To accomplished writers, this Tampa English Tutor tip is second nature. However, this week, I had a tutoring session with a beginning writer working on an essay written in response to a prompt.
While I don’t recall the particulars of the prompt, it had two parts and the answer to the first part was required before the second part could be answered.
Photo by Mrs. Logic of the barter bookshop in the old Alnwick rail station. See more of Mrs. Logic's photos on Flickr. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Only license. Looks like a cozy spot to do some Tampa English tutoring!
When we sat down to review this student’s paper, she had started reasonably well, but then wandered from the first part of the prompt into a personal reaction to the story that paper was about.
In certain cases, her observations could have been used to make a point that would have answered a portion of the prompt, but she had lost sight of the key parts of the prompt she was trying to address.
Together we divided the prompt into two parts and turned each question into a statement that took a clear position based upon this student’s reading of the work. She then reviewed her essay and could see that much of the beginning of her essay applied to the second part of the question. She also recognized that a good portion of her first draft was not answering any part of the prompt.
It’s basic, but it’s well worth doing to break down a writing prompt into its parts and then start by turning the question into a strong statement of position if the prompt is a persuasive one.
She had written her draft on the eve of the due date, which did not give her the time to create a truly outstanding piece of writing, but revising it once made it much stronger and probably turned a D or an F into at least a C or a B.
By creating statements that took a clear position on both parts of the prompt, she was able to see what was relevant and what could be cut. We then discussed the evidence from the work and made revisions and additions that used her best points first and last where they would stay with the reader.
It’s easy to wander from the issue when you are writing, so always re-read your finished work and ask yourself: “Have I answered all the parts of the prompt?” Sometimes the answer will make revision of your paper much simpler.
If you are a college or high school student who would like to improve your writing, contact Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson at 813.787.8959 for one-on-one essay writing help.
Posted by Tampa English Tutor at 5/19/2009 10:33 PM