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Letter to a Freshman

"Oh, the glory days..."

Dear Jane,

High school...the white walls, clogged hallways, and smelly locker rooms. Oh, the glory days, but all of that will cease to exist when it comes to focusing on the actual classes you will be taking. English, in particular, will be a tough one. Gone are the days of easy grammar and spelling worksheets. Say hello to long and constant essay assignments. Yet never fret dear Jane; writing can be fun! Here are a few steps to make your transition from junior high English classes to high school a little easier.

Step 1: Do not procrastinate!

If you are given a certain amount of days to complete an assignment, do it sooner rather than later. Give yourself time to make any needed changes. It isn’t good to stay up late the night before a paper is due and submit mediocre thoughts to the teacher. Put your phone down and stay off of social media long enough to formulate your thoughts and turn in a proper paper. Thought processes in English classes are important. Depending on the teacher, you will more than likely have to turn in an outline of your thoughts so the teacher can analyze the steps you took to get to your final draft.

Step 2: Your first draft is never your final draft!

Even if you feel like you have perfected it and can’t dare to think about parting with anything you have written, check again. There is always room for improvements. Let’s say, for example, you love your paragraph about how turtles are land and sea creatures. You go on confessing your love for them, but don’t really solidify your love with actual information. That would be something you can fix in a new draft. Whether you get suggestions from your peers or from your teacher, take them into consideration for bettering your writing.

Step 3: Remember to use grammar!

Even though you no longer have any of the easy worksheets anymore, some teachers are sticklers for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Revising and editing is a must. What is the difference you may ask? Well, editing deals mostly with the mechanical stuff such as grammar, while revision is more like rewriting a plain old sentence to make it better. For example, “The cat is black.” This simple sentence can be turned into something MORE. For instance, “Its ebony fur glistened in the moonlight from the open window, giving it an almost smoky appearance. In that moment, I realized maybe black cats aren’t symbols for bad luck?” See? That can be an example of a revision to help add depth to a sentence. Give it some detail to paint a picture. Which brings me to the next step.

Step 4: Add in some details!

These little buddies can be your best friend when writing a paper. Unfortunately, that can be a little nightmarish when over-used as well. Sometimes more is more and sometimes less is more. You don’t want to go around talking about the, “Pretty cat that was very shiny, smooth, and bright and it makes you want to pet its shiny brightness.” That is an example of too many details. You can start to get repetitive if too many details are in use. over the years in high school, you will come to realize when and where to use the details you include. Until then, when in doubt ask your teachers. They are, after all, there to help you. That is their job.

Jane, those are a few words of wisdom when it comes to writing and English classes. Listen to you teacher and keep these steps in mind. Hopefully they will help guide you to a successful writing experience. Until next time!

Sincerely,

Alexandria Bliss