Writer At Work The Essay In Praise

“Carol knows how to help writers find and then shape the essential in their work. She understands what makes a good story. Her talent for narrative structure shows in her consulting, her teaching and her own work, which she approaches with intelligence and humor.”

— Corey Campbell, Writer and Creative Writing Program Coordinator at Arizona State University

“Carol Test is a consummate professional and a pleasure to work with. Her insightful guidance was extremely helpful in pinpointing areas to develop in my manuscript. The hallmark of Carol’s approach is character development. Her exceptional use of the elements of writing is spot on. Her advice is worth its weight in gold!”

— Isabella Maldonado, Crime Series Author, three-book deal with Midnight Ink

“Working with Carol Test at The Writing Cycle has made an amazing impact on the quality of my fiction writing. Her editing style is clear and concise.  But Carol does far more than edit; she is dedicated to elevating a writer’s tradecraft to the next level.”

— Patricia Bonn, Mystery Writer, Author of Lucky 13


“I have worked with Carol in both group and one-on-one settings. I came to her to critique my novel because she is imaginative, thoughtful, and humane. You can trust your prose to her; she’ll make it better in ways you will understand and enjoy.”

— Sheila Grinell, MBA and Author of Appetite

“Carol is a rare and wonderful find. Her editing and coaching style is the perfect blend of practical application, gentle nudging, sharp observation and an intuitive sense of story that amaze. She is incredibly generous with her time, her creative insight and her deeply detailed feedback. “

—   Gretchen Clark

“Every single one of Carol’s lecture’s electrified me. I left each creative writing class excited to go home and write. The way she broke down the creative and revision processes really helped to dissuade my anxieties about writing. The texts we read together were wonderful. The revision exercises and workshops were extremely helpful. I loved this course.”

—   ASU creative writing student, 2014

“I have known and admired Carol for more than ten years now, since we were together at graduate school, both pursuing masters in fiction writing. Since that time I have deeply admired her craft and her imagination, her commitment to the life of the mind, the breadth of her reading, and the intelligence of her conversation.

In workshops at the University of Arizona, and afterwards, as she has continued to read my work in draft, I have found her perceptions and comments regarding my work to be razor sharp, delivered with great good will and with humor, and cutting to the heart of the matter. Both as a reader and as a writer, Carol is exceptional.”

— Daniyal Mueenuddin, Author of National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize Finalist In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

“Carol is a fantastic teacher of craft. I still quote her tips on creating juicy dialogue, dynamic storylines, and brilliantly flawed characters. She’s great at pushing writers to reach higher levels of complexity and emotional nuance in our work, no matter our level of writing experience. Also, her editorial background enables her to really pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in our work and help us to polish our pieces into publication-ready drafts.

Carol is always able to bring a sense of humor into her consulting and teaching; she can even put fun into grammar, punctuation, and bad dialogue. Even though I was a published writer before working with her, Carol showed me how much I still had to learn.”

—  Sandra Yee, Author and MFA

“Carol has helped guide me through several drafts of my novel. From the first meeting, she has consistently brought a high quality, deep thinking approach to the work at hand. As a result, my manuscript has increased in complexity and depth. I recommend Carol to anyone for writing or editing feedback and will continue to rely on her in the future.”

—Alec Hillbo, Attorney at Ogletree Deakins

“Ms. Test was far and away the best fiction instructor I have ever had at my time at Arizona State. She focused on the real crunch and mechanics of writing, not just the ideas. I felt that my writing improved greatly even from the first week. All feedback given by the instructor was actionable, improving my writing further.”

— ASU creative writing student, 2014

“I have taken two excellent fiction workshops from Carol. The best part of her classes is her extensive verbal and written feedback on our fiction. She has a knack for envisioning what each writer is trying to accomplish with a piece of writing, enabling her to pinpoint what’s working and what’s not and to provide specific suggestions on everything from the overall style and direction of a piece down to sentence structure and word choice. She backs up her suggestions with illustrative examples from published writing in a wide variety of genres. 

Carol seems to genuinely want to contribute to the success of other writers. As a bonus, she has a great sense of humor that not only makes working with her fun, but also puts writers at ease when critiquing and being critiqued.”

—Jennifer Banks, Owner, CrossDot Writing Solutions

“Carol has a brilliant mind and you will never be disappointed with the product she delivers. She brings a deep level of experience to the work she provides. I have worked with her at Sonora Review and as a freelance writer for SheKnows, LLC, and we have also collaborated on literary projects. In both academic and corporate environments, her organizational skills and creativity set her apart.”

