We have already established that I hate grade, and why I hate it. Here's my second devious approach to grading.
Devious solution #2. I give letter grades based on the quality of the work and use the pluses and minuses to indicate effort or engagement. In courses based on a single final project, such as our senior capstone, the letter grade is based solely on the quality of the final product. Drafts are only graded complete, complete/late, or incomplete. A student who writes an outstanding paper but does not meet the expectations for class participation, peer editing, or on-time drafts gets an A-. The student who writes a very good paper and exceeds the engagement expectations gets a B+. Only in extremely egregious instances have I lowered a letter grade — at most, one or two students per semester.