A Mete-Analysis of “My Family History”
Through writing subsequent drafts of “My Family History,” I notice that I make certain mistakes with some regularity. The most common ones are the use of slang, improper grammar, improper syntax, and the occasional omission of words and phrases. Yet my writing is also characterized by a few strengths. For example, I do not use redundant language (I should note that since this essay follows a strict chronology, it was easier for me not to write any repetitive and redundant sentences). I learned how to fix my mistakes and tried not to make them again.
In my first draft, I made some grammatical mistakes and some syntactical errors. For example, the last sentence of the second paragraph initially read “My mother would sometimes cry and even think of separation, but she couldn't because the new life she had inside her,” I changed this sentence to, “My mother would sometimes cry and even think of separation, but she couldn't because of the new life she had inside of her.” The reason why I added the preposition “of” between the words “because” and “the” was because “of” tells where the new life is taking place. The sentence is clearer in its second iteration with the addition of the word “of” and easier to understand.
To improve the clarity of my sentences (syntax), I actually reworded the sentences and made them more detailed. For example, the third sentence of the second paragraph read “Seems like a great life, but that was only from the book cover.” I was trying to say that my parents' life together seemed so happy and perfect, but that this was only what an outside observer would think. I then changed the sentence to, “From the outside, that life appeared to be ideal. But their marriage was actually very difficult.” The first version of the sentence wasn't easy to comprehend, but the second version explains what their life was like at that time. Another sentence that exemplifies improper syntax use is, “The amazing thing was not only did I survive the high chance of death, but that I held on to my umbilical cord so tight (during my mother's pregnancy) that after it was cut by the doctor the remaining nub stayed connected to my body for ten days versus the usual one week as is the case for most kids.” I changed the sentence to, “The amazing thing was not that I had survived, but that I had held on to my umbilical cord so tight in my mother's womb that part of it remained attached to my belly for ten days after birth versus the usual one week for most kids.” The second version of the sentence now identifies more clearly for my readers where and what the umbilical cord was.
Now that I had added another three pages to my document, I knew that there were further corrections I would have to make to my paper. In this paper, the most common mistake I made was the use of slang. This made my paper less clear and hard to understand. To fix this problem, I simply reworded the sentences. For example, I initially wrote in one paragraph, “I believe our youth group is getting tighter and tighter every moment.” I changed the language of this sentence to, “I believe the people in our youth group are getting closer and closer every month.” The first sentence was a bit strange because I used the word “tight”, which is a slang word that means, or indicates, “close-relationship.” Another example of imprecise word use is the phrase “Things started to get better and better.” Because the word “thing” is a vague word, I eliminated the vagueness by rewording the sentence and explaining what the “thing” was. I substituted the phrase, “Life got better and better”, for the word “it”, which also explains why I use the word “life” so often in this document.
In addiction to syntactical mistakes, I also noticed several grammatical mistakes. For example, I wrote “So to cool off, in September 1999, my family, the pastor's family, and some other church family members decided to go on a cross country trip around America via Boston, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona (Grand Canyon/Los Vegas) and Irvine California.” There were a lot of recurrent grammar mistakes (commas) in this sentence. I changed the sentence to, “So to relax, in September 1999, my family, the pastor's family, and some other church family members decided to go on a cross country trip around America, visiting Boston, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona (Grand Canyon/Los Vegas), and Irvine, California.” By adding commas after the name of each state, it is now easier for the reader to know where I went. Another simple mistake that I made in my first draft was to use present tense verbs, when I should have used past tense verbs. For example, “And that baby is me” to, “And that baby was me.” I noticed that I had to use the correct verb tenses in order for my reader to understand what is going on in the document.
On my second draft, I found another recurrent mistake and that was the occasional omission of words and phrases. For example, the sentence “My father got an offer at a better job in Seoul...” This sentence was changed to, “But after only one year in Irvine, father received a better job offer in Seoul…” The second version of the sentence is much clear because more detail was added. By adding the phrase “But after only one year in Irvine” tells exactly when my father got a better job offer. Also by adding the phrase “received a better job” than “got an” and “at a better job” makes the two phrases into one, making it shorter and brief. Another example would be, “This was a praise because my parents wanted three children…” This sentence was changed to, “This was a cause for praise because my parents wanted three children…” By adding “cause for” between “a” and “praise” made it clear what the cause was that made my parents praise.
Again in my paper, I noticed that lack clarity was a constant mistake that I had been making. For example, I wrote “My father would always fight with my mother because of the stress at work.” In this sentence, the reason why my parents fought wasn't made clear enough. So I subsequently changed the sentence to, “My parents didn't have a good relationship because my father loved his job more than his wife.” The first sentence was vague because it didn’t explain clearly why my father and my mother fought. But the corrected version of the sentence explains why my parents didn’t have a good relationship. Although this draft had more mistakes, it helped me be more aware of recurrent mistakes on my last draft.
In my last draft, I had hardly anything to correct because I had already revised the paper twice. The only mistake that I made was another grammar mistake. For example, I wrote “My father, a business man, and my mother, a loving beautiful young woman, married...” This sentence was later changed to, “My father, a business man, and my mother, a loving, beautiful young woman, married...” Notice how I put the comma next to the word “loving” because I am listing the adjectives that describe my mother. By adding the comma next to loving, it tells that my mother is a loving person.
Throughout writing my drafts, I noticed that thinking of writing as a process and not as a product really helps in writing. Writing one paper a day helped me to notice the common mistakes and habits. As I noticed the mistakes and, I tried to avoid them in the next draft. Writing portions of the essay also gave me a better start and finish to my drafts. It saved me time and of course gave me less stress than procrastinating. While writing my drafts, I noticed that if I want to improve the quality of my writing, I would have to improve slowly and know that writing is not a product, but a process.
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