Writing Workshop Group - TOEGTW Exercise Discussion: Please Read First Post

Discussion in 'Workshop' started by Vertigo, Mar 30, 2012.

  1.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Exercises discussion for the Workshop on The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing

    Please Read This Post First


    For participants of the workshop on The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing. Please use this thread to discuss each other's exercise submissions to avoid cluttering up the actual submission thread.

    This thread is for exercise discussions only.

    Please submit your exercises here

    Please discuss the book here
  2.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    I'll start this off, then. I'm not sure about mine. Like Moonbat, I'm wondering if I've done it correctly. It's certainly a bit ponderous.

    Had some problems with the spacing after cutting and posting as well. I posted out of WordPad, which normally works fine.
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    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    I think the spacing problems have come up from a couple of people on the site, there's a thread on it somewhere.
    It did seem a clunky way to create a paragraph for a fiction writer, using facts. Where I did find it useful was when I was doing my synopsis and my character outlines, and I needed to be a little more disciplined. Rarely, though, would we use only facts in a full paragraph in a book. Or at least, facts without some sort of character involvement/voice. And the consideration of words to use to join the paragraphs were useful.
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    Moonbat

    Moonbat Luna tick

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    Ok, I'm going to have a go at critiquing the exercises posted.
    I'm not sure if this is what we are supposed to do, but there were a few points I noticed in some of the pieces that I felt had either perfectly demonstrated the skill or failed to. So here goes....

    Vertigo Chap 12

    A very well written paragraph with distinct sentences that move the piece forward. Well structured with the problems explained then solutions given, I also like the last sentence with an example that highlights the problems with the no-money system.

    The 5 points in the pre-written paragraph fit nicely into context.

    Springs Chap 12

    Less description in the outline than Vertigo means that the sentences cannot be categorised as easily, but that is not to say that they don't fit with the fewer categories you provided. There are no rhetorical questions, but some well placed key words. Good use of transitional devices. The second point is done well in listing the parties and their relevant stance. But I'm not sure if the third point (reason) quite fits as well with the rest. It is hard to point to what is wrong, but part of the thrid section feels a bit disjointed and not as well organised as the rest of the paragraph, sorry I can't say more I'm having trouble figuring out what, if anything, needs tweaking.

    Abernovo Chap 12

    Well structured outline, the sentences follow a logical path through the topic. With a solid concluding sentence. There are no rhetorical questions. The reasons are defined well and clearly seperated. Good use of transitional devices.


    Chapter 12 is hard to critique with any certainty of what is right or wrong, it is very subjective. I hope what I have said makes sense. I am not confident that I am right and others may disagree.

    Chapter 13 is a little more specific, I am going to re-write the paragraph and highlight each of our transitional devices so that we can see where we agree and where we differ. Again there be no right or wrong, but I feel it is less subjective in this chapter.

    Chap 13

    Vertigo Springs Moonbat

    Above the beginner's level, the important fact is that writing cannot be taught exclusively in a course called English Composition. Writing can only be taught by the united efforts of the entire teaching staff. This holds good of any school, college, or university. Joint effort is needed, not merely to “enforce the rules”; it is needed to ensure accuracy in every subject. How can an answer in physics or a translation from the French or an historical statement be called correct if the phrasing is loose or the key word wrong? Students argue that the reader of the paper knows perfectly well what is meant. Probably so, but a written exercise is designed to be read; it is not supposed to be a challenge to clairvoyance. My Italian-born tailor periodically sends me a postcard which runs: “Your clothes is ready and should come down for a fitting.” I understand him, but the art I honour him for is cutting cloth, not precision of utterance. Now a student in college must be inspired to achieve in all subjects the utmost accuracy of perception combined with the utmost artistry of expression. The two merge and develop the sense of good workmanship, or preference for quality and truth, which is the chief mark of the genuinely educated man.


    Springs are harder to see as Italics don't show up as easily as underline or bold, but there is only one that we all agreed on, 'Probably so'

    As for the rewritten paragraphs.

    Springs

    I thought this was really well done, the use of transitional words at the start of sach sentence kept a flow throughout the whole piece. The use of different words for each transition gives the piece a certain quality and they are all used in the correct way and the proper place.

