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NOTE: Before you begin the following assignment, study “Part 3: Developing a Writing Process” in your textbook. Those brief chapters give excellent information on how to write a strong paper. To the point, the suggestions will help you organize and construct your essays.

REQUIREMENTS: The essay should be 2 to 3 typewritten pages, double-spaced, using Modern Language Association (MLA) format (see my sample essay showing the proper MLA style under Essay Examples).  

Remember to check the dates in the Course Calendar for the following steps:

Discussion post closes on the Review Essay Due date.

Prepare draft. Apply information from the “Reviews” Chapter  

DRAFT will be DUE to Canvas.

You will receive one of the papers for peer review ONLY IF YOU HAVE SUBMITTED A PAPER IN THE PEER REVIEW FOLDER before the deadline. Complete the peer review and submit to the peer review folder 

Refine your essay

Study grammar and punctuation links


Following are choices for your review essay. You must choose one topic on which to write. You will also need to research your topic (instructions for research follow the essay assignment). Writing Today offers outlines for you to follow in structuring your review essay. Your choices for a topic follow.

a.Review a movie or a live performance that interests you. Situate the item for readers, offering background information (release dates, titles, directors, actors, running times for films etc.) For a live performance you could use a concert, a play, a dance performance, a symphony, the circus, or other performances (recorded live performances are allowed). For this choice you will find the essays in the “Readings” section of the “Reviews” chapter informative in the amount of detail you should use.  Be careful. If you use someone else’s review, I will recognize the style. Your review must be your own. Use the sample papers to show you what kind of information to include. REMEMBER TO CITE EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT YOUR OWN IDEA. Any quoted material must be followed by the site of origin in parentheses.

If you pick a movie, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Movies follow specific genres (horror, romantic comedy, action, science fiction, documentary etc.). How well does this movie measure up to the genre and other movies in this genre?
  • People have commonly held expectations (criteria) about what makes this kind of movie good or bad. What are these criteria and how well does the movie satisfy them?
  • Your readers are college students, not the broader public. What expectations and interests do they have that might influence whether they would like or dislike the film?
  • Pay attention to how movies use shortcuts and cultural stereotypes to introduce and shape characters. How do movies reinforce or challenge cultural stereotypes?

b.Write a rant about something you despise. You could think of something you have experienced recently that you did not like at all. You could choose a book, a restaurant, a vacation spot, a hotel room, a store, or a job. Be sure that you can supply specific detail to support your claim.

c.  Write a rave about something you love. Use specific details about a book, a restaurant, a vacation spot, a store, or a job as in b above.

Suggest a topic that interests you and write an e-mail (using Mail Tool) to me with some details of why you want to write about this topic and how you will approach it.

REQUIRED IN EITHER OF THE CHOICES: Just as you used the poem in your memoir, you must use some sort of research to help you develop your idea. Perhaps you could use one of the essays in the text to show an example of another writer’s review of a similar topic. Cite your sources as I instruct below. Document the language properly, using the MLA format, and create a Works Cited page following the text’s directions or my example . You should format each entry according to my model (see below) in order to get credit – the mistakes should be minor ones, not the glaring absence of an attempt to imitate the style.

Develop your discussion in detail; use the sample essays in your text as your guide. Use the senses (as you did in your memoir) and develop specific detail (as much detail as you used in your memoir) about your subject. To get at the details in this regard, you may ask yourself questions such as those that I asked of you in your pre-writing for the memoir. The chapter also gives direction in your essay development.

PRE-WRITING (Complete all the steps below before you write your draft. Refine your draft before submitting it to the folder for your peer for review. The better your draft, the better feedback you will receive.)


1.  Decide what point you want to make about the topic and make sure to direct your essay toward that stated point (not your first sentence!).  All detail should contribute to the unity of the essay. Remember, just as in the memoir, your first sentence should grab attention. But you need the statement of the point you wish to make somewhere in the introduction–most likely at the end. Re-read how to write an introduction in Chapter 16: “Organizing and Drafting”

2.Ask yourself why you want to make this point—to show how bad something is? to encourage something? to scare people into or away from something? to inform 

the audience about an important issue? use humor about a bad experience to show your audience some truth? and so forth.

