This isn't going to hurt at allNovember 22, 2016

The student feedback kept me awake the other night. Would I live to see another day? It was rather melodramatic of me, but teenagers have feelings. They could be proud and sensitive at times. I believed that the pen and paper (or MacBook) would be my true calling until my admissions tutor gave her feedback on my (admissions) essay. She was quite impressed at my views on Guy de Maupassant's short stories and 19th-century France. She didn't expect an applicant to select this set of works, as she expected a Victorian author. She wasn't surprised when I told her that I've been to France on one occasion, and I have a knowledge of French Cinema. (I enjoy watching black comedy.) My technique was her only complain, and she believed that a student feedback would be the first step to improving my writing.

My tutor compared writers to athletes, where both must learn specific skills to master their craft. I imagined myself as a tennis player ranked outside the Top 100. I would need to improve my speed, if not my footwork. If I have a fearsome forehand, then I must work on my backhand. If I have a beautiful backhand, then my forehand must not lag behind. My professors emphasized how writing could complement hard work, pointing out that most of us have uninteresting and mechanical style. It could put us at a disadvantage, they warned us. It was our first year in the university, they consoled us. It meant we would be able to write better with less time and effort.

How did the feedback turn out for me? These were the following things I learned from the meet:

Preposition overuse ruins your style. There won't be such a thing as noun overuse, even pronoun overuse. Ditto with adjective and adverb. I found out that too many prepositions could make my professors hard to understand my assignments. Words such as by, in, and on would be needed to communicate ideas clearly. But there's such a thing as conciseness. It's a virtue in writing.

It will be wise to use participles. These are words that can be used as both verb and adjective, which give a sentence (or a paragraph) some thought. I rather call it perspective. Some guess the gerund. (Attempt is considered a verb, while attempting is a noun. This is a cross into another subject matter, though.) It will be better to spice it up with variety. This is one way to minimizing unnecessary preposition.

Adverb will be another way. It will refer to a degree, which conveys a greater sense of action. I understand it easily which is loud and clear. It couldn't be better. I might be hesitant to add "more," though.

There's power in the adjective. Adjectives precede nouns or pronouns, which help readers visualize characters and facts. The world might be dull without colors, and this analogy could apply to the use (or the lack of use) of an adjective.

Active or passive, it will be up to you. Most experts recommend the active tone in writing, but my tutor would say it can be a case-to-case basis in fiction. I will figure it out when I become serious about craft. For the meantime, I must master the basics. And I must stick to the active tone.

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