English 100 Essay #4

Advice of a veteran English teacher

Begin by reading "How to Say Nothing in 500 Words" by Paul McHenry Roberts (available through Blackboard).

Your Writing Task:

Choose one (and only one!) of the following prompts:

  1. In the Roberts essay, how did the imaginary student proceed with writing the essay on college football? Do you regard the author's description of this hypothetical attempt as exaggerated, or does it strike you as true to life? How does it compare with your own attempts at writing essays?
  2. Do you think the "D" allegedly earned by the essay on college football is overly harsh or is it deserved? Justify your answer.
  3. The author advises that you list the arguments that come immediately to mind on a topic and then never use any of them. How do you think the author would reply to the objection that a student might deeply believe in one of the clichéd arguments on the list?
  4. Roberts has taken two risks. One is that students will misread this as an essay opposing football (it's not). The other is that they will miss the humor. Write an essay in which you discuss how this essay is tailored to its target audience. (Of course, to do this, you will have to figure out who the target audience is and what kind of writing will appeal to them.)

Hints for Success:

Mechanical details:

At the top of your paper, indicate which of the four prompts you are responding to. If you just generally chat about (or get angry about) the Roberts article without responding to one of the four prompts above, your paper will not be graded and will be returned with "Is readable but did not respond to the prompt" circled on the grade sheet. (And of course, if you go off to some other topic unrelated to the Roberts article, you will get the same response.)

Length: The equivalent of a three-page paper. A three-page paper should be between 880 and 1060 words long, not counting title, your name, etc.

Format: Standard MLA format. (12-point Times Roman type, double-spaced, 1" margin all around, MLA header.)

Submitting the paper:

Due Dates

  1. Evaluating your opening paragraph: Bring in a printed rough draft of your paper Friday, November 3, 2017
  2. Final copy: Monday, November 6, 2017

This essay is worth 75 points.