Feedback for Shania Newsam



A few notes on the draft ^^^ ; please download and view as you’re able.  I’m glad to see you getting some really decent feedback below.  I echo the comments that admire the many images you give us in this draft and which call on you to develop this story a bit more.  Exactly how to do that is the question!  Here’s some ideas:

–You could follow David’s suggestion and try to focus this essay on your transformation from a formerly-uniform-wearing new kid into a badass dancer and choreographer.  We’d need to see more of life at your earlier school and more of the process—dance classes, etc.—through which you came to excel at dance.

–Another approach would be a bit more abstract: I have noticed in your essay (and highlighted accordingly) just how interested you seem to be in the SOUNDS of your school: birds chirping, guns going off in the hallway, the helicopter sounds “infusing” the classroom, students shouting “FRESH MEAN” (a good title by the way), etc.  So I could see you developing this theme.  If you did this, I’d suggest re-writing the whole thing in a new Word doc while reading through your current draft in another window.  In your NEW draft, just focus on what you think the effects of SOUND on your experience of this school were.  Did sounds ever help you learn/focus?  If so, which ones–and how?  Did sounds ever distract you from learning/focusing/etc.?  If so, which ones–and how?

–One final suggestion: I’m interested in the school shooting and lockdown.  Of course, you could focus the whole essay on building up to this moment and developing the details of this scene.  From the way it’s written, I’m also not certain as to whether this happened in reality or in your mind (or both!).  If you’re trying to poetically show the reader how entering the hallway filled you with anxiety and dread the likes of which one might experience during a school shooting, I’d recommend using some sort of framing language to indicate this e.g.,:

“As I stepped out into the hallway, I was filled with the same kind of dread I imagine survivors of school shootings have experienced.”

“As I step out into the hallway, I imagine being fired on from all sides…”

Of course, if the school shooting actually did happen, then you would write about it accordingly and not use language like the above sentences to show that you were imagining this…

One last thing: notice my two example sentences above are in different verb tenses (the first is past tense; the second is present tense).  I suggest you pick one verb tense and stick to it throughout your story—unless you really feel the need to change to another tense.  Write me if you need more help with this.


9 thoughts on “Feedback for Shania Newsam”

  1. Hey Shania,

    I really liked how you started off with the quote regarding the concept of how beauty basically evolves by Maya Angelou. By first reading it, I feel as if us, as readers, can paint the scene as to different ways in which you can take this quote in order to your story. I also enjoyed the way in which you transition in the essay from being that “timid, smart, quiet girl” to eventually finding your niche in your identity within your high school environment. Your incorporation of dialogue as well as the painted image of the butterfly helped bring out your ideas more to life so that we, as the readers, could better visualize what it is that you are trying to convey.

    I would suggest during your revision, though, that you maintain the use of the significance of the butterfly that you used as an analogy and make comparisons throughout the essay as to how the process of evolving takes time and determination; you could use the evolution of the butterfly as a dialogue form, for instance, with the different trials and hardships you faced during that rough year. Also, what was your reason for including the hard lockdown and the gunshot scene that occurred in the beginning of the year? What about that event caused you to look at your life and environment at that time in a certain way? It feels as if you caught me, as the reader, with building up that tension but it just suddenly dies down when you switch the scene/topic.

    Besides that, I really enjoyed your essay and hope that you are able to still build up your self-confidence wherever you go and whatever encounter you’re faced with!

  2. Hello Shania,

    Lovely piece. I liked your analogies to metamorphosis as you spoke about your personal development. Finding yourself isn’t as easy as many may make it seem. But I’m happy in the end that you finally did find yourself through dance, and never resulted to adopting someone else’s identity as your own. You’ve also come up with some creative descriptions throughout the essay. (The birds chirping, troubled bowels, helicopter noise, fresh meat, etc.) I like those bits the best! Your voice was prominent throughout, and I enjoyed reading it.

    I must admit that I was surprised when I reached the end of the essay. It felt like we were just getting to the meat of it. From the beginning, you hinted that you discovered yourself through dance so I was looking forward to hearing that story. But when you got to that part, it feels like we quickly breezed through it. My main suggestion would be to talk a bit more about that. Tell us how dance and the people you surrounded yourself with helped you find the confidence to be you.
    I also have questions about the school shooting bit. It felt a bit out of place. Did it also play a role in your “self discovery?”

