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The following notes come from a student practice session on writing improvement. Includes samples of student writing and teacher comments (in italics).

Writing about a Person

Student Writing

Student One

She is a good person. I try to give her characteristics on two sides. On one side, she is tenderhearted. When I need help she every time is ready to help me, but on her other side always is peevish. Before she gives you help, she is talking and talking like a crow.

Use of adjectives is useful. Adjectives describe nouns.

She was lazy. She only works 40 hours a week. In some places, where work of 50 and more is common, this is true. In Canada, she's a hard worker.

The detail (metaphor) of the crows is easily imagined and clear. The adjectives may not give such a clear picture.

Student Two

Alice is a college student. She knows she should study hard to get a diploma, but she likes watching TV too much. When there is her favourite movie on TV, she has a hard time choosing whether to do her homework or watch the movie.

OR, it is hard for her to choose whether to do . . .

We can relate to Alice. We understand her problem. Your audience (the readers) will appreciate an honest statement.

Student Three

I said, "You have to listen to me. I am your friend. I am not your enemy!"

This dialogue rings true. It sounds like what someone may actually say. Use dialogue as often as possible to show the personality of someone.


Writing about One Person as Two People

     My friend had at least two people inside him. One was impatient but careless. This one got things done, it was true, but not always well. The speed with which my friend worked was incredible; he surprised me once with plans for a house, years before I dreamed he'd be ready. He had a sweet, thoughtful man inside him, too. This man was the one who phoned others just to check in and make sure all was well. But the speedy man often stood impatiently in the background. That would lead to my having a great conversation with the sweet man, interrupted by the other man who would say, suddenly, "Got to go, see you later!" I suppose they worked together pretty well. The man in a rush won too often, in my opinion, but you always knew that his sweet side might come out, around a campfire say, and then the speedy guy would disappear for a while. For reaching the maximum number of people, perhaps it was a good thing that he had a speedy man inside! (Brad Hyde; first draft writing) 

—January 25, 2005


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