Writing the essay

Utilizing a variety of methods, we will focus on various stages in the writing process. Beginning with the basic skills of crafting interesting sentences, we will progress through the effective structuring of coherent paragraphs, and ultimately practice writing the classic five-paragraph persuasive essay. Some assignments will involve the imitation and outlining of the work of established writers from history.  In order to avoid the error of merely discussing essay-writing and never actually writing, there will be ample practice in writing essays. 

This is not merely a writing class, however.  Students will have opportunity to read, savor, analyze, discuss and and enjoy some classics of English Literature.  In that way, our class times will be divided fairly evenly between writing instruction and discussion of the weekly readings.  Please see the link above to view and purchase texts we will be using for discussion in class.


Writing will be assigned nearly every week.  Most assignments will be sent to me for critique.  I endeavor to provide written feedback on them within a week's time.  Some assignments are to be read by the writer to the class.  The tutor and the class will provide feedback at the time of the reading.  (This is great practice that allows students to gain confidence in reading their work to a live audience.)  Some assignments will be sent to a fellow student for critique; and some will be submitted to mom or dad for feedback. Courses will be held in an online classroom using Webex technology. Set up information can be found here.

Cost and Registration

The cost for this tutorial is $330 per semester.  Registration is reserved for families of Alexandria Tutorials until March 20th, at which time registration is open to all families. This class can fill quickly.  Each class is limited to 15 participants.  To register, you may follow this link.

Checks are made payable to Matthew Turnbull and a non-refundable deposit of $50 to reserve your seat is required by August 20th, the remainder is due the first week of class. This deposit is part of first semester tuition. Second semester tuition is due the first week of that semester. Tuition is not refundable after the first month of the semester. 

Please email (tutor.alexandria@gmail.com) Mr. Turnbull for his mailing address.

Course Schedule

This class meets on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., Pacific time. This course will begin in early September.   We will break for a week during Thanksgiving, and we will break for Christmas after class in mid-December.   Class will resume in early January, and end in late May, with a break for a week in March.  This schedule allows for approximately 34 class periods.   This is a year-long class.  Please do not register for the class if you are not able to complete both semesters.  A withdrawal fee will be assessed for students who withdraw in the middle of the year.  

Generally, the tutor is able to meet each week, although there may be exceptions due to illness or family emergencies.  If you know you are going to miss a class, please e-mail your tutor to give him warning.  A recording is made of each class and students who miss a class can keep current by watching the recording when feasible.  Since this is a tutorial I will not issue final grades but will provide comments and feedback on your work. 


True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,--
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
     --Alexander Pope

Of all those arts in which the wise excel,
Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.

    --Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire, "Essay on Poetry"