Tutor profile: Allie B.
How do I effectively organize my essay or research paper?
Once you have organized your paper, you have done most of the work, believe it or not! This is why I strongly advocate for making a detailed outline for every writing assignment, no matter how brief. To make the outline, do the following: 1) Identify your thesis. This should drive the entire paper, and should be clearly asserted in the first paragraph. 2) Identify what you need to PROVE your thesis. In general, try to think of three main ideas or points that you need to drive your thesis. Ideally you have already conducted research or thought through what you think is important about your topic. If you're struggling, consider all of your research: write down all your facts, and begin grouping them by similar ideas. 3) Make each of the main ideas proving your thesis a different paragraph or section of your outline (depending on the length of the paper). 4) Now, begin to organize WITHIN your paragraphs. Use the same concept as step 2! What do you need to really explain your main idea, AND how it relates back to your thesis? Sometimes I even make an outline "point" for each sentence to make sure I am on track organizationally. 5) Make a brief conclusion paragraph outline, which can begin as a "funnel"--clearly re-assert your thesis, summarize the arguments you've made, and leave the reader with something to consider.
How do I identify the key themes in a novel?
If you are struggling to identify themes in a novel, think about working backwards. First, do the very basics of summarizing the plot and characters. Next, examine what you think each character wants. With these two things in mind, look for key patterns in the book. What questions or problems are consistently presenting themselves? Use this to develop a "main idea," just like you would do with a magazine article. It can be helpful to think of the theme of a book as the "thesis" of the book. Now that you have the main idea, consider what lesson, question, or challenge is driving the main idea. This will get you very close to understanding the theme!
What is the most effective way to make an introductory email when seeking a professional connection?
Lead with warmth while maintaining a professional regard, such as addressing individuals by their honorifics, where appropriate. In the first, brief paragraph, identify how you "know" the individual you are addressing--be sure to mention any mutual connections. Next, discuss what interests you about their work, citing specific details that demonstrate you have done your research. Finally, provide 1-2 sentences about your own professional experiences, qualifications, or interests. Most importantly, close with an ask. Would you like to meet them for coffee to discuss a particular issue? Would you like to have a phone conversation to learn more about how they achieved their current role? Be concise, clear, and appreciative of the time they take to read your email.
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