TIB Essay (Working Draft – 2pm section)

We spent last class listening to and discussing our various This I Believe examples and tried to determine the features for this particular style of writing. While we agreed that these essays fit a loose category of personal essay, we also noted that their only real common feature these examples shared was their variety — that is, we saw how the genre of the This I Believe essay responded differently to the individual genre / writing situations of their respective authors.

As a quick list, we listened to:

Tarak McLain “Thirty Things I Believe

Anne Donahue “ Some Things to Know About Your Mother

Martha Leathe “Telling Kids The Whole Truth

Eve Birch “The Art of Being a Neighbor

Luis Urrea “ Life is an Act of Literary Creation


For Tuesday’s (9/16) class, then, 

Draft your own “This I Believe” essay. Shoot for two pages (550 words). Remember, a draft is a draft is a draft, and that a draft’s purpose is to be “rough.” Allow the draft to be as crappy and unsatisfying and clunky and clumsy as it needs to be at this early stage in the composing process.

  • Post your working Draft to this (class) TIB Working Draft Page.
  • Post your draft to your own blogsite on your own TIB Working Draft Page.
  • Bring four (4) hardcopies to class.


For Thursday’s (9/18) class

Revise your “This I Believe Essay” based on the feedback and discussion in class.

Prepare a list of three + (3+) questions/concerns about the essay for the class to consider and respond to.

  • Post the list to our section’s list page. (no need for hardcopies)
  • Post Your revised working draft to this (class) TIB Working Draft Page as a reply to your working draft post (i.e. keep the two (2) drafts next to one another)
  • Post your draft to your own blogsite on your own TIB Working Draft Page
  • Bring 2 hardcopies of your revised draft to class.

*** As you revise, bear our ad hoc criteria in mind:

Clarity: Identify / Point out any confusing passages. Are you able to follow the essay’s chain-of-thought / the way it connects beliefs with various anecdotes or experiences?

Persuasiveness:  Are you persuaded to agree with your author, or at least say “Okay, I can respect that idea”? How does your author use evidence and illustrations? Are there vivid details? Do particular passages need to be more vivid? Does the piece need memorable vignettes or striking phrases? Warn the author about potentially cliché thinking or phrasing.

Strength of Introduction / Conclusion: Does the introduction create interest? Does the piece use an engaging “hook” or way into the essay? Similarly, does the conclusion pull the essay’s main points into a powerful , clear wrap-up?

Editing: don’t proof-read the draft for grammar, punctuation, usage, and sentence mechanics, but do identify problem areas where grammar etc. issues distract readers and threaten to derail the essay’s impact and momentum.

Style: Consider how the essay will sound if read aloud. Consider how the essay’s prose moves from idea to idea, sentence to sentence—long phrases and sentences have a way of pulling readers and listeners away from the central point(s) your essay hopes to convey. Point out any sections where your author uses a particularly  powerful turn-of-phrase or where the author creates a strong sense of rhythm.

Most Successful / Least Effective Passage: Summarize a passage in ~ 3 sentences and explain why you think that passage works best / least well.



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