Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Editing Your Literacy Narrative

Edditing Editing

The processes of revising and editing aren’t the same. As the authors of A Writer’s Reference note, when you revise “you focus on clarity and effectiveness; when you edit, you check for correctness” (29). 

On Monday, I asked you to focus on the big picture, on the “clarity and effectiveness” (29) of your literacy narrative. Today, as you begin the editing process, I ask that you focus on finding and correcting errors. As an exercise in that process, we will examine the You’ve Got to . . . assignment below. 

You’ve Got to . . .

In the first four installments in our You’ve Got to . . . series, we examined a novel (The Hate U Give), a video game (Counter Strike: Global Offensive), a song (“Keep the Wolves Away”), and a TV show (Community). For our fifth installment, I offer an assignment devoted to the film Step Brothers. As you read it, make note of any corrections needed.


One film “you’ve got to” see is Step Brothers. Step Brothers is a film that stars comedians Will Ferrell and John Reilly, who play 2 sons that are forced into a family when their divorced parents marry each other. At first, they hate each other with a passion, which leads to hilarious scenes of them fighting in a weird, dorky way. As they begin to live with each other though, they begin to learn that they just found their own best friend in each other (at the age of 40). They play video games together, watch movies and TV shows, and bond in their own dorkish way. This is, until their stepdad and stepmom get a divorce, causing them to separate.

This movie is so funny to me because I love Will Ferrell and I love the type of humor in this movie. Although it is very stupid and childish humor, it is right up my alley, and the jokes make in the movie are very similar to ones that I would make around my friends. I spent the entire movie laughing out loud, and I highly suggest watching this film.

YGT Notes: Untitled

  • In the first sentence, the phrase “you’ve got to” should not be enclosed in quotation marks. It’s the title of the assignment, but the writer simply uses it as a common phrase.
  • In MLA style, titles of films are italicized. (See A Writer’s Reference, page 301.)
  • On first reference, Reilly’s full screen name, John C. Reilly, should appear. The middle initial “C” needs to be added.
  • Another MLA note: The numbers one hundred and below and large round numbers (such as fifteen million) are spelled out rather than expressed as figures. 2 should be two; 40 should be forty. (See A Writer’s Reference, page 301.)
  • In the second line, “sons that” should be “sons who.” In formal writing, the relative pronoun “who,” not “that,” should be used to refer to people. (See A Writer’s Reference, page 150.)
  • The statement at the end of the second line and the beginning of the third should be corrected to read something like this: when Brennan Huff’s mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), marries Dale Doback’s father, Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins), . . . .


A Writer’s Reference presents excellent advice on proofreading, which I am including verbatim below.

“Proofreading is a special kind of reading: a slow methodical search for misspellings, typographical mistakes, and missing words or word endings. Such errors can be difficult to spot in your own work because you may read what you intended to write, not what is actually on the page. To fight this tendency, try one or more of the following tips.

Proofreading Tips

  • Remove distractions and allow yourself ten to fifteen minutes of pure concentration–without your cell phone.
  • Proofread out loud, articulating each word as it is actually written.
  • Proofread your sentences in reverse order.
  • Proofread hard copy pages; mistakes can be difficult to catch on-screen.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on spell checkers and grammar checkers. Before automatically accepting their changes, consider accuracy and appropriateness.
  • Ask a volunteer (a friend, roommate, or co-worker) to proofread after you. A second reader may catch something that you didn’t.” (31)

Grammar, Punctuation and Mechanics, and Word Choice

The items listed below are the ones that I noted most often in your drafts. Review the ones that are trouble spots for you. 

  • active verbs/voice, 153
  • apostrophes, 275-78
  • capitalization, 293-96
  • colons and semicolons, 271-73
  • commas, 259-71
  • end punctuation, 283-84
  • hyphens, 291-92
  • italics for titles, 301
  • lay, lie, 182-83
  • like, as, 146
  • numbers expressed as words, 299
  • paragraph focus
  • paragraph length, 53-54
  • pronoun case, 196-97
  • reason why, 148
  • reflexive pronouns, 306
  • sentence fragments, 207-13
  • standard idioms, 166
  • than, then, 149
  • that, which, 149
  • there, their, they’re, 149
  • to, too, two, 149
  • verb agreement with subjects, 171-79
  • who’s, whose, 150
  • who, which, that, 150

Concluding Your Literacy Narrative

What word, idea, or image in the first paragraph might you return to in the final paragraph? The authors of A Writer’s Reference recommend bringing readers full circle with that strategy (Hacker and Somers 18).

Avoid concluding your narrative with a platitude: a phrase or sentence that’s been uttered so often that it comes across as neither interesting nor thoughtful. For example: It made me the person I am today. Who is that person? Write who that is, rather than the platitude, which tells readers nothing.

Also avoid the phrases “in conclusion,” “to conclude,” “in summary,” and “to sum up.” These can be useful, even welcome, in oral presentations. But readers can see, on the page or the screen, when a short essay is about to end.

MLA Style

The MS Word file that you will submit to Moodle should comply with the format guidelines for MLA (Modern Language Association) manuscripts. A Writer’s Reference includes a sample MLA paper (see pages 427-432). You can use the MS Word file posted in Moodle as a template. Your literacy narrative will not include a works cited list unless you quote or paraphrase a source.

Remember that in addition to submitting your revision to Moodle, you will publish it as a post on your WordPress blog. Your blog post will omit the first-page information included in your file submitted to Moodle (your name, course, section, instructor’s name, and date). You will include in your blog post an image that documents some part of your writing process away from the screen, such as a photo of your reading notes or a page of your handwritten draft.

Writing Help

If you would like for someone to review your literacy narrative before you submit it, look to the Center for Academic Engagement, which offers a variety of options:

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