Monday, October 28, 2013

Three Rules of Writing

Every day, when I read my students' journals, I am encouraged and amused by the ideas that they share with me in their writing. They are creative, thoughtful - well, sometimes - and often even passionate writers. They share about their weekends, about boyfriends and girlfriends, family life, friends, football games, jobs, birthdays, chores, and many other topics in addition to the assigned ones (they're allowed to freewrite for the second half of the page if they want to, and each Friday I assign a freewrite rather than a topic).

Then I assign an essay. *sigh*

It's like they think that for any 'real' writing, all of a sudden I'm not interested in hearing their ideas anymore. What I'm looking for is the 'right answer' or a re-phrasing of whatever my own opinion is. In vain do I entreat them to share their own thoughts, supported with examples and facts from their reading or their own lives.

So I came up with my Three Rules of Writing:

  1. Don't confuse me. If I can't understand what you're saying, how in the world are you ever going to convince me that your ideas have merit?
  2. Don't bore me. If you don't care about what you're writing, why should I? Include specific details and description to make what you're writing about seem real to me!
  3. Don't lie to me. Not everything you write has to be factual, but it does need to be truthful. Don't write what you don't believe.

My sophomores are working on a research paper. We'll see if that little lecture sinks in at all...


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