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This Week in College Writing

February 28, 2014

After teaching them my narrowed-down list of characteristics of all good writing (COCOC: Clear, Organized, Coherent, Original, Correct [as in grammatically]), I teach them the characteristics of good narrative writing (action, detail, conflict, tension, dialogue, logical order of events, a point to it all, a meaningful and appropriate point of view). I work hard to portray writing as both technical and sensual. I assign them personal essays. They write into problems they didn’t realize they were having and write out of them again. They revise to add dialogue and convert summary to scene. They peer review. Then they question me. How could a meaningful and appropriate point of view be anything but “I” in an essay like this? How?

I show them “Man on the Tracks” by Erika Anderson.

“Oh,” they say. “Oh wow. Oh my god. Did that happen? Here?” They just moved here, most of them, to the city, some from far, some from very very far overseas. “Oh wow. Wow.” They read in silence. They stop asking about point of view. They say goodbye to each other when class is over. “Have a good weekend,” they say to each other and to me. “See you Monday,” I say, and add, like I do every time, “Same time. Same place. I’ll be here.”

From → Teaching

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