Formal Paper #1: Making the Personal Public
Format: Typed, double-space, size 12 Times New Roman font.
Sources: Narrative experience and any additional necessary sources.
Citing: We have not talked too much about citation, but make sure it is clear where your information
has come from. If you can cite in MLA format, show me your skills. Any information taken from sources
without explaining where you found the information will be considered plagiarism. Taking information
word-for-word without using quotation markseven if you do acknowledge the source is also considered
Purpose: You are going to use your personal stories and any other necessary pieces of evidence to
explain how your readers should re-think a concept that has, up until now, been familiar to them in only
one way. You would like them to see this concept in a new light, and you will use both narrative and
definition as argument techniques to persuade them to do so.
You can use any of the multiple techniques of definition (dictionary, operational, formal, extended
formal, historical, or from example) to help explain your new definition.
Topic: Your topic must be arguable, specific, manageable and interesting.
The intent of definition is to get your readers to view a traditional topic in a new light, so if anything
feels “obvious” to you, it is probably not worth defining.
We will talk about brainstorming topics together in class, but make sure your topic allows you to use
your personal experience to create a definition argument.
Example of definition arguments that might use narrative:
What it’s like to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish etc.
How society sees you (as a teen mom, as a jock, as a bodybuilder, as a Hispanic person) as
compared to what the truth is.
How your experience of freedom, democracy, education, love, etc. doesn’t align with other
Explain how terms that may apply to you that have a negative connation (depression, addiction,
anxiety, introversion, procrastination, etc.) may actually be positives.
Final Draft Grading Criteria – 100 points
Content (20 points):You have a completed draft that fills the requirements of the assignment. It
includes the techniques of definition and narrative arguments to present a topic in a new light. You have
a clear claim* that is specific, arguable, manageable, and interesting. Your paper is credible, logical,
emotional and complex in ways that would convince your reader to consider your ideas. Your
introduction engages and clearly states the topic, and your conclusion leaves the reader with a final,
insightful thought about your topic. Page count is met.
Narrative (20 points): You include compelling narrative evidence that allows the reader to connect to
your topic in ways they would not have done without seeing the issue from the perspective of your
story. You “show” your reader details that makes the narrative seem truthful and significant.You write
the narrative yourself even if it is the story of someone else.
Definition (20 points): You include definition as an argument technique. You clearly set out (or imply in
ways the reader would easily infer) criteria your audience would accept as reflective of the term you are
defining. If necessary, you argue for the appropriateness of your definition criteria. You connect your
definition strongly back to how it supports your overall claim.
Organization (20 points): The structure of your paper is carefully planned. Each paragraph logically
works off the others in support of the claim. Each paragraph has a topic sentence followed by sufficient
supporting sentences. Each paragraph is about one idea only. There are transitions between ideas and
Style & Mechanics (20 points): Your writing is precise and energetic. You show enthusiasm for the topic
and respect for the reader. You also show respect for opposing points of view while maintaining the
integrity of your argument. Word choice is varied, sophisticated and clearly works to help your audience
understand your point. There is evidence of careful editing and, as a result, the essay contains few
grammatical and/or mechanical errors. You have met the formatting requirements.
*For this paper, your claim can be implied rather than directly stated as that is a characteristic of
narrative. The choice is yours to make based on what would best convey your purpose to your audience.
Regardless, the main point must be made clear as we read through your paper.