    Vertigo

    Although you used some of the same transitional words your placement within the sentence means that each sentence doesn't flow as well and it takes a until reading the words that the transition is (for want of a better word) activated. The piece certainly flows better than it orignally did. The use of the semi colon to seperate the two types of exam works well, and it links well later on in the piece.


    Well that is it, for now. I'd like to hear what faults you guys can see in mine, and also what differences (from me) you read in the other's pieces. As I said, I hpe this isn't overstepping the mark, I have tried to be constructive in my critiquing.
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    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    That looks excellent MB I think that's really useful critiquing. I'm a little busy just now but I shall try and do something similar this evening maybe.

    I like your idea of combining all our techniques - though you would be running out of format choices if we had all posted already :)
  6.  
    Moonbat

    Moonbat Luna tick

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    I might have had to resort to colours, and then blends of colours where we all agreed :)
  7.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Rainbow letters; cool :D
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    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    It's really good Moonbat, and I'll try to get to feedback later. I have someone staying with us for the next week, so my time might be a little more limited than usual. I think my ch 12 piece, like you, I didn't pick up it had to go into a paragraph until I saw Vertigo's, and then I sort of cobbled them, and it shows. :eek:

    Vertigo, this might be why the small groupings might be an idea, to control the feedback. We could go by posting date; first 3 work together, then next 3 which will mix it up each time and keep it manageable?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012
  9.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    An interesting idea Springs (though did you mean "small grouping might be an idea?"); I was wondering how this aspect would play out (hence my earlier concerns about group size). On the other hand, personally, I want to get into all of them, but you're right, it might get unmangeable. I'm inclined to let this one play out and see how it goes.

    On another note I'm feeling really quite fired up. I think I'm learning useful techniques already (I am trying to experiment with some in my 300 word challenge so you can tell me if I succeed when I post that :)). Whilst I agree with Springs, there is a problem with the exercises being more fact based than might appear in a novel, I still think the techniques are valid.

    I have tried to use the syntactic patterning thing (I really liked that) to add empahsis in a couple of bits of my 300. And, for example, I could take my piece and, with a few changes, turn it into an explanation in dialogue. Maybe with more than one voice but still presenting the same information with the same need for unity and emphasis.

    On another I think I might skive off work for an hour or so and try and write up a commentary now (can't wait till this evening and I am self-employed - dangerous thought process that).
  10.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    First I’m going to post my commentary on the submissions so far, and then I shall try and post comments on MB’s commentary!

    One interesting observation is that reading two chapters together means that it is almost inevitable that components of ch 13 have been applied to the exercise for ch 12 ie. transitional elements.

    Springs ch 12:

    I found the start of the third sentence a little jarring. I might have linked them with a (eek) semicolon: “; though…” Although that might have created a rather long sentence I don’t think it would be a problem here. I liked the grouping of the parties into three, with very clear distinctions made and particularly the ordering (ch 13!) with the moderates last, balancing the previous two. I did like the “no easy task” J. Your sentence beginning “The elected parties feed…” seemed a bit unconnected. It wasn’t really about the politics but rather the mechanisms of the politics. It felt like it had wandered from your topic sentence. I liked the start of your concluding sentence but the last clause lost me a little. I’m not sure what you are saying in it. Isn’t voting for the lawmakers exactly what they are doing? Or are you making a distinction between Westminster and Stormont?

    Moonbat ch 12:

    I liked your first three sentences and felt they introduced the topic excellently. I did feel the third sentence was somehow still stating the problem rather than a symptom, though I’m probably splitting hairs there. The next four felt a bit staccato; maybe the first three needed an introduction like “There are three main issues…”. “A stable economy is a healthy one” felt like it need further expansion, it seemed rather lost on its own like that, although it does give it emphasis. I liked the concluding three sentences and, despite the book saying to use rhetorical questions with restraint, I liked all three of yours and they all worked for me.

