Assignment 1: Improving By Analyzing

Throughout our lives as students, we all write stuff: compositions, essays, summaries, personal statements, et cetera. Consequently, we have a lot of writing experiences. Those experiences not only have great impacts on our writing styles and techniques, but also help us become more and more proficient in writing. More importantly, analyzing the previous writing pieces after some time has passed is even more beneficial for our development as writers because it offers the opportunity to find our weaknesses and strengths, so that we can have a better understanding of our achievement as writers and what aspects still need to be improved.

As for me, one representative writing experience was writing a college application essay. In fact, this piece of writing was my personal statement for the application to the University of California. After some time has passed, I still think this piece of writing  is a good demonstration of my personal quality. It describes an important life experience for me, which is my inchoate basketball life. Also, it illustrates how this experience defines me as a confident and passionate individual.

Analyzing our writing pieces after some time has passed is essential for us to improve in writing. For this writing piece of mine, the strengths of it is its interesting opening sentences and specific description of my experience.  At the very beginning of the essay,  I used a ‘hook’ in order to attract the interest of audiences, which means that I started the whole essay with an intense basketball game:  “A perfect three pointer! I looked around the court, and I saw all my teammates were all cheering for me. In addition, I saw my coach was nodding with smile on his face. I knew I made it.” I described an exciting and significant moment in my life but I did not point out what I really achieved to create suspense. Actually this is a common strategy in storytelling processes. For example, in the short piece of Stephen King’s Write or Die, he begins his narrative with a scene of being invited to the principal’s office. This method is extremely useful for catching reader’s attention. Other than using a “hook,”I provided plenty of detailed information in the piece of writing, which makes the whole story interesting and substantial. At the same time, the depiction of the basketball game was so vivid that it can bring audiences into the game as well. For instance, phrases like “a perfect swish” and “ thunder-like applause”  can make the basketball game become alive. What is more, the implement of  the description of my mental activities in the game manifested my personality and it indicated the central idea of my personal statement.

On the other hand, this piece of writing does have some weaknesses.  A major one is that there is no well-focused thesis statement near the beginning. After the “hook,” I started discussing my basketball dream and my frustrations about basketball directly rather than introducing my essay with a thesis statement, so it might be hard for my audience to follow my thinking. Besides, my transition between sentences are ineffective.  Here is one particular example: “ I was appointed only the backup for the first two rounds. Staring at the exciting competition, I was proud of my teammates’ performance;” Those two sentences in my original text are related in terms of content, but they are not connected smoothly. Consequently, readers might feel my essay bounce from one sentence to another sentence without any efficient connection.  As a result, the general flow of the whole essay is unsatisfactory.

The experience of writing this essay does influence the style in which I write. The prompt of this personal statement was to discuss a quality of mine and illustrate the reasons this quality makes me proud and how it relates to the person I am. The main purpose was to demonstrate my confidence and passion by telling a story about myself. When I wrote this piece of writing, I racked my brain to figure out a proper story. I wrote lots of drafts but none of them were good enough. Reluctantly, I revised them over and over again. After the contents of the story were finalized, I started working on the process of making my story a vivid and interesting one. To do this,  I needed to use accurate verbs and adjectives to describe my story. However, some of those vocabulary words do require a unique and unfamiliar use, so I had to look them up in a dictionary on a regular basis in order to use them correctly. After that, I spent most of my time on editing my introduction and conclusion to make sure they connect smoothly with my body paragraphs.

In fact, it took me nearly a month to finish the whole project. I felt this whole writing experience was exhausting and extremely tough. Nevertheless, I learned that it is impossible to find a perfect solution for every prompt. Maybe we could just write whatever is on our minds, then revise and shape ceaselessly, until we are satisfied.  Looking back, I feel like this writing experience was very useful. It helped me develop my own way to reflect on a prompt. Moreover, I learned lots of vocabulary words and various sentence structures, which all helped me get more prepared for college writing.

Obviously it is always useful to look back at my pieces of writing after some time has passed to see what goals I have achieved and what other facets still need to be improved. This assignment offers the opportunity to reflect upon my own previous writings. According to my analysis, I am not strong in constructing appropriate thesis statements and connecting my sentences effectively. Therefore, my immediate goals for growth as a writer are to grasp the means of connecting sentences efficiently, and improve my general writing style as well.

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