— Erin Kilian, PhD, Author

“Carol is an exceptional editor and writing coach.

She is a scholar and inspiring mentor, providing literary guidance, supportive critiques and practical acumen that has motivated me to expand the scopes and creative elements within my writing – and to publish my work.

Carol is an accomplished literary artisan herself yet has the range, patience and experience to work with novice as well as advanced writers.

It is a pleasure to work with Carol and highly endorse her for your writing projects.”

— Peter L. Pingerelli, Ph.D., Professor at Western International University, Author

“Carol is an astute and professional editor, current on all standard industry formats and knows what agents and publishers are looking for.

I’ve also had the pleasure to attend a few of Carol’s personal presentations to audiences. She truly motivates writers who have found themselves stuck in the revision process or lost during their quest to publication.

I recommend Carol Test highly.”

— Deborah J Ledford, Suspense Thriller Novelist – 2014 Anthony Award Nominee for Best Audio Book, CRESCENDO, narrated by Christina Cox.

“Carol Test is a skilled and creative writer and teacher. She possesses the unique ability to develop rapport with others, while acutely identifying individual strengths to help writers develop and fine-tune their craft. In addition, it was a pleasure and a great learning experience to have Carol as a college writing professor and to later work with her in a one-on-one setting for almost a year. Her ability to efficiently and effectively organize our time and provide feedback on my writing, while also coaching and mentoring me toward the completion of my novel, WATERSHED, was remarkable. She was always prepared with feedback and encouragement as well as concrete and specific needs to be address in my writing. I highly recommend Carol to help others with their writing projects.”

—   Trish Dolasinski, Ed.D.


“Carol’s knowledge of creative writing, her experience in the field and her use of effective teaching tools provided me the confidence and skills to take my concept/idea and turn it into a legitimate novel. Her instructions, suggestions, concepts and advice are clear and on point, providing the framework to successfully approach my writing project. Carol is an amazing consultant and an incredible talent.”

— Benjamin Placencia

“I have taken three of Carol’s fiction writing workshops at Phoenix College over the years. She is an excellent teacher. She takes writing concepts and breaks them down so even the novice writer can understand and apply them to their own writing. Her lectures are clear and concise, and the assignments she gives writers are always given to help each improve their skills. I have done some of my best work under her tutelage.”

— Robin Ferguson

“Carol is my go-to person for editing services. She provided a comprehensive edit of my doctoral dissertation in 2009, after which my committee approved it with enthusiasm. Carol is timely, thorough and fun to work with as well. When we work together, I am never disappointed, and you won’t be, either!”

—   Melissa Lewis-Duarte, Ph.D.

“Carol’s editing abilities and feedback on writing are exceptional. She has a passion for her subject and is very respectful of student writers. Her classes are structured to encourage students to take workshopping seriously, and her supplementary writing assignments are remarkably helpful.”

— Phoenix College creative writing student, 2009

When you are helping your child in the revising stage of writing, be ever so careful with your criticism. If you are  like me, you breeze over all the strong things in the assignment and narrow in on the errors and the weaknesses.

I do see the positive aspects, but I tend to only verbalize the negative aspects. It’s part of my “hurry up and get cracking” attitude:   Let’s get these problems fixed so we can move on. But in doing so, I’m neglecting a really important part of the writing process.

Sprite needs to hear exactly what are the strong points of her writing as well as hear about the weaker parts.

Why?

1. It’s a confidence booster and an attitude improver.

2.  She may not even realize those are strong points. Those things may have happened accidentally. By pointing out the positive aspects, she is more likely to repeat them and understand why they are so important.

In order for the praise to work it must be two things:

Just saying, “This is good” isn’t very helpful. The praise needs to tell exactlywhat was good.

Here are some examples of specific praise you can use.

  • This thesis statement is very clear. When I read it, I know exactly what your essay will be about.
  • This paragraph is full of details. This one even made me laugh. This one gave me a clear image in my mind.
  • Your introduction really grabbed my attention. I wanted to keep reading.
  • This transition word is perfect for shifting to the next main idea.
  • I love how you wrapped up all the main points at the end. Your clincher was very strong.
  • Great use of comma and a conjunction to join to independent clauses!
  • This is a superb word choice.
  • Wow, there are no run-on sentences in this entire essay.
  • You didn’t get tricked by the its/it’s thing. Good job!

Notice my praise included conceptual elements (details, introduction), structural elements (transitions, thesis statement), and mechanics (its/it’s, run-ons). All are part of the written product, and all deserve some feedback.

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Filed Under: language artsTagged With: feedback, praise, writing, writing process

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