Writing Secrets from a Bay Area English Tutor

Do you want your student to become an excellent, college level, essay writer?  Each student has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. For the past five years I have been working with students to improve their writing. I have learned many interesting lessons along the way and I would like to share some of those lessons with you today.

The number one element necessary to write successfully is motivation. Working with students on improving their writing involves making positive changes to their attitudes and expectations about the writing process itself. Successful writers have the inner and subconscious expectations that writing is fun, enjoyable, creative, insightful, and easy. When students learn to acquire a positive set of beliefs and expectations about the writing process their motivational issues fade away.

However, the number one secret to writing successfully is simply: know your audience. If you understand the expectations and beliefs of your audience then you have far more influence as a writer than if you do not. Knowing a single piece of information alone can give a student a huge advantage.

Some teachers tend to desire a narrow literary analysis whereas others will accept and appreciate a context expanding analysis. Knowing your audience means understanding their internal biases, beliefs, and leniencies -- essentially how they perceive the world around them.

Each teacher has distinct expectations about writing and a certain level of leniency in terms of acceptability of content and interpretation of context. Teachers want to be impressed; they want to know that their students are thinking above and beyond what is required for the class. A student that is motivated and passionate about their writing will be able to go above and beyond the requirements of their coursework with ease. Unfortunately, most students are never taught exactly how to do this; a conclusion that expands the context of the paper, using un-required outside sources, and writing with a strong "internal poetry" are just a few examples of how to impress your teacher.

Additionally, I can absolutely guarantee that the way your son or daughter acts and participates in class directly shapes the perceptions and expectations their teacher has of them. Everything they write and say in class should be at the level of their highest intellectual inquiry and commitment to inner integrity.

The last secret I will discuss in this article is about writing literary commentary rather than plot summary. Many students need help learning to write intelligent literary commentary in a way that integrates their own personal perspectives. Teachers want to know what the student thinks from an intelligent and insightful perspective; teaching students how to understand and analyze tone, themes, symbolism, metaphors, style, and structure is the antidote to the dreaded plot summary problem.

Every student deserves an excellent one-on-one education in writing.