This is Alice Kim's Web-Based Writer's Portfolio. It was posted and designed by Anthony Hsu (Erwaman). This is the writer's analysis section.
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I believe good writing consists several factors: strong usage of diverse vocabulary, literary devices, and some level of reality. Good writing often requires research, an introduction that catches the reader’s interest, and a sense of familiarity within the story.
I definitely see myself as a writer. Literature has interested me for a long time. I love writing stories to amuse others and myself. Ever since I could read, I have been fascinated by how authors can shape stories with their creative thinking.
I have always been enthralled by how words can mean so much. Possessing an imagination is really special to me. I strive to weave different emotions and feelings throughout my stories.
Over the years, I have been trying to improve my writing. Many teachers have told me that I need to ‘cultivate’ my writing. I hope someday I will master the skills of writing and ‘cultivation’ to finally make up a wonderful story.
My most favorite genres to read and write are murder mysteries and fantasies. I am always amazed at how the writer can piece all the clues in the end perfectly together, like a puzzle. Fantasies are so easy to write, since you are in charge of making up your own dream world and outlandish creatures. My most favorite mystery authoress is Agatha Christie. She has the unbelievable skill to write flawlessly and accuse the most unexpected person at the scene of the crime. Philip Pullman is my favorite fantasy writer. He writes with a very creative and artistic flair. An example from his bestseller, The Subtle Knife, reads:
Will darted back to the gutter, and picked up the knife, and the fight was over. The young man, cut and battered, clambered up the steps, and saw Will standing above him, holding the knife; he stared with a sickly anger and then turned and fled.
Ah,” said Will, sitting down. “Ah.”
Something was badly wrong, and he didn’t notice it. He dropped the knife and hugged his left hand to himself.
"Your fingers,” Lyra breathed. “Oh, Will-“
His little finger and the one next to it fell on the ground...
Giacomo Paradisi was dabbing more ointment on Will’s wounds.
“You’ve got to tie something around his arm,” Lyra said. “to stop the bleeding. It won’t stop otherwise.”
"Yes, yes, I know,” said the old man, but sadly.
Will kept his eyes averted while they did a bandage.
“Now,” said Giacomo Paradisi, after they finished. “here you are, take the knife, it is yours.”
"I don’t want it,” said Will. “I don’t want anything to do with it."
“You haven’t got the choice,” said the old man. “You are the bearer now.”
“I thought you said you were the bearer,” said Lyra.
“My time is over,” he said. “The knife knows when to leave one hand and settle into another, and I know how to tell. You don’t believe me? Look!”
He held up his own hand. The little finger and the finger next to it were missing, just like Will’s…
With a heavy reluctance, Will turned to the knife and pulled it towards him. The edges of the blade were different. In fact, the two edges differed from each other. One was a clear bright steel, while the other was silvery in color.
“This edge,” said Giacomo Paradisi, touching the steel side with a handle of a spoon, “will cut through any material in the world. Look.”
And he pressed the silver spoon against the blade. Will, holding the knife, felt only the slightest resistance as the spoon’s handle fell, cut clean off.
“The other edge,” the old man went on, “is more subtle still. With it you can cut an opening out of this world and into another…”
As a writer, I love to enhance stories with adjectives and similes. They seem to give the writing a splash of color and excitement. In my opinion, descriptive words help the reader picture the story vividly in his/her mind. An area that needs to be improved in my writing is run-on sentences. Because I always enjoy using adjectives in my stories, I tend to make my work too full of descriptions.
Here are two examples of my best writing of this LA curriculum. The first one is Call of the Wild: Chapter 1, since this story displays my frequent usage of adjectives.
Hyineth sniffed the carcass lying on the blood-drenched snow. She growled in approval as the other wolves beat their tails on the ground appreciatively, waiting for her to begin eating. They were in awe of this powerful Alpha leader, and would not fill their empty stomachs until she was satisfied.
The female wolf finished her examination of the dead deer, and suddenly plunged into its side, devouring the meat and bathing her muzzle in blood. She emerged from the corpses’ ribs, running over her lips with her raw bumpy tongue.
“Not bad, fellows,” Hyineth commented huskily to the others. They bowed their heads in respect.
Salamikra, a male dog, looked up and answered, “It took us the whole morning to bring it down. We all wanted you to eat the very best.”
“How kind of you. This time, I’ll let you have the throat, Salamikra.”
“Just make sure you’ll do even better next time.”
“Oh, I will, I will.”
The male dog straightened his back with pride. None were allowed to eat the throat except the Alpha.
Hyineth knelt and engulfed herself once more in food. She loved the savagery and cruelty of her nature. An hour later, Hyineth left her position to bask in the cold winter sun, while the lowly wolves dove upon the discarded leftovers, viciously tearing and ripping the limbs apart.
“’Ey, ‘ey!” A high-pitched male voice pierced the frosty air. “Ver iz dat dug? Hyineth, cum here! Zer never wuz a mad wulf like hur. She iz a born troublemaker, she iz.”
Thick leather boots pulled up to the thigh appeared under the thick curtain of fir trees embracing the frozen river bank, as Martolli, the dog team musher, crunched through the snow towards the pile of famished wolves and Hyineth. His whip cracked the silent frozen air, as whimpering dogs scattered from the now bone-dry skeleton lying on the ice. Hyineth, however, sprung up before the whip touched her, fur bristling and teeth bared. Her lithe blue-gray body pulsed with iron-hard muscles, she smelled like terror and death, and all heard her fiery snorting breath whistling out of her black nostrils. She was indignant and angry that her leadership was being questioned. Hyineth hated her master, especially when he let his whip command his orders…
This section of Call of the Wild: Chapter 1 describes the respect Hyineth commands and the brutal leadership of Martolli. I especially enjoyed writing the accent of the Russian dog-musher. The reader could get a stronger sense of Martolli by just reading how he spoke.