3.Decide who will want to know what you are writing—your audience. Your essay could go into a newspaper column, and the readers would be your audience. Another audience might be a blog, where people might go online to read about a product. You would publish your opinion piece (review essay). Another audience might be people considering visiting this place—in a food magazine, or an entertainment magazine, etc. In that scenario, you are writing for a reason—what is the reason? That question applies in each of the possible audiences. THE STYLE OF YOUR WRITING WILL BE GOVERNED BY THE AUDIENCE THAT YOU CHOOSE. 

4.Select at least three or four major examples to illustrate the point you wish to make. Remember details require facts (named objects and people, dates, named places, etc.) and use of sensory detail.

5.You should question the topic that you have chosen to get a list of exacting detail. See the sample essays in the text to remind yourself about the kind of detail essential to a well written essay. Which example(s) will work best with your audience? Which ones will suit your purpose? Your details must align with your main point – or thesis statement–throughout. 

6.In what order will you present your examples in the body of your paper? Keep your purpose firmly in mind as you plan your organization. Create a rough outline and concept map. Remember, you will have to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how.

7.What will you include in your introduction? Look at Introductions in Chapter 16.  BE THINKING ABOUT YOUR TITLE. IT SHOULD REFLECT THE MAIN POINT YOU WANT TO MAKE. Notice titles on AOL and newspapers to see what experts do to make people want to read their writing. The title needs to invite curiosity about your subject.

8.  Think about your conclusion. Don’t be confused by the term “argument.” Every essay aims to convince the reader of the ideas presented. That makes essays a form of argument.

9.   Once you have completed all the steps above, write your essay from your outline.


Exactly what idea am I trying to present? Have I used examples that best typify that idea? Do my examples illuminate my idea without introducing irrelevant material?

Are my examples interesting? Are they appropriate for the imagined audience?

Have I used an appropriate number of examples? At least three to four (3-4) major ones and perhaps some minor ones? Have I organized my paper effectively? Have I included specific, named objects that engage the senses in my detail?

Once you have considered all of the above, submit your draft for a peer review.

After receiving feedback on the draft, refine your essay. You may want to refer to Chapter 6 again to make sure that you have followed the steps presented there. Correct any weaknesses in structure and consult Purdue OWL for help with your weaknesses in grammar or punctuation.  Also look at my grammar and punctuation links for immediate connection with specific problems.

If you plan to visit the Writing Center for help, visit their site on the college website to sign up for a time once your draft is finished. You can also call any of the campus centers for an appt. Don’t forget that you have an online writing center to help you. Submit online and get a return in about three days–plan ahead.


Chapter 27 in WT has a detailed explanation of the way to cite your sources (you will cite sources in this essay). There is also a research paper sample in that chapter (the MLA form is different from the one I show you in my example, which is your name, professor’s name, course, and the date) containing a model for the Works-Cited page you will need to include with this paper (I give you the same form below). Your Works Cited page stands alone and is the last page of your essay. It should be numbered with your header. The following is an example of the proper MLA format for documentation. Follow the form exactly as it appears below:

Works Cited

Lemire, Christy. “The Lego Movie.”  Richard Johnson-Sheehan and Charles Paine. Writing Today, 3d ed. New York: Longman, 2016. 105-107.


You will need to give in-text, parenthetical citations to show where you have used the words of a published source. First you cite the last name of the author, no comma, and the number of the page in parenthesis after your borrowed information. However, if you refer to his/her last name within your paper itself, then the page number only is listed within the parenthesis. Here’s an example: 

Dave Barry states in his humorous essay “The Lord of the Dance Doesn’t Have Anything on Me” that he would rather “watch a dog catch a Frisbee” than watch a ballet (647).

Otherwise, use the following format:

The essay “The Lord of the Dance Doesn’t Have Anything on Me” uses humor to make a point about … (Barry 647).

Chapter 27 will show you how to cite the information. 

For Web sources, use the author’s last name (if there is one). No page numbers are listed since it is a Web source. If there is no author, then provide a partial title of the Web site or the group that created the site (if available) in parentheses following the borrowed information (stop at the .edu, or .com, or .net–whichever site you have visited).

Example:  After the discussion of dance, the article reads, “No dance has ever been performed that could surpass the New York Ballet Company’s performance” (www.danceinstruction.com).

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