    Abernovo ch 12
    I liked the way you structured the whole paragraph. I’m curious; did you do the plan before or after the paragraph? (Be honest now. J) Either way it came across as being well organised. I particularly liked how you linked many of the sentences together (ok so that’s ch 13 but so what!): That led…; Through this council…; These include…; Likewise…. The concluding sentence was great and the “So, ” announced to me very clearly: here comes the conclusion. I wasn’t sure that the voting issues were completely relevant to the topic and I felt this to be the weakest sentence.

    Ch 13
    I love what Moonbat has done with the transitional devices paragraph. I’m not sure I can add to that except to say it is interesting to see how we have each found different things that helped the transitions for each of us.

    Re-written paragraphs:

    Springs

    I thought you did the transitions really well here but I was not entirely happy about dropping the introductory sentence on Examinations. Maybe if you had said “Now, midterm examinations…” or even “Now, midterm examinations, that cover more ground, come….” It is interesting that you used “therefore” with the “…important” and “Consequently” with the “…student works”, whereas I used exactly the reverse. Actually I swapped these around a couple of times; I really wanted to use consequently for both but that repetition really jarred!

    Moonbat

    I liked the use of “whereas” to link pop quizzes more closely to quizzes than the examinations and, of course, I liked your use of the semicolon for “midterms or finals”. Not sure whether I prefer your positioning of that to my own! I wasn’t quite so happy with your “And so”, particularly used twice. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if you had dropped one of the ‘ands’ or possibly replaced one with a ‘consequently’ or ‘therefore’ (but then I would since I used those words J).



    I need to find more interesting ways of saying "I liked" :eek:

    Incidentally inspired by this I put together a list of about 50 conjunctive adverbs (from wiki and elsewhere). There are obviously loads more but I think it has the most of the more common ones. I can post it here if you are interested.
  11.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    Thanks, Moonbat and Vertigo, for the feedback. I'll give my own critique/feedback, but probably tomorrow. I'll get my Ch 13 exercise done, as well.

    Vertigo, I did the plan before I started and stuck to it, but I have to admit, I did rewrite it at the end to make more sense. Before that, it was a series of jotted down points, some of them just ideas. For instance, evolution, the last point, started out as 'where going, change'. Evolution simply distilled it. That's how I tend to work, putting loads of ideas down, then trying to grow and refine it.

    I agree the voting sentence was the weakest one. I think that was when I wanted a couple more sentences and started to struggle. That's why I thought this exercise was good, in that it forced me to try and describe in a limited number of sentences. Focussed information rather than info-dump.

    Moonbat, I wondered about the lack of rhetorical questions. I struggle with them, always feeling they sound unnatural, whenever I write them. Thanks for raising the point. It's definitely something for me to work on.
  12.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    That's interesting Aber. I thought your analysis was really well structured, so I was wondering if the plan approached had helped with that. I found that aspect very revealing. As I mentioned I have been kicking the "status economy" idea around in my head for a couple of months now but forcing myself to distill it down to a short paragraph made me come at it in a very different way; before, the whole idea was much more rambling and less coherent (that's assuming you did find it coherent now!)

    The rhetorical question is also an interesting... err... question! I suspect it wouldn't work so well in fiction unless, maybe, it is in speech or written in the first person. Any kind of question is a very personal thing, directed at you from someone and I'm not sure it would work as well in a third person narrative.
  13.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Hi, yes, just to clarify the last sentence; the dissolved Stormont executive don't set the laws in NI, although they feed into it, we are governed from Westminster, but unlike most of the other devolved regions of the UK have no opportunity to vote for the westminster parties. Not that very many would, but it might be nice to be asked... maybe not that clear, but I'm also aware it's a thorny issue which can cause offence, so perhaps I sat on the fence a little.

    The intro sentence on exams; I thought I'd do a drip drip of info rather than block it all at the beginning, but I'm not entirely sure it worked.
    I'm surprised how different they are given that the same basis was used.
  14.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Ah, I honestly had no idea that was the case Springs. I feel a right dingbat for not knowing! The sentence makes perfect sense now!:eek:

    I thought the same, I really looking forward to seeing more of them.
  15.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    No, it's a good example of an assumption of the writer having knowledge and thinking the reader does, too. My bad....:eek:
  16.  
    Glen

    Glen Who are you people?

