Pre-Editing Workshop Issues: When and why do scholars use other scholars' work in their own articles? A quick look at literary analysis article titles--how to limit your paper's implied scope so that you do not appear to be writing about more than you really are. "How Should Your Hawthorne Paper Begin?"--some sample scholarly article first sentences. "De-texting" your capitalization and punctuation habits. To see a sample of ancient Latin text with no word divisions, lower-case letters, or punctuation, click here.
Based on what I see in your rough drafts, this is what I want each editor/reader to do with the authors paper:
1) Read the paper aloud to the author, full
voice (you may leave the room for another location if this gets too loud). Find
and fix mechanical errors.
2) Help add tighter focus to the paper by showing the author how to narrow the thesis to explain less of the story but to explain it more carefully, with better support. Make the title more accurate to reflect exactly what the paper is talking about. Make the introduction begin that explanation immediately, with no padding or "general information" about the story that readers already would know.
3) Add support from the story that the author might have missed. If the support is really good, include it in the main body of the paper. If it's just additional examples of something the author already has spotted, help the author locate the additional examples in an endnote that begins by saying "Additional examples of this evidence may be found on pages . . . " and fill them in. Make sure the evidence in the main text is properly cited at the end of the sentence that paraphrases it, with the proper page number.
4) Make sure the draft has a Works Cited section. Discuss format and make sure the rest of the MLA format is in place: page numbering, the author's name, course, date, and title on the first page, use of quotation marks for short stories (not italics!), and use of italics for novels and book-length secondary sources, etc.
If you are the author and your editor/reader gives you good advice, please consider giving him/her a complex indebtedness endnote explaining where and how your editor/reader helped you. That will give your reader extra credit.