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Sunday, January 30, 2011
Writing is Hard, But Michelle McLean Can Help!
Writing is hard. (Just ask my students.) But have no fear, Michelle McLean is here!
(I want to get her a superhero cape!)
Michelle has dropped in today to answer a few questions about her new book, Homework Helpers: Essays & Term Papers.
1. What was your inspiration for writing this book?
In doing a little refresher research for some How To posts on my blog, I noticed that there weren’t any guidebooks or websites out there that just flat out told readers exactly what they needed to do for all the different kinds of essays out there. In ‘PLAIN ENGLISH.’ They all listed the rules, but few showed readers what to do with those rules. And most were so full of confusing and technical language even I had a hard time making sense of it.
So, I decided to write a book that showed readers, step by step, from start to finish, exactly what they needed to do to write all the different types of essays. The book is written in a very conversational, easy to understand tone and I’ve included rough draft, edited, and final draft examples of every type of essay I discuss so students can actually see what they are supposed to be doing.
2. Over the years, I've met a number of students who struggle with homework, and how to write especially. What do you think is the biggest hurdle students must overcome to be successful in school?
For lack of a better word, I’m going to say attitude. And by that, I’m not referring to the famous surly teenager attitude :) I mean that “lack of confidence” or frustration attitude that students often exhibit when faced with difficult tasks. They either look at their assignment and get so overwhelmed they assume they can’t do it, or get so frustrated trying to do it they give up.
If they could get past that “I can’t” attitude, I think students could be a lot more successful.
It’s one of the reasons I wrote my book. The techniques I apply to writing essays can be used for any type of assignment or project. Break it down, take it slow. Maybe they think they can’t write a 10 page paper, but I bet they can pick a topic. Once that’s taken care of, move on to the next step. And before they know it, the paper is done. But nothing will get accomplished if the student doesn’t have the confidence to try. They need a “what the heck, I’ll give it a try” attitude :)
3. As a high school teacher, I often hear that students these days are ill-prepared for college, especially when it comes to writing the dreaded research paper. Do you agree with this? Why/why not?
I do agree with this. I just don’t think much emphasis is placed on being able to write a good paper anymore. Students are taught the basics of essay writing and it’s left at that unless they are in AP courses. In fact, I had a reader comment the other day that she made it all the way through high school without ever once writing a paper. So it was a huge shock when she got to college and was expected to know how to do them.
4. Who is your target audience? Is there an age range of students who would most benefit from reading your book?
The book can be used by anyone, from those learning the basics of essay writing up through college students doing more advanced papers, but the book is geared mostly for high school students.
5. Last question! What was your favorite subject in school? (And lunch doesn't count!)
LOL In high school it was English; in college it was History. I ended up with a BS in History and a MA in English and now pen “how to write” books and historical novels for young adults :) The best of both worlds! :)
Michelle McLean is a writer and the Chief Editorial Consultant for PixelMags, LLC. In addition to her non-fiction work, Michelle writes YA historical novels and other children’s books. If she's not editing, reading or chasing her kids, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book.
Homework Helpers: Essays and Term Papers is a fun, user-friendly book that guides the reader, step by step, through writing a dozen different types of essays, including the dreaded SAT essay. Using straightforward, plain English, this book shows the reader exactly what they need to do, from start to finish, and includes rough draft, edited, and final draft versions of every type of essay discussed. This book also provides chapters that include tips and instruction on researching, proofreading, and citations.