  3. Hi Shania,

    You’ve started your essay with a quote, which is a beautiful intro. It helps set the tone of the “lesson” you learned. Due to past English classes with strict templates for persuasive or informative essays, I was feeling as if I was reading one of those, but I like how you transitioned quickly in the next paragraph to a less formal, story-like format. I was getting a little confused, though, reading through the second paragraph. I have some idea of what’s going on, from the school lockdown and the transition to a different grade, but I feel like those sections should be separated and expanded on. Such as the school lockdown and your mother being present at the school, there are some questions around that situation. Was there any specific information you can share leading up to the moment? The immediate aftermath? Agreeing with David, how did it affect your self-discovery and your confidence going forward? There are some details missing from seems to be a major event in your life that can really tie this essay together. Going forward, you ended on a good note – why? How did dancing impact you and increase your confidence? What about being apart of the team made you feel like you were becoming your own person? Otherwise, great work!

  4. Hi Shania

    It is great that you have chosen a beautiful quote as a hook for starting your essay. In the beginning of your essay you have considered yourself to be ‘’timid,smart,quiet girl’’ and you gave a nice example about how you would not talk in your class or call out any answer unless the teacher calls on you and then you would give the whole class the correct answer. This really helps us to understand why you considered yourself to be ‘’timid,smart,quiet girl’’.
    After reading the first paragraph of your essay I knew what you will talk about. You have mentioned that dancing helped you find who you are. I was thinking what if you could write about a moment when you started dancing or maybe something like how you felt after the first day of dancing. Something that would give us a better understanding of how dancing and friends helped you to find who you are and confidence.
    it was nice to see your transition from being a timid person to truly find yourself. Apart from that I really enjoyed reading your essay.

  5. Hi Shania,

    I hope all is well. Thank you for sharing this essay. I enjoy reading essay about self-love and growth. Your introduction captivated me from the title to the opening Maya Angelou quote. I wanted to know why you referenced this particular quote? Is there anyway you can tell the audience why you decided to reference this and what was the significance of using this quote?
    Your style of writing is so descriptive and whimsical. I got a bit confused in the middle of the paragraph. I’m not sure if there were actual guns being fired or were you saying it felt like guns were being shot because you were scared? I liked the ending where you found dance something you were passionate about. I wish the essay had more detail about you discovering dance and you learning to overcome that shy and lack of confidence through step. How were the tryouts? Were you nervous during tryouts? Were you disappointed that the dance coach left and you had to join step? Did you feel like you settled for step?
    Overall I enjoyed reading your essay. Can’t wait to see the final draft 🙂

  6. Hello Shania,
    Thank you for sharing your essay with us. I liked the quote you used in the beginning, I thought it was really good because it further developed into the topic of growth, and character development as you get older. As I was reading your story I really enjoyed the way in which you transitioned in the essay from being that “timid, smart, quiet girl” to eventually finding the things you like and your own personal identity in your high school. I am glad that you found a passion for dance, but I wonder how you overcame the fear of social awkwardness; perhaps you should expand on that in your final draft.
    Besides that, it made me really happy that you were able to build up your self-confidence, because I struggle with that as well and I know how it feels sometimes.

  7. Hey Shania,
    I loved your essay I thought it was is captivating the way you used different scenarios to make comparisons and to show growth in your own life. I agree that being interested in new things and meeting new people can absolutely help to strengthen your confidence. When I started high school I met my best friend who is still my friend to this day and she has helped me to bring up my confidence a lot. Growing up I also was always the “timid, smart, quiet” so I know how you felt and what it feels like to gain more confidence. Overall your essay is very good however I think you should explain a little bit how it made you feel to finally have that self-confidence.

  8. Hey Shania.

    I love your intro, the quote by Maya Angelo really sets the tone for the essay and gives me something to expect. Overall, I think this is a great solid essay. One thing that I think can be useful for your essay is elaborating on certain situations, like joining the step team. You claim you are “creative, outgoing, and hard-working” but I think you should show that more than telling us. Are there any personal projects you work on? Do you have a hobby? Those might be some things you can include and try back your main point of self-confidence.

  9. I loved the use of quotes in you essay, also love the attention to the sound around. Reading the school shooting paragraph was a little confusing. it was so bold I’m thinking did it really happen or was it a creative choice. I only ask that because you left us on a ledge. You didn’t expand on the shooting in the next paragraph. If you don’t plan to expanding on that paragraph in your final essay I think you should remove it, it serves only as shock factor with no reward on what happens. Also it goes away from the tone of you essay which was set by the quote of Maya Angelou you started with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.