Follow the Prompt

I always hear “follow the prompt” when I write an English essay. The most important thing, as I am told,  is to follow the prompt.

“OBEY the prompt”  -Mr. Ziebarth

Recently we wrote a style analysis essay. We analyzed the writing of John James Audubon and Annie Dillard. As we wrote these analysis essays, we had to focus on the tasks involved in style analysis.

I had to focus on structure. It is important to look at how the author chose to write the essay. Where there a periods versus semicolons. Why they chose that sentence structure. This also involved word choice. Audubon had a more scientific vocabulary in comparison to Dillard; however, Dillard provided a more artistic view of the same subject.

Second, I had to find what the purpose of the essays were. While they might be about the same topic, the did not necessarily have the same purpose to their essay. I found that Dillard’s purpose was more to amaze, while Audubon wanted to revel in the scientific surprises that surrounded this flock of birds. When reading essays, I have found that the purpose is not always clear. It is common for me to have to reread essay in order to find the purpose.

As I wrote my essay, I found myself writing too much. Mr. Ziebarth told me to be clear and concise, but strong. Readers don’t want to be reading your essay for a long time if the point could have been conveyed in a few short sentences.

One problem that I commonly run into is that my argument isn’t clear. I know what I am trying to say, but I am unable to convey it on paper.

“It does not matter what the author intended to say, only what they did say” is the first thing my teacher taught me about style analysis. The same problem arises when people read my essays. They don’t care about what I was attempting to say, only what I ended up putting on paper, which does not turn out well for me.

So, I am still learning. My teacher tells me that the only way to get better is to just keep writing. Only so much instruction can be given before it is all up to me to improve my writing. This blog is one of the places I practice. I hope that as the year goes on, I will be able to see improvement and feel proud of where I came from and where I have come.


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