Peer Editing for the Biography Essay

To the Editor: Please write your name in the table. Please consider what kind of feedback you would like to receive and try to offer the same quality of feedback to your classmates. Follow the steps carefully, providing attention to detail to help the writer. Don’t limit yourself to this box: feel free to write in the body of the essay! Read the work slowly, putting checks by the more effective parts of it and putting question marks by the parts that are unclear to you.  Circle any spelling or capitalization errors, and note any other mechanical problems by underlining or circling.







GENERAL REACTION:  Write a few sentences addressing your first impressions about it.  Is it well organized?  Has it fulfilled the assignment of focusing on a significant person and his/her influence on the author?  Other impressions?


DOMINANT IMPRESSIONS:  What is the dominant impression of the subject/person?

Has the author included a physical description?  Do we have background information about the subject?  Do we understand the subject’s attitude/philosophy?  Do we hear the subject?


What is the dominant impression of the author? 


INFLUENCE: How has the subject influenced the author? Is the influence clear? Explain.





SHOWING vs. TELLING: Has the author used descriptive language?  Is there specific language that makes the piece feel personal?

Has dialogue been used effectively?  Is the setting clear?  Is the language fresh?



SNAPSHOTS:  Has the author recounted incidents (a series of significant moments) that illustrate the controlling idea?

Are the incidents interesting? Are they clear?

Are they well-developed? Or perhaps should they be condensed?


Are there parts that detract from the purpose? Explain why.  Think about what is redundant or distracting or doesn’t add to the dominant impression.


SUGGESTIONS: Offer the writer at least two specific suggestions that might help him or her improve the essay. Your classmate will want to answer these suggestions in the next draft.  Remember, this is the most helpful part of the peer editing. DO NOT write comments like, “Watch grammar” (too vague) or “I liked it” (compliment—doesn’t help rethink the piece). Be specific.