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    Right, I've posted my homework!

    Thanks Vertigo for putting this whole thing together. It really helps to make sure I do the exercises. Otherwise I think I would just have skipped these when reading the book. Also, it is a good book. Quite pacey - despite the subject matter!

    I'm already finding the discussion thread a bit daunting though. Very long posts! I did some on-line education last year and I thought I would share some of the things we did there to see if they help us with this exercise. See what you think:

    • Short posts, no more than 200 wds. We lost credit for going over, it made for a pacey conversation, and prevented info-dumping - i.e. no need to cover everything yourself - let someone else pick up the thread and take it to the next step
    • threads for each topic, e.g. we might have a thread for each exercise, or each chapter, that way we could do things in bite-size chunks.
    • Largish groups of about a dozen, that way if someone is off-line due to illness, malaise, vacation, brain-fade etc the conversation still goes on.
    • Lots of questions and prompting for others thoughts. Makes for short posts and encourages flow. The course strongly emphasised "dialogue" over debate or discussion.
  17.  
    Glen

    Glen Who are you people?

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    It was interesting to note the different transitional devices used in the rewrites of the 13B exercise.

    Springs using link words (are these conjunctive adverbs? p. 101): Some, Alternatively, Now, Therefore, Consequently.

    Whereas Vertigo set up a master plan! (p. 98). I think moonbat and myself have done the same.

    It seems to make a difference to how the paras read. Springs, with the links seems conversational and accessible, as if one student is explaining to another. Whereas, in contrast, mine sounds like a pompous college prospectus. :0)
  18.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Which means your's is best suited to the purpose, and this is where I need to take some learning from; suiting the writing to the subject, instead of telling it all like a story.

    Choccoweebie; I thought your paragraph was good, it dealt with a lot of material, but read smoothly.

    Already from this post, I'm seeing that I'm obsessed with smoothness over information giving, and need to improve on combining the two. Good call, this, Vertigo.
  19.  
    Glen

    Glen Who are you people?

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    Well it depends on what you think the purpose is. I thought yours read better, and would work better on a college prospectus because of its tone. Whereas I thought mine was the kind of para that folk skip over, and was thinking of how I might start using links instead of setting the scene first.

    The learning for me is that different types of para unity perhaps offer different tones that we can use as needed.
  20.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    A few quick notes on the exercises. I have gone over 200 words on this, Glen, but I think it might be a good goal to set myself in the future.

    Vertigo

    Ch12. It read well, flowing with good links. The only sentence I wondered about was the final example, which I felt stood a little bit more on its own.

    Ch13. I thought the conjunctions worked well. However, I think this is a more difficult piece to jduge (if that's the right word). We're correcting another's work but, I suspect, coming up with variations on a theme when it comes to making it flow.

    Springs

    Ch12. It works as a concise overview of the politics in Northern Ireland and the sentences followed on from each other well.

    Ch13. Again, very good linking of the sentences. I liked the conversational tone, for example in the midterm sentence, beginning it with 'now'.

    Moonbat

    Ch12. It flowed really well and I thought the rhetorical sentences at the end made for a good conlcusion to lead onto further study, were this a real sccenario.

    Ch13. This too flowed well, improving on the original, but keeping its flavour.

    Chocco

    Ch12. It moved easily from sentence to sentence and I liked the structure. Perhaps, as you said, a little unwieldy in length, but I never lost my way, so maybe not.

    On a personal note, I studied environmental economics. We might have to chat some day. ;):)

    Glen

    Ch12. I really liked how you opened the paragraph with pace and then kept it flowing from there. The only thing I would ask is did you write out a plan? I think this exercise works for me, partly as it demonstrates how we come at things in different ways, so I'd be interested to see how you planned it. But, that's just my own point of view.

    Ch13. Breaking the tests into two types worked well.

    A final note. As I said above, I like how this shows different methods to achieve the same goal. As to Springs and Glen, I thought you both had an easy conversational feel. I know my writing, fiction and reports (which have been my bread and butter), can be a little staid. I could do with emulating your conversational style sometimes, probably your pace as well, Glen.

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