2. How to Write a Cover Letter
In your cover letter, you should introduce your writing to
your reader; this reader is mainly me, but it might help you
to envision your peers and other instructors as possible
readers as well. What might I (or an outside reader) need to
know in order to understand this work you have given
me, the process you have used, and the growth and
improvement as a writer you have experienced? Keep in
mind that I have not been witness to your entire process of
writing; most of your writing took place with your peers and
on your own. Therefore, in this introduction, you have the
chance to make me a witness, in a more full and balanced
way, to your writing process and the finished essay. Here is
your chance to help me to read the “whole” of your work
and understand the effort and thought you put into it.
3. Your letter should communicate that which I could
not possibly have learned about your writing of this
essay. At the same time, your letter should remind me
of strategies and techniques we have discussed in
class and worked on together, such as ways in which
you have responded to the readings, the peer
review, class discussions, and course materials. In your
letter, you should let me know the strengths and
weaknesses that you see in your writing. Honesty is
important here. Instead of trying to make an
argument for a particular grade or way of reading
your writing, you should be engaging in a critical way
with your own writing and writing process. Writing is
both pleasure and struggle, and an ideal cover letter
will reflect both of these aspects of writing.
4. You have some flexibility in the way you write this
letter, but some aspects you might want to include
are the following:
1. Discuss what you did best in this essay and why you think so.
2. Detail the revisions you’ve made and the improvements and
changes that you want your reader(s) to notice
3. Outline the process.
4. Demonstrate what this essay illustrates about you as a
writer, student, researcher, or critical thinker
5. Acknowledge your weaknesses but show how you’ve
worked to overcome them
6. Acknowledge the reader-respondents (including
peers, friends outside of the class, etc.) who have influenced
your writing here
7. Reflect on what you’ve learned about writing, reading, and
the topic of this paper
that could be
said here, but
you also need to
be concise. So
you’ll have to
think about what
you most want to
me about these Guidelines: The cover letter
should be about one-half
papers. single-spaced page in
7. Comma splice or fused sentence
A comma splice occurs when only a comma
separates clauses that could each stand alone as a
The fused sentence is a type of run-on sentence. It is
nearly the same error as the comma splice, but
without the comma.
When two independent clauses are next to each
other, you have only two choices: you can either
join them, or you can separate them.
8. To join two independent clauses
You must use a coordinating
conjunctions. The coordinating
for, and, but, or, nor, yet, and so. You can
remember them by combining their first
letters into the pseudoword ”fanboys."
9. To separate two independent
youmust use some form of end-stop
punctuation. Here are all of your possible
choices: the period [.], the exclamation
point [!], the question mark [?], and the
semicolon [;]. (Remember, a semicolon is
a weak period, not a strong comma.
10. Ways to correct the comma splice:
Comma Splice: I got up late this morning, I didn't have time
Fused Sentence: I got up late this morning I didn’t have time
I got up late this morning. I didn't have time for breakfast.
I got up late this morning; I didn't have time for breakfast.
I got up late this morning, so I didn't have time for breakfast.
I got up late this morning, and I didn't have time for
Notice that in the latter two corrections, the coordinating
conjunction joining the two independent clauses is
preceded (not followed) by a comma.
11. A DIFFERENT STRATEGY:
If you choose to turn one of the clauses
into a subordinate (dependent)
clause, then you can use just the comma
between the two clauses:
Because I got up late this morning, I didn't
have time for breakfast.
12. Sentence Fragment
A sentence fragment is part of a sentence
that is written and punctuated as if it were
a complete sentence.
A fragment may lack a subject, a
complete verb, or both. Fragments may
also begin with a subordinating word (such
as “because”) that makes the fragment
depend on another sentence for its
meaning. Reading your draft out
loud, backwards, sentence by
sentence, will help you spot sentence
13. Fixing Subordinate Clause
When you have a subordinate clause
fragment, removing one thing—the subordinate
conjunction—will give you the necessary main
clause. Look at this fragment:
Because Chase caught the eye of the
beautiful brunette in algebra.
Removing because makes the thought
complete. Chase is the subject, caught the
verb. Now you have a sentence!
Chase caught the eye of the beautiful
brunette in algebra.
14. If,however, you need the subordinate conjunction
because of the meaning it provides, then you must
fix the fragment by connecting it. You can put it
before the main clause or after it.
Because Chase caught the eye of the beautiful
brunette in algebra, he smiled wildly.
John was jealous because Chase caught the eye
of the beautiful brunette in algebra.
15. Fixing Afterthought Fragments
You can fix an afterthought fragment one
of two ways. One option is to insert the
missing subject and verb so that you have
a main clause. This option works best
when you have for example and for
instance as the transitions beginning the
16. The simple addition of a subject and verb
will fix the problem:
Forexample, leaky pens, candy
wrappers, dollar bills, and
Forexample, the desk drawer
contained leaky pens, candy
wrappers, dollar bills, and
17. Or you can attach the afterthought
fragment to the end of a main
clause. This option works best when
the fragment begins with
except, excluding, including, like
and such as.
John has many unsafe habits, such
as leaving the stove on and teasing
18. Review of Common Errors
A comma splice: occurs when only a comma
separates clauses that could each stand alone as
The fused sentence: a type of run-on sentence. It
is nearly the same error as the comma splice, but
without the comma.
Sentence Fragment: part of a sentence that is
written and punctuated as if it were a
19. Check for all seven
Make sure your
thesis statement is
Check your MLA
Edit for the following
Get out your
Let’s revise and edit
Comma Splice or
Revise your essay one more time.
Edit for the four “common errors” we
practiced in class this week
Revise and Edit your cover letter
Read: “The Uses of Enchantment” and
“Hansel and Gretel” Vocabulary Check
Blog: Questions to Guide Your Reading pp
142-143; Discussion questions pp 168. I will
post a space for answers online.