Throughout the course of this semester, I have experienced significant improvements in various aspects of my writing skills, which I will demonstrate in this portfolio. This digital portfolio will include the two main improvements in my writing skills during this semester, as well as selections from my writing assignments serving as evidences for my improvements. The two main improvements in my writing I have experienced so far in this semester are transitions between paragraphs, as well as the use of specific techniques in writing, such as the opening hook, meaningful conclusion, and the known-new chain.
Transitions are words or phrases that connect one part of the essay to another. They are essential in formal writing, and are often used by writers to guide the reader, or audience, through their idea development paths. Through this semester of learning, I have largely improved on the use of transitional phrases and sentences in my writing. Such improvements can be seen in the comparison of the first and final drafts of the assignments Curated Exhibit and Narrative Essay.
In my first draft of the Curated Exhibit assignment, I did not implement transitional sentences as often as I did in my final draft. For example, in my first draft, my introduction only talks about the general idea of the exhibition, but did not connect with the main parts of the exhibition. However, in my final draft, I added a transitional sentence at the last part of the introduction section, making the flow of ideas more natural and smooth to my audience.
Such improvement can also be seen in my first and final drafts of the Narrative Essay assignment. In the first draft, I did not use any transitional phrases and sentences to link the second paragraph, which is about viewing the introduction part of the exhibit, to the third paragraph, which is about viewing the first and most important primary source of the exhibition, the play A Raisin in the Sun. In my final draft of the Narrative Essay, however, I used a transition sentence in the last part of the second paragraph to make the transition from the introduction of the exhibition to the first artifact of the exhibition seem more natural.
The sixth and seventh paragraphs of the final draft of the Narrative Essay can also demonstrate my use of transitions in my writing. The sixth paragraph of the essay is about my experiences of viewing a black and white photo in my Curated Exhibit. Since the seventh paragraph is also about viewing a photo that is black and white, I used this common characteristic of the two exhibits to smoothly transition from the sixth paragraph to the seventh.
Some of the most important writing techniques I have learned and improved on through this semester are the opening hook, the known-new chain, as well as a more meaningful conclusion. Implementing these writing techniques in our writings can better engage the audience’s attention, and facilitate the flow of idea development in our writings. Improvements in my implementation of these writing techniques are evident in the comparison of selections from my first and final drafts of the Narrative Essay assignment.
An opening hook is a literary device that attracts or “hooks” the reader’s attention in the opening of a story so that the reader will keep reading the story with interest. I improved the introduction of my first draft of my Narrative Essay by implementing this technique to it. I used a famous quote by Marco Rubio as my first sentence of the opening paragraph, and related it to the main theme of my Narrative Essay as well as the exhibition. This quote immediately grabs the readers’ attention and gives them an idea of what my essay is about.
The known-new chain, also known as the known-new contract, is a commonly used literary device to improve the flow and synthesis of sentences. The known-new contract is implemented when a sentence in the writing links back to an idea brought up by the previous sentence, and then also brings up an new idea after the link. Implementations of this known-new chain can be seen throughout parts of my final draft of the Narrative Essay assignment. Below are two examples from my Narrative Essay that demonstrate my use of the known-new chain. In the first example, the “known” object is the pair of headphones, which I introduced to in my first sentence. I linked back to the headphones in my second sentence, and brought up a new idea after the link. In the second example, the “known” idea is the clarification in my first sentence, and the “new” idea is how the clarification made me feel.
In the beginning of the semester, the conclusions I wrote in my essays were nothing more than a brief summary of the contents of essay, which is similar to the introduction paragraph. Through the course of this semester, I have learned to improve my conclusion paragraph and to make it more meaningful by adding new ideas according to the context but different to those brought up in the main contents of my essays in my conclusion paragraph. This change is apparent in the comparison of the conclusions of the first and final drafts of my Curated Exhibit. In the final draft, not only did I summarize my exhibit, as I did in the first draft, but I also related one of the main themes of the exhibit, racial discriminations, to issues happening around us today.
Featured Artifact- Narrative Essay
The Narrative Essay assignment can best demonstrated my improvements in writing. The Narrative Essay assignment is an continuation of the Curated Exhibit assignment, and in which I wrote in the perspective of an impartial visitor who had just visited my Curated Exhibit. Starting from the beginning of the assignment, the opening hook I have implemented in the introduction paragraph of the assignment is a demonstration of a writing technique that I have rarely used in my previous writing assignments. Not only do the quote that serves as my opening hook effectively grabs the attention of my audience, but it also points out the main theme of my whole essay, the American Dream. Transitional phrases and sentences are also notable in my narrative essay assignment. I used transitional sentences in almost every paragraph to smooth the flow of idea development between paragraphs, as well as to improve the transitions as I move from one artifact to the next. The known-new chain can be found in various parts of my narrative essay. For example, “The background of the exhibition showed a wooden floor with a white wall in front of the viewer. This made me feel as if I was inside a real gallery looking at the exhibit artifacts on the walls.” and “Although people did tend to associate the word “colored” with African Americans, the word “colored” in this case meant no other than the fact that the film itself is in color. This clarification made me smile, and I felt guilty for directly relating the word to a race.” are two parts where I implemented the known new chain to improve the flow of sentences. I reflected back to the ideas in the previous sentence, and brought up new ideas in the following sentences. In the end of my Narrative Essay, I made my conclusion more meaningful by relating the theme of my experiences, the prevalence of racial issues, to events happening around us today, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the typical stereotypes of African Americans. This makes my conclusion more powerful and meaningful than just summarizing the contents in the essay.
Transitions and writing techniques are the two important aspects which can demonstrate the most important improvements in my writing skills through the course of this semester. The artifacts included in this digital portfolio all provide examples of improvements in my writing in these two areas. Not only are these improvements significant in making my writing more coherent and powerful than before, but they also help shape myself into a more articulate and well-organized writer.