Criteria for Revising Memoirs

PANYC students read short memoirs, then made the following lists of
what made these pieces of writing good on the outside and on the inside.


On the outside, we see...

On the inside, we see...

  • sentences and paragraphs
  • titles (sometimes underlined)
  • capital letters
  • punctuation:  .  ,  !  '  ?  :  "   "
  • italicized words, bold font
  • dialogue
  • dates
  • characters
  • indents
  • pictures
  • foreign words
  • page numbers
  • author's name


  • foreign words
  • references to music
  • action sounds, like "push" or "pull"
  • descriptions of characters, emotions, and places
  • examples
  • comparisons and contrasts
  • personal experience
  • details about characters, setting, emotions, and feelings
  • humor
  • a memory at the beginning and at the end
  • quotes at the beginning
  • attitude
  • dialogue
  • talk about beliefs
  • play with words (for example: words are repeated)
  • feelings and emotions conveyed through dialogue
  • snapshots
  • onomatopoeia (words that are what they sound like: buzz, hiss)
  • real life
  • first person

Guidelines for Giving a Writer Feedback

Active Listening



  • make suggestions for changes
  • say what you liked
  • say what you did not like
  • ask questions about what was unclear to you
  • tell your own stories, thoughts...
  • take notes while listening
  • use your own words to "say back" the main points of the writing
  • ask if your summaries are correct
  • say what you DO understand, especially when something is unclear to you
  • encourage the writer to talk more




  • use your own words
  • add to the writer's words
  • explain why you chose the phrases you did
  • while listening, write down sentences, words, phrases that stand out to you (positive or negative).
  • repeat back to the writer exactly the words sentences and phrases that you liked hearing.
  • repeat what you liked even if someone else is has already chosen the same words, sentences, paragraphs.

"Inside" Criteria Checking



  • say what you liked
  • say what you did not like
  • make general statements at all
  • keep notes on which parts seem to connect to the criteria
  • begin by listing those things that the writer did do well--according to the "inside" criteria.
  • make suggestions by asking questions--based on the "inside" criteria. For example: Have you considered...  What if you...

Created by Paul Allison [email protected] and Carol Tureski [email protected] Last Updated: November 1, 2000