____ The topic is too broad ("my childhood," "our championship season").
____ The event doesn't seem important to the writer.
____ The essay either trivializes a major event or overstates a minor one (this second case can be effective if handled humorously).
Narrative Structure of the Event
____ The event sprawls over too much time or space.
____ The event is not clearly framed for the reader; it should begin or end at another point.
____ The narrative drags in places, or skips over important episodes too quickly.
____ The narrative lacks dramatic tension or suspense.
____ The dialogue is not dramatic and uninteresting; it does not move the action forward.
Anecdotes and Scenes
____ Are either too brief or much too extended.
____ Do not seem to relate well to the event, are poorly chosen or badly framed.
____ The essay lacks telling details to build a dominant impression.
____ The writer has not selected relevant details, or includes too many trivial, irrelevant ones.
____ People do not seem believable in their actions or dialogue.
Significance to the Writer
____ There is no apparent significance.
____ The significance is heavy-handed, inflated, oversimplified, or sentimentalized; the writer moralizes about the event.
____ The significance is trite and overly generalized ("I learned what friendship is all about"; "I learned not to trust anybody").
____ The essay is not very thoughtful in exploring the event's significance; the writer may come off as a hero or a blameless victim.
____ The essay has not given the reader a vivid impression of the narrator.