely turn to the new way of thinking.

10. Describe and explain how definition, classification, and process are methods of showing the limits of a topic, the boarders that define it, and of ordering it into steps, stages, or types.

            Topics can be limited by the borders that such things as definition, classification, and process of method place around it.  This is not a negative idea because it allows the writer to narrow the focus

            Definition of a topic tells the reader exactly what the topic means.  This type should be used in definition essays.  That means that the only purpose of that essay is to define a topic and that is the only thing that the essay should do.  Therefore, the definition of the topic would be the border of the essay.  Classification allows the writer to use his/her categorizing abilities.  This type of essay is used when the purpose of the writer is to answer questions that the reader might have.  Process of method is another way that a border can be placed around a topic and thus narrowing it.  This is done by ordering it into steps or stages.  By doing this, the writer can communicate to the reader how the topic can become useful.  The process method is used in such types of writing as self-help and instruction manuals.

            There are many things in life that should not be narrowed, but that is not true about a topic.  A reader brings his/her experiences to a piece of writing just as the writer does.  If the topic is not narrowed, then misunderstanding will take place.


The Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2008). Purdue University.  Retrieved May 18, 2008


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *