Writing a Character Analysis Essay

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1 Writing a Character Analysis Essay SUGGESTED Learning Strategies: Revisiting Prior Work, Drafting, Revising, Marking the Draft, Self-Editing, Peer-Editing, Sharing and Responding Embedded Assignment Your assignment is to write a character analysis essay about the changes that take place in Stanley Yelnats, many of which occur as a result of his friendship with Hector Zeroni. You should focus more on the internal changes that Stanley experiences; however, you may include external changes that Stanley experiences, as well. Use concrete details from the novel as textual evidence to support your statements. Steps Prewriting 1. Begin by examining the ways in which Stanley has changed. You have already considered some of the many changes in Stanley as you completed Activity 3.25, Evolution of the Caveman. Review your work, along with other activities you have completed, that helped you analyze Stanley s character. Complete the graphic organizer below to help you pinpoint how Stanley has changed. Label each change as internal or external. Concrete Details from the Text, with Page Numbers What does Stanley look like? At the Beginning of Holes By the End of Holes How does he act? What does he do? What do others say about him? What does he say (and think) about himself? Unit 3 Changes in Self-Perception 267

2 Writing a Character Analysis Essay Planning 2. Use the following outline to guide you as you plan the organization and the evidence to include in your essay. More specific directions follow the outline. Keep your purpose in mind as you write this first draft. A. The introduction includes a thesis statement. B. Each body paragraph includes a topic sentence and sentences with supporting details and commentary. Since commentary is your analysis, you may include more commentary than details or examples in your character-analysis essay. Topic Sentence: an idea supporting the thesis. Example/Detail 1 from the text Commentary about Example/Detail 1 analysis of the example Example/Detail 2 from the text Commentary about Example/Detail 2 analysis of the example Example/Detail 3 from the text Commentary about Example/Detail 3 analysis of the example C. Concluding Sentence: a look back at the thesis, a look forward to the future, and/or a reflection on the significance of the thesis idea. 3. Consider language as you begin. Literary analysis essays are most often written in third-person point of view. That is, you do not use I statements in your commentary. For example, if you want to say I think Stanley changed significantly, you simply write your sentence as Stanley changed significantly. Drafting 4. Begin your essay with an introduction that includes a thesis statement. Your thesis statement should clearly state that Stanley Yelnats has experienced some significant changes throughout the course of the novel and indicate what may have contributed to those changes. Remember that one way to begin your introduction is with a quotation from the novel, as you practiced Activity 3.24, Hector Zeroni. Also, make a conscious effort to use verbs in the active voice. You may use passive voice if it contributes to an effect you want to achieve. 5. Begin the first body paragraph with a topic sentence describing Stanley at the beginning of the novel. Use at least three details or examples from the beginning of the novel. Then provide commentary on how the details support your topic sentence. Use transitions to show when or why things happened. 268 SpringBoard English Textual Power Level 1

3 6. Begin your next paragraph with a topic sentence stating how Zero affects Stanley s change. Ask yourself, How does Stanley s friendship with Zero make him a better person? In the rest of this paragraph, provide textual support for your opinion. Use at least three details you have noted in your graphic organizer about the relationship between Stanley and Zero in Activity 3.19, Stanley and Zero. Explain the importance of the details with commentary. Include transitions that show cause and effect. 7. Next, start your last body paragraph with a topic sentence stating how Stanley s character has changed by the end of the novel. Then, complete the paragraph using at least three details and examples from the novel, and include commentary on how these details support your topic sentence. 8. In your conclusion, restate your thesis. You can also think ahead to Stanley s future, or you can connect the book to real life or to a universal idea such as friendship in a way that supports your thesis. Revising Through Self-Assessment 9. What did you do to immediately grab readers attention in your introduction? 10. Write your best description of Stanley, one that uses precise adjectives supported with concrete examples from Holes. 11. Did you leave any descriptions unsupported, or did you use vague descriptors? If so, how will you revise to improve these descriptions? Unit 3 Changes in Self-Perception 269

4 Writing a Character Analysis Essay 12. Summarize your ideas about how Stanley has changed through the course of the novel. 13. Summarize your ideas about how Zero influenced the changes in Stanley. 14. What do you consider to be the strongest part of your essay? Why? 15. Read your character analysis essay softly to yourself, correcting mistakes that you notice along the way. Make sure your essay sounds right. 16. Compare the draft of your essay to the graphic organizers you completed and the outline of an essay provided for you. You might use colored pencils to underline the different parts of the outline to make sure they are all addressed in your essay. You might have changed your mind about some of your ideas once you got started writing, but be sure to check to see if you left out any important elements of a character analysis essay. If any elements are missing or need more development, revise accordingly. 17. Mark your draft as follows to determine where you may still need revision: a. Highlight the following elements in your essay (you may want to use different colors): C Transitions (words or phrases) to help your reader follow your essay. C Descriptive details with precise adjectives and action verbs. if you have a small amount of highlighting, you probably want to revise. b. revisit the Assignment and the Scoring Guide and ask youself how successful you have been in meeting the criteria of the assignment. Make notes, either in the margin or by using sticky notes, of any additional changes you want to make. 270 SpringBoard English Textual Power Level 1

