Rules for Writing Essays
From Superkids by Jean Marzollo - Illustrations by Irene Trivas

Many of the activities on these pages may require adult supervision.
Be sure to tell a grown-up about what you're planning and ask for permission before getting started.

Some do's and dont's.


1. Be Yourself

No matter what you are writing - a letter, a school paper, or a story - write the way you speak. Don't suddenly pretend you are a college professor who uses big words and long sentences. You're not a teacher, you're not the school principal, you're you. So write what's in your head and nobody else's.

Sounds Phony:

It can surely be understood that people, whoever they may be in this vast
world of ours, need to communicate in order to coexist peacefully.


I think people must communicate if they want to be friends.


2. Don't Say "I Think" Unless It's Necessary

Take the "better" example above and make it "best" by eliminating the "I think" part at the beginning. After all, everything you write is what you think.


People must communicate if they want to be friends.


3. Details Are More Interesting Than Generalities

If you say in your writing that you saw a beautiful horse, all the reader can imagine is horse, not dog. The reader doesn't know the color, size, markings, or temperament of the horse. If the horse is important in the piece you are writing, describe it. Bring it into focus for your reader.


I saw a beautiful horse yesterday.


Yesterday I saw a huge black stallion pacing back
and forth inside his stall.


4. Save the Best Word for Last

Take the "better" example in number 3 and change the order of the words around so that the reader is surprised to find out what's in the stall.


Pacing back and forth inside the stall was a huge black stallion.


5. Less Is More

If you have said all you have to say and backed it up with adequate details and examples, stop. Don't start saying it all over again just to make your piece longer.

6. Write an Ending

If you can't think how to end a piece, try this: start the last paragraph, "In conclusion" or "To sum up what I have said, I think .... " Then, after you have written the ending, go back and cross out the words, "In conclusion" or
"To sum up what I have said, I think." Those words were just a way to get you going. They are not necessary for the reader, who expects an ending and can see that the piece is soon to be over.


7. Capitalize the First Word of Each Sentence and Put a Period at the End.


there was a big hole in front of us it seemed to appear out of nowhere


There was a big hole in front of us. It seemed to appear out of nowhere.

The reason you capitalize the first word in a sentence is to tell the reader when a new sentence is starting.
The reason you end a sentence with a period is to tell when it ends.


8. Basically, Commas Are Used to Indicate Pauses.


The snake was small black and fast.


The snake was small, black, and fast.

Read the snake sentence aloud. Do you hear how your voice naturally pauses after the word "small?" That's why a comma is needed there. People disagree about the need for the comma before the word "and." Some people say the word "and" is enough to tell the reader to pause and that adding a comma is unnecessary.


9. Read Your Piece Aloud to Yourself

Does it make sense? Does it flow smoothly? Change sentences that are confusing or not to the point.
Take out words that sound awkward. Replace them with something simple or nothing at all. Most of all, ask yourself: Does the piece sound like you? Does it feel comfortable? If it does, good. You're almost finished.


10. Check All Spelling and Punctuation; Then, Copy Your Writing Over Neatly

Your readers want to find out what you are thinking. They do not want to stumble over misspelled words and messy writing, so give them something clean and neat to read. Put a title at the top, if one is called for. Leave neat, straight margins on each side. Sign your name proudly at the end. If you make a mistake copying over your paper, don't panic. You can either erase it with an ink eraser, paint over it with white correction fluid, or cover it up with self-adhesive correction tape. You can buy correction fluid and correction tape in stationery, office and discount stores. They are inexpensive. Follow the directions on the package.


Click here for LETTERS

Click here for MORE IDEAS!


Based on the book SUPERKIDS: Creative Learning Activities for Children 5-15
Text © Jean Marzollo, Illustrations © Irene Trivas

  Jean's 100+ Books | Bio | Gallery | Legal  

Copyright © Jean Marzollo. All rights reserved.