Posted by: Alexandra McKnight
This piece began with our X1 writing about an object. The dog tags were the central focus of the paper. I received some good feedback on that original paper but no one thought it was capable of being expanded upon.
Then I combined my X1 with my X2, which was about an event. I attempted to find a transition that was logical and that also effectively shifted the attention away from the dog tags. I failed with the smooth transition. At this point I sought outside counsel on how to improve my transition because I was not fond of the ideas being suggested.
In my second revision of the piece I did some major rearranging of the latter half of the piece (where the confusion/abrupt transition was) and I added a new section. It had been suggested that my previous ending could be considered a new climax. I worked with this thought and consequently developed a new section.
This piece began as I sat down to write my X3. I had no idea what I was going to write about and it was already 10 o’clock in the evening. Inspiration came when I looked around my room- procrastinating, of course-and saw my tin foil man hanging on the lamp above my head. He represents a campus culture of weird art, and he’s the creation of a quirky and lovable friend of mine. Through many drafts, I included more details on how and why my friend decided to make these foil men. I’ve also tried writing more anecdotally in order to invite the reader in the story. In this last draft, I’ve included a new section on Beth Doyle, and tried weaving pictures of the aluminum men and the words together.
Over the course of the last month, I have written multiple drafts of my X1. In my first draft, I focused on responding to the prompt. I recalled an odd and funny experience this summer. I was fortunate to have the class’s input on my initial draft. Professor Harris drew attention to the way I shift between paratactic and hypotactic language, and how I use these shifts to convey my story. In my second draft, I tried to optimize my paratactic language in order to better capture the “in-the-moment” moments. In thinking about how to highlight these parts, I started to experiment not only with the sentence structure and word choice—adding short, staccato sentences and simple words—but I also played around with the physical design of the words on the page to create a sense of movement. My piece, after all, is action-based. With feedback from my peers, I decided to cut down my piece in my third draft. I scraped the introduction and cut down the reflection in order to focus on the action. However, for my fourth draft, I decided that I had cut out too much of the setup and description. The reader was getting lost in the paratactic language and needed an anchor. I added transitions and an opening to help guide the reader. I also cut out certain paratactic and design features when I thought they were excessive.
Posted by Joe Harris
Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
~James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson
Your first major project for this course is due next week, at 11:00 AM, on Tues, 10/19. While you are of course free to continue to develop your line of thought and writing, I also want you to focus at this point on refining the form of your essay—to make sure, that is, that you present your writing as professionally and imaginatively as you can.
In doing so, you may find it useful to think about tone (your stance towards your reader), clarity (your account of your subject), and design (the look and format of your document). This may be a good time to share your work with readers outside of this class—friends, Writing Studio consultants, anyone whose opinion you value. I am also setting aside time on Mon, 10/18, and Tues, 10/19, if you’d like to talk more with me about your piece.
I’d also like you to add three sections to your essay:
- A title;
- A note of acknowledgments, at the end of your piece, in which you thank the people who have helped you with it;
- A brief “process note” (no more than 250 words) in which you trace the evolution of your piece—drafts, responses, major changes in revision, etc.
Finally, I want you to prepare your actual document with care. Your piece should be copy-edited meticulously and formatted thoughtfully. (See Design Elements for some thoughts on format.)
Please save your final document as a PDF. Post your “process note” to the website and attach your project to your post. (This will let everyone in the class read what everyone else has written. I will respond privately, though, to your project by email.) Pleas use a short form of your essay title as the title of your post and Project One as your category.And please bring a print copy of your essay with you class on Wed, 10/20.
Good luck! I look forward to reading your work!