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Bailey Bowe


Mentor Assessment #1

Date: 3-9-16

Subject: Literary Writing and Editing

Over spring break last week, I had the amazing privilege to travel down to Austin, Texas
in order to meet with my mentor, Mrs. Tiffany Yates Martin, in person. While we have been
communicating and speaking through skype and through phone calls for weeks, it is difficult to
form the same kind of relationship most student will have with their mentors by shadowing
them in person. That’s why when I initially began this mentorship, I knew I had to take the time
to actually visit with Mrs. Martin face to face.
My trip began at Joslin Elementary School in South Austin. Mrs. Martin has been kind
enough to reach out and help the local school in teaching a fourth grade class how to write and
edit their own work for their upcoming writing STAAR exam. I asked beforehand if the teacher
would be willing to let me join her in the process of teaching the kids and she was generous
enough to say yes.
That’s how I found myself standing outside of the old school, waiting for Mrs. Martin to
arrive as I got strange looks from by passers. Eventually, she came around the corner and lead
me into the classroom that housed the eager fourth graders. There were a few introductions that
took place but we more or less jumped right into the lesson.

“If you had one million dollars, what would you spend it on and why?”

This was the prompt Mrs. Martin had given the kids a few days prior and the kids were
tasked with writing an outline and then the full essay. There was a wide variety of responses
from the class. Some kids wanted to end world hunger while others wanted an Xbox, but
regardless, it was an amazing experience. It may seem strange for me to shadow over a task that
would be extremely easy for me to complete as a senior AP Literature student that has been
drilled with how to write essays all her life. But that wasn’t the point of the trip, I wanted to get
a sense of how Mrs. Martin goes about her editing. She explained to me that she uses the exact
same techniques with the fourth graders as she would with a client, and to be able to witness this
in real time face to face while also being able to insert my own commentary and flex my growing
editor muscles was a huge privilege.
Bailey Bowe

Mrs. Martin’s editing strategies are as follows:
1. Positivity is one of the most important aspects of editing a client’s work. If you don’t
give them any positive feedback it kills the moral of the writer and discourages future
2. With that being said, don’t sugar coat everything. If there is an issue don’t be afraid
to call it out and offer a way to help fix it.
3. Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t make sense to you, chances are it doesn’t to
a lot of other readers.
4. Be specific and detailed with your comments, doing this leads to a better second

While Mrs. Martin generally uses these concepts to edit an official manuscript, as I have
been able to witness her doing, she used these same rules to help the fourth graders learn how to
identify ways to make their essays better overall. She would have the student read aloud what
they have written, then she would take it and comment on all the good things they had done
throughout the essay. Then what needed improvement followed that and she wrapped it up
with an overall positive statement, she called it her positive sandwich formula.
After the lesson ended Mrs. Martin and I traveled to a local Central Market to talk about
my writing (I had sent her two short stories prior to the meeting) and how our mentorship is
going to look moving forward. I was extremely nervous about what she had to say regarding my
stories as these were the first things she had read from me. But she had mostly positive things
to say about it, including my use of language in general and my empathy tactics. I learned that
my weakness was repetition of themes, running them into the ground and causing them to lose
meaning with every repetition. Another thing I needed to work on was when putting my
characters in an impossible situation, letting them react as a normal human would, therefore
keeping the realism intact.
We then turned the discussion to my manuscript. I attempted to describe the overall
plot summary, but considering it is still mostly incomplete it was difficult. However, Mrs.
Martin was still able to give me some great advice from her personal experiences with writing.
The biggest one being to develop my character arcs (a character’s journey from point A to point
B) separately rather than letting them be completely intertwined. This would, again, allow for
the idea to seem more realistic and believable to the reader. We decided that I would start by
giving her a rough outline of the entirety of the novel and then I would send her me work in
small chunks throughout the entire process of writing the manuscript. She also mentioned that
Bailey Bowe

she would be willing to extend this mentorship outside of my ISM career and into college. I was
extremely humbled at this offer and am looking forward to continuing this journey past high
Overall, it has been an incredible opportunity for me to be able to go all the way down to
Austin in order to meet Mrs. Martin. I feel that I have gained a lot of confidence, experience,
and knowledge from the meeting we had and I am looking forward to the future of our