The Monthly Nonfiction Approach Paper Assignment

The Approach Paper MLA Formatting Requirements:

  • LENGTH – 300-350 typed words
  • SPACING – Double Spaced
  • FONT – Times New Roman
  • FONT SIZE – 12 pt


  1. MLA Style Heading: Your Full Name, The Date, The Class, The Title, The Author’s Name, The Genre. If this is to be POSTED on a website, incorporate this information into Section 2, but exclude your full name, the date, the class.
  2. Summary Paragraph: A four or five sentence paragraph which explains the ENTIRE nonfiction using as much detail as you can manage. To encourage your writing style, you may use one semi-colon and 1 colon in this paragraph, and every sentence must start out in a different way. This helps make your writing more interesting to read. This is often the most difficult section of the approach paper to write. It will take some time to condense the contents of your work of nonfiction into these few sentences which all start differently.
  3. Topic Focus Descriptions: This is a good time to think about vivid vocabulary words we use in class; check the dictionary, thesaurus. If you use a particular word to describe one individual, you may not use that same word to describe another individual. You have to do #1 OR #2 for this section.
    1. If this is nonfiction on an individual person, then . . .
      1. For this individual person, supply: Individual’s Name; Four or Five words which describe the individual distinctly.
      2. For the time period in which this individual exists (or existed), supply: Four or Five words which describe the time period distinctly.
    2. If this is nonfiction on a specific place, thing, era or time period, then  . . .
      1. Choose 3 individuals involved with this time period/event, and for each individual, supply the individual’s name; 4 or 5 words which describe the individual distinctly.
  4. Key Passage (MLA Cited): Choose the most important passage in the work of nonfiction. Type it up word-for-word in the approach paper. Make sure to identify the speakers.
  5. Key Passage Explanation (MLA Cited): In a fully-developed paragraph, explain why your chosen passage is important to understanding the broad topic focus of your work of nonfiction. In your explanation, make sure you integrate quotes (actual words or phrases from the key passage and other parts of the source material) to strengthen your explanation. Often, this selected passage will offer clues to the themes. Explain any mentioned or inferred themes connected to the key passage.
  6. Your Opinion: In two to three paragraphs, write about what you liked/disliked most OR least about this topic as it was covered. This can be about the author’s style, individuals, key events, themes, settings, literary devices, etc. Be sure to explain by using details (quotations) to support your response. Tell why you would or would not recommend this to someone.
  7. Discussion/Essay Questions: Write three questions on UNIVERSAL THEMES or BIG IDEAS that a teacher might ask you because of the text either in class or for an essay. These questions should be high level and thought-provoking. They almost always take more than one line to type because (1) they ask the reader to combine more than one idea (plot & the theme of love lost, conflict and the theme of old age and dying, etc.), AND (2) they always require the person questioned to take an idea OUT of the work of nonfiction and APPLY it to their own life. Just writing these types of questions helps you to anticipate what questions might be asked of you in class discussions or on a test and encourages you to think more insightfully about life.

Due Dates occur all the time. I will track your reading. Approach Papers are due 3 days after you finish a work of nonfiction. Monthly grades close on the last school day of each month.

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