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Tutor profile: Phoebe W.

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Phoebe W.
Trained Writing Tutor
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

Is there one "right" way to write an essay?

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Phoebe W.
Answer:

Definitely not! Everyone has a unique writing process and requires different tools or timelines to produce their best work. However, no matter how you approach them, there are three basic stages behind every good essay: brainstorming, writing, and editing. If you skip one of them, your writing will suffer. Brainstorming gives you the creativity and purpose you need to say something meaningful; an essay is only as good as the idea it communicates. Writing is the content itself--this will likely be the most time-consuming portion of the writing process, and requires basic technical knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. Finally, editing: my favorite stage. Many students skip this one, thinking that once they hit the page limit or the minimum word count they're in the clear. In my experience, editing is what turns a good essay into a great one. Looking back over your prose for clarity, cohesion, flow, and variety allows you to fine-tune every sentence to hit the reader in exactly the way you want it to. Not everyone feels comfortable with each stage--in fact, many hardly feel comfortable with one. In order to become a better writer, it is important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses throughout the writing process, and then plan ahead so you can give yourself the resources and adequate time to make the best of both of them.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

What makes a book "count" as literature?

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Phoebe W.
Answer:

Unlike any given written work, literature is rich with meaning: it can be read and re-read, analyzed and broken down into symbols, themes, and motifs. Oftentimes when people think of literature they think of fat, dense pages full of big words and obscure references. True, some literature is like that, but some of my favorite literature is written for children; it is not the length or the reading level that matters, but rather the depth of thought put into a story or character. Even so, it is always good to question what "counts" as literature. Throughout history, white men have been praised for their literary genius. That's not to imply that their ideas were more complex than those of their counterparts, but rather that systemic evils like racism, sexism, ableism, and the like either prevented the work of women and people of color from being considered, or stopped them from being published at all. Today, many literary prizes come from predominantly Western or English-speaking organizations. It is important to be aware that some books are unfairly devalued because they come from an unfamiliar cultural context or language that is difficult to translate. So, what differentiates a generic book from something that is considered literature? Either a level of richness that lends itself to complex analysis, or a problematic system that promotes the work of some over the work of others.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

What is the most tell-tale mark of a good reader?

Inactive
Phoebe W.
Answer:

A good reader doesn't simply understand a text, but rather engages it. Whether this includes physically annotating and dog-earing pages or simply looking up unfamiliar words in a dictionary, a good reader will approach a book with both critical thinking and curiosity. Personally, I love to write in books--underlining fun verbs, doodling reactions to emotional scenes, and scribbling questions in the margins. Comprehension is highly contextual, and a text exists in at least two different contexts: that of the writer and that of the reader. Therefore a good reader must be willing to seek sufficient knowledge of an author--for example, their intended audience, historical context, and relevant biographical details--and then reflect on their work personally, asking critical questions from the reader's own context. It is through this kind of engagement that a reader can truly internalize various meanings or stories contained within a given text.

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