5 18. List the changes you want to implement to improve the final draft of your essay. Revising Through Sharing and Responding 19. Exchange papers with another student. Read your classmate s essay very carefully; then respond to these questions/directions for your classmate. C Was I able to immediately grab your attention in my introduction? Show me the sentence. Do you have any suggestions to make it stronger? C read to me what you consider to be my best description of Stanley, where I used precise adjectives that are supported by ideas with concrete examples from Holes. C Did I leave any descriptions unsupported or use descriptors that were unclear? If so, where? C Summarize my opinion about how Stanley changed throughout the course of the novel. C Did you find yourself lost or confused at any point in my essay? If yes, read to me the confusing sentence(s). C What did you like best about my essay? 20. Read your partner s comments and your self-assessment. Which parts of your character analysis will you improve? What specific improvements will you make? Unit 3 Changes in Self-Perception 271

6 Writing a Character Analysis Essay Editing and Publishing 21. Rewrite your draft, incorporating the changes you identified. 22. Remember to use the Word Wall for synonyms for the word change and to check your use of words as well as their spellings. Use all the other tools available to you to create a draft that is as error-free as possible. 23. To create a publishable draft, you must edit your work to make it as errorfree as possible. Pay particular attention to the capitalization of names and titles, as well as punctuation. Remember to use parallel structure and to punctuate quotations correctly. 24. Following your teacher s directions for formatting and publishing, produce a publishable draft of your character analysis essay. TECHNOLOGY TIP If you are using word processing software, it is easy to add headings that can help guide a reader through your essay. For example, you may want to use standalone headings (such as Editing and Publishing above) or a run-in heading that is often followed by a colon and the first line of the paragraph. 272 SpringBoard English Textual Power Level 1

7 Scoring Guide Scoring Criteria Exemplary Proficient Emerging Ideas The content shows a sophisticated response to the prompt by an insightful analysis of Stanley s character and its relationship to the thematic concept of change. The thesis and topic sentences are supported with embedded quotes, examples, and an in-depth analysis of the claims made. The content shows an adequate response to the prompt by appropriately analyzing Stanley s character and the concept of change. The thesis and topic sentences are supported with relevant examples from the novel and an analysis of the claims made. The content does not appropriately respond to the prompt. A limited analysis of characterization and the concept of change exists or may be replaced by a plot summary. The thesis and topic sentences are limited; the examples from the novel are not appropriate and the analysis is minimal. Organization Use of Language The essay is skillfully designed and contains the following: a strong introduction with an effective hook and thesis body paragraphs with topic sentences and transitions to provide coherence an insightful conclusion that discusses the larger ideas of change expressed in the novel. Word choice is effective and descriptive throughout the essay. Parallel sentence structure is used appropriately. Sentences are complete and varied. Essay is written in thirdperson point of view. It contains no I statements. The essay is structured and contains the following: an introduction with a hook and thesis body paragraphs, topic sentences, and transitions an insightful conclusion. Word choice is appropriate and, at times, descriptive. Parallel sentence structure is used. Sentences are complete. Most of the essay is written in third-person point of view. It avoids I statements. The essay is not structured and is missing one or more of the following: an introduction with a hook and thesis body paragraphs, topic sentences, and transitions an effective conclusion. Word choice is forced, vague, and/or repetitive. It detracts from the paper. Parallel sentence structure is not used. A significant number of incomplete sentences impact the fluency of the writing. Essay does not maintain third-person point of view and contains I statements. Unit 3 Changes in Self-Perception 273

8 Writing a Character Analysis Essay Scoring Guide Scoring Criteria Exemplary Proficient Emerging Conventions Direct quotations are punctuated and formatted properly. Direct quotations may contain minor punctuation or formatting errors. Direct quotations contain many punctuation or formatting errors. Writing contains few or no errors in spelling, punctuation, or capitalization. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization mistakes do not detract from the essay. Spelling, punctuation, or capitalization mistakes detract from meaning and/ or readability. Evidence of Writing Process Extensive evidence reflects the various stages of the writing process. Evidence reflects the various stages of the writing process. Little or no evidence reflects the stages of the writing process. 274 SpringBoard English Textual Power Level 1

9 Portfolio Activity: Using Concrete Details Activity 3.26 SUGGESTED Learning Strategies: Marking the Text, Rereading, Revising, Revisiting Prior Work 1. In this unit, you and your classmates have expanded your understanding of words, many of which are displayed on the Word Wall. From that list, choose words that you would like to be sure to use in your writing and speech and add these keeper words to your Vocabulary Notebook. 2. In this unit, you practiced using concrete details or examples from a text and elaborated on them with commentary. Go back through your Working Folder and your Portfolio for Units 1 3 and find three pieces in which you wrote about a text that you had read or viewed. 3. Use a highlighter to mark the concrete details you provided as textual support for your ideas. 4. Select one of the three pieces that would best benefit from revision, and revise it by adding details, examples, and commentary. 5. Place your revised work in your Working Folder. Unit 3 Changes in Self-Perception 275

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