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“This I Believe” Name __________________________________ Personal Essay Rough Draft Checklist Be sure your belief is something you care strongly about and can elaborate on. Readers want to know what you know, feel what you feel, and understand exactly where you’re coming from. Use details to draw the reader in. Be specific! Avoid using abstract expressions and phrases like “the best day of my life” or “I’d never known greater sadness” to describe emotions of love or loss. Make the emotions real by noting the support and details that draw the reader into your experience. Use details that appeal to each of the reader’s senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. Make sure your reader can summarize the MAIN IDEA that you BELIEVE. They should not have to hunt for it. When concluding, leave your reader satisfied without using summary statements like “What I am trying to say is…” or “What I really mean is…” Sometimes a brief echo of your lead is the most satisfying clincher to bring a personal essay full circle. (See “Tomorrow is a Better Day” for an example of a conclusion echoing the lead.) Be real. Your essay need not be heart-warming– or gut-wrenching– it can even be funny, but it should be real. Make sure your essay describes how you arrived at your belief. Be brief. Although there is no length requirement for this essay, you may use 350-500 words as your suggested guideline. (In Microsoft Word, use the “Word Count” function under “Tools”.) Be personal. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. Read your essay out loud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and support that best represent your belief and the way you speak. Your essay should include the appropriate header, have a title, be double spaced and typed in 12 point Times New Roman compatible font, and include the evaluation/rubric.
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