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Tutor profile: Sydney V.

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Sydney V.
English MA Graduate, Writing Consultant, Editor
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

What is the importance of the Oxford Comma?

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Sydney V.
Answer:

The Oxford Comma is a point of grammar that helps to make a sentence more clear and less ambiguous. This comma is the final comma used before a conjunction in a list of three or more items, and it is used in a direct address. The omission of the Oxford Comma can create confusion and miscommunication within a sentence, and the effects could be more complicated than it sounds. To use a well-known example: Let's eat Grandma. Let's eat, Grandma. The exclusion of the Oxford Comma here has funny, but drastically different, results for this sentence. The second sentence is a direct address to Grandma about mealtime, but the first sentence implies that the family is going to have Grandma as their meal. The inclusion of a single comma drastically changes the meaning of the sentence. While the previous example was quite humorous, the Oxford Comma could have serious miscommunications in political, legal, and other types of writing. Let's look at another example: Mr. Man recently died, and his lawyer gathered up his three children together to read out the will. Mr. Man intended for his fortune of $30,000 to be distributed evenly across his three children, leaving each child with $10,000. However, the clause was written as follows... Child I, Child 2 and Child 3 will receive $30,000. Because of the omission of the Oxford Comma, there is a miscommunication now in the distribution. No Oxford Comma means Child 1 is one group, but Child 2 and Child 3 are grouped together because they are one unit without the comma to separate them. As a result, someone could award Child 1 $15,000 and then Child 2 and Child 3 would have to split the remaining $15,000 between the two of them. If the will was written as "Child 1, Child 2, and Child 3 will receive $30,000," then it is more clear that each child is intended to receive an equal amount of the fortune.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

What is the Hero's Journey?

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Sydney V.
Answer:

In narratology, the Hero's Journey is a story template that chronicles the personal storyline of the hero. There are several steps to the Hero's Journey that spans across the entire novel or film and could even be applied to mapping out an overall journey across a series: The Hero's Journey is split into 12 steps that span across 3 acts. Act I: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold Act II: Tests, Allies, Enemies; Approach to Inmost Cave, Ordeal, Reward, Road Back Act III: Resurrection, Return with Elixir Ordinary World: This is where the hero exists in the present at the beginning of the story or film. Call to Adventure: The hero is presented with new information that challenges her ordinary world Refusal: Hero refuses the call to adventure and suffers in some way Meeting the Mentor: Hero needs guidance, so she meets with a mentor figure who gives her information or an object that she needs Crossing the Threshold: Hero is now ready to act on the call to adventure. Voluntarily or not, the hero leaves her ordinary world in some way Tests, Allies, Enemies: Hero meets allies and enemies and is presented with obstacles Approach to Inmost Cave: Could be a physical or mental location where the hero is thrust into the great unknown and is presented again with doubt and fear Ordeal: Dangerous physical test or mental ordeal that the hero must face Reward: Hero is transformed after the ordeal and gains a reward via learning a secret or gaining a power Road Back: reverse of the Call to Adventure; must return home with the reward Resurrection: Climax where hero has most dangerous encounter with death Return with Elixir: return to hero's ordinary world, but she will have grown in some way The Hero's Journey could appear across several genres and time periods, but it is especially common to see in folklore, fairytales and their adaptations, and mythology. However, you can pick up almost every book and map out a Hero's Journey. Some of the steps may be combined as well. Let's take a well-known novel, for example: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Ordinary World: Harry is living with his mean relatives who hide his magical background from him and treat him poorly Call to Adventure: Acceptance letters from Hogwarts begin to arrive Refusal: Relatives hide the letters from Harry and continue to lie to him about his magical ancestry Meeting the Mentor: Hagrid arrives to tell Harry all about the wizarding world. He further takes him shopping for his school gear and buys him his owl companion, Hedwig Crossing the Threshold: Entering Platform 9 3/4 and boarding the Hogwarts Express Tests, Allies, Enemies: Meets Ron and Hermione on the train (allies); Meets Professor Quirrell (enemy); Meets Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy (enemies); Sorted into Gryffindor house (allies); Must learn way around Hogwarts and deal with unfair professors and school bullies (tests); Learns how to play Quidditch (tests); Troll in the dungeon (test) Inmost Cave: Find Fluffy guarding a trapdoor on the banned third floor Ordeal: Harry and friends enter the trapdoor and make it past a variety of deadly traps to reach the final test; Harry must enter the final test alone from here Reward: Harry defeats Voldemort and secures the Sorcerer's Stone; He also learns that his mother's sacrifice protects him from Voldemort's touch Road Back: Harry and friends are found and brought to the hospital wing and healed of physical injuries Resurrection: Harry recovers from an injury and wakes up surrounded by candy and gifts Return with Elixir: Students take the train back to London, and Harry temporarily leaves the wizarding world with Voldemort gone (for now)

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

What are some of the key elements of an academic essay, and why is using an outline so important?

Inactive
Sydney V.
Answer:

Depending on the type of essay and the field that it is being written in, there are several differences in composition, organization, and formatting. In a traditional research essay for most fields, there are several key elements that remain the same going into creating a strong and original essays: Deciding on a topic, Creating a thesis statement, Composing body paragraphs with topic sentences, and Citing sources. Some of these elements may seem scary and difficult, but half of the difficulty is not understanding why these elements matter to the overall structure of an essay. Many students believe that an essay has to be written from beginning to end without jumping around, and, to an extent, this is true. However, the skeleton of an essay can be constructed first before adding the meat. Creating an outline for a working thesis and supporting arguments, including any sources being used, can help you visualize the flow of an essay and keep you on track while writing. It's easy to deviate onto interesting tangents while writing, but the consequence is that it could endanger the integrity and focus of your thesis without you initially realizing it. Without a strong thesis statement and defined topic and transition sentences at the beginnings and ends of each body paragraph, the organization of your essay could become muddled and hard to understand. This creates the illusion that you may have a poor topic or don't have a grasp on what your argument is when, in fact, this may not be true at all. Instead, you may have just become swept up in your writing and lost track of the main argument for a minute. This is why creating an outline can help keep you focused and make sure that you are meeting all of the guidelines of the assignment and including all of the key elements of writing an academic essay.

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