The next selection I chose was from the third marking period, which was Cafeteria Follies. This composition was a fantasy of mine that I intend to take part in high school: a food fight. This portion of the essay shows the close friendship between Julie and Hector and the anticipation of the food fight building up.
I bit my lip nervously, making a thread of blood dribble down my chin. Today was the big day, and everybody in the class waited patiently for Miss Jacobson to finish her mindless droning, contorting their faces into adept listening expressions. I, meanwhile, was staring at the clock, wishing the final bell to ring, as Hector Young, one of my closest buddies, leaned over and whispered in an anxious tone.
“Hey Julie, you OK, girl?”
I didn’t even bother to look at him. I was too preoccupied.
“Hector, of course I’m OK. I feel like I’m gonna pass out from sheer boredom, but other than that, I think I’m gonna make it. Why?”
“Well, you look kinda…rigid.”
“Jeez, Hector, what are you talking about, man?” I became annoyed. My attention was directed to my pal’s face. The sunlight streamed through the window, giving his green eyes a kind of sparkle. I winced from the unexpected glare, and then glanced at the clock. 12:10 PM. Excellent.
“There’s something red on your chin, girl, and you looked like you were trying to burn holes in that poor clock. Something sinking your boat, sister?”
I gasped in horror, as I rummaged in my neon pink pencil case and pulled out a small mirror. Now it was Hector’s turn to grimace, as the reflection hit him. I paid no attention to this and examined myself closely. Blue eyshadow, fine. Blush, beautiful. Lip Gloss…Huh! I drew in a sharp intake of breath as I noticed my mouth caked with blood. Funny, I didn’t notice it. I dove into my pencil case again, bringing out a tissue. It had a little lipstick experiment on it, but I used one clean corner to carefully wipe off the blood.
“This is horrible, Heck,” I whispered urgently. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
Heck rolled his eyes and turned back around in his seat. I guess I was anticipating the food fight planned after reading class. Mr. Trampoli’s homeroom had challenged Mrs. Hendrik’s homeroom to a food fling. The losers must buy the winners pizza and Sprite for the next month. I groaned loudly, forgetting where I was. Miss Jacobson was suddenly beside my left, appearing like a flash of lightning. Her keen eyes scrutinized my desk, and I saw them widen with satisfaction as they landed on my kissed tissue and mirror.
“Well, well, well,” Miss Jacobson actually cackled. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch from Snow White. “Julie, you know better than to run a beauty salon with Mr. Young here.” I saw Hector slide down the back of his seat, his ears turning a bright red.
Miss Jacobson opened her evil little mouth to say something else, but it was replaced by the dring-dring-ringing of the bell. Whoo-hoo! I thanked the Lord for his punctuality. Saved by the bell.
I rushed out of the door before Miss Jacobson could say anything. I scrambled to my locker and piled everything in, without taking any afternoon books. I could stop by later. What really mattered right now was the food fight…
I think I have improved my writing immensely over this past year. It has been disciplined to fit whatever requirements, and because of the revisions, I have developed a wide vocabulary. Here are two examples of my writing, one from the beginning of the year (Adolescent Story Chapter 1) and the end (Children).
Thirteen year-old Emily Javenson flew down the stairs and grabbed her backpack. Her golden retriever, Biscuit, scampered to her side, expecting a pat on the head. Emily ignored Biscuit and ran out the door. The dog sat on the driveway, his head cocked and ears bent, waiting for a belly rub.
The dog followed her school bus all the way to Greenville Middle School. After reporting to the main office, Emily sprinted to her first period class, Physical Education. She raced to the gym with Biscuit stealthily tagging along. Emily flung open the door and skidded inside; she looked like a person participating in a marathon. She ran to her locker and tried the combination. Her locker jammed.
Come on, come on,” Emily panted, her forehead creasing in annoyance. She banged on the locker with anger and frustration. After the third try, the locker finally shuddered and opened, revealing her crumpled gym clothes stashed in the corner.
“Yes!” Emily gave a shout of glee as she quickly dressed. With a groan of dismay, she realized she forgot her sneakers. Nevertheless, Emily still liked gym, and fervently prayed that her teacher ignore her three-inch slippers...
This story wasn’t very realistic for several reasons. People would have surely spotted a dog walking around in school, and Emily was quite foolish to think that she could participate in gym with her outrageous shoes. I found reading this composition difficult to understand because of all the improbabilities thrown in there.
Pressing gently on the doorbell, I stood on the doorstep. Looking nervously around on this gorgeous May day, I viewed the freshly painted green shutters and white trim. This seemed like a nice place. I could still smell the bitter scent of freshly cut grass after Kyle mowed the grass this morning. I heard a crash, glass breaking, and the bright red door creaked open. I found myself staring into the tiny face of a three year old, who smiled and proudly showed me two enormous gaps in her mouth. She was immediately picked up by a frazzled looking woman with pale skin stretched tightly over her bones.
“Oh, you must be Alice.” Mrs. Kimball stuck out her thin hand, and I felt many calluses and hard bumps. Whoa. Must be tough running a six-kid house. She invited me to come inside, and I carefully stepped over the fallen tables and tipped trucks spilling sand on the hardwood. “Jason is working at the gas station, Kyle went to a friend’s house, and Julie is at the movies with some friends.”
Great, I thought. Just me and three kids. No sweat...
I learned how to include many descriptive phrases, giving the reader a sense of Mrs. Kimball’s appearance and the children. The story also had a very realistic setting, which made it easier to read.
Good writing requires several elements. Even though I haven’t mastered them all, I hope that I will soon.
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