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Great creative writer.... not so good at essays

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Beating my head against a wall here. I don't think I understand how my daughter is rather good at creative writing. But essay writing....argh.... pull my hair out. She sounds rather grown when she writes stories but essays have a childish air about them. My daughter is 13.


I do know part of it is passion. She LOVES to write stories / poetry. But HATES to write an essay. How on earth to channel her gift into essay writing?


An example of recent creative writing:

The sky was a stingy and bleak gray, full with morbid clouds that seemed to be on the verge of letting their silver tears fall to the earth. The land, the land that covered as far as the eye could see, was more saddening than the sky. Its grass was nothing but thin gray and white wisps swaying slightly in the whispering wind. The once grand and proud trees were now cruelly grotesque; their overly large branches twisting, turning, and ending in a sharp points that could take an eye out if too close. Their trunks were wrinkled and full of knots. No wildflowers nor ferns but throne bushes grew tall along the creek bank. Small animals, if alive, were not seen for fear a wild bird would swoop down and eat them. Larger animals stayed hidden in the depths of the forest growing more violently vicious by the day. Even though the world was terrifying cold, Flyta loved it.



And then a thesis statement today that didn't even come close to making sense:

A graphic designer career is more rewarding than the fin at careers because there are few expenses so the artist doesn't have to spend as much, can be more creative and still earn a wonderful living, and there is a enormousness client base for graphic designers. :001_huh:

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You've got my daughter at your house! :bigear:


So far, we are getting a bit better results because I have her turn all her essays in to her father (the English lit major ;)). She seems to take suggestions more easily from him in this regard. She has to write 2 essays a week at the moment in Shurley, and we seem to be having at least a little progress. Depending on where she is at the end of Shurley 6, I've considered putting her in the Time4Writing essay course so that she is accountable to an outside person.

Edited by KarenNC
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Just off the top of my head, it seems like she is trying to crowd a lot of ideas into that topic sentence. Maybe try and have her break it up in order of importance, ie "Graphic design is a better career choice than the fine arts." Does she outline her paragraphs?

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While we have not focused on creative writing at home, my daughter is amazing at creative writing; her essays however leave a lot of room for improvement.


What I've noticed with my daughter is that she has difficulty staying on one idea and developing that idea. She is thinking creatively and linearly, if that makes sense.


Basically, I'm using The Lost Tools of Writing with her this year. And when brainstorming to complete her ANI chart, she is able to fill it up easily. But when sorting her ideas that are similar and grouping them together, she is weak. She tends to group ideas that flow as if she's telling herself a story. She should instead be grouping ideas horizontally that support each other so that she can add strength to her opinions.


I've been thinking about this for a while, and I don't necessarily think it's bad to argue a point in an essay by staying with one idea and rolling with it chronologically; however, my daughter needs to be able to stay on one idea and develop it fully before moving to another. And her ideas must connect logically with real world limitations--something that doesn't have to happen in creative writing because she builds her own worlds.


Not sure if this is the exact same problem, but this is our writing focus now. And my daughter is also 13.

Edited by Kimber
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I used to encounter this type of kid back when I taught middle school. I think it's often the voracious readers who end up with this issue. They devour so much fiction that they assimilate these wonderful conceptions of what makes quality fiction writing. But they have no similar experience with thesis essays so the learning experience is completely different. That doesn't give you a solution necessarily, but I think it's a completely understandable issue for a kid to have.


I used to feel like I always got the best results with students when I focused on paring things down to the most basic and focusing on the bones of the essay - the thesis statement and the organization. Obviously she can write. It's more of a question of helping her internalize the structure of the essay so she can actually write it. That thesis statement you gave says to me that she doesn't get what she's even supposed to be doing with a thesis essay.

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