Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Is Style Pt. 2

Style has to do with the choices that a writer makes in his work. For the most part, style comes naturally. It is something that is enhanced and fine-tuned over the course of many works--the more the better. I think that style may be somewhat of a conscious thing; writers are aware of the decisions they are making, but a lot of it comes naturally.

When talking about writing, style would obviously have a lot to do with word choices. So many different words can be used to make a point and the fact that those words are chosen at the discretion of the writer helps define his style. Using those words to elaborate on a subject also means choosing a direction in which to approach that subject. "Recount the process of creating a 3-panel comic" can be a task that some writers choose to do step-by-step, or out of order--while jumping from point to point. Essays are different in their formatting, as well as the more obvious word choices.

Through writing multiple essays for this course and reading other people's essays during peer review, the issue of different styles is reiterated. Just as reading several works by the same author reveals their personal style, going through drafts of a classmate's essay makes it evident that though the essay has been revised, it is still written in the same style. There is a constant mood that is set by the writer that his reader can feel.

In writing for this class and reading the material, I have thought more on the subject of personal writing style than ever before; I thought more about my own style in one week than I ever had. I have learned that style is something that should be encouraged, as long as it does not overlap into the territory of what is supposed to come from the essay. Certain points must be made and guidelines must be followed--it is how those guidelines are approached that defines a writer's style.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Final Peer Review

The final edition of peer review echoed the sentiments of most of the students at the end of the semester-- enough already! Not that I dont find this process to be a helpful one, but I think that most of us are nearing the end of our fuel reserves. Our group had 4 people, including me, and only one of us (not me) posted a finished, 1500 word essay the day peer review was to begin. Everyone posted something--an outline or good start to the essay--but finishing it was another story. I know its pretty much a cliche by now, but we are all really busy this time of year, and sometimes sacrifices are made.

Apart from the partial essay postings, the peer review went alright. My group posted some really good work, that I enjoyed reading and helping with. My 3/4 of the way finished essay received some good reviews that will help me a lot.

As with my last blog posting concerning peer review, I still like GoogleDocs the best. I still think that the features are the most helpful and user-friendly. The most useful part about peer review is the opinions of other students going through the same process that you are. Sounds kind of vague, but comparing 3 other people's comments about something that I wrote really helps make revision decisions. Comments from a professor are one thing, granted he/she is usually more knowledgable than students, but multiple opinions are more helpful.

The least useful thing about peer review is the half-ass comment. "Good job" is nice to hear, but it would be more helpful if the person described what was good about it, and maybe how to make it better.

One thing that I learned during this process was to not be afriad of hurting someone's feeling when reviewing their work. Realistically, they want your opinion, whether or not it means more work for them. At the same time, I also learned that there is a good way to go about criticism; by being constructive and offering advice on how to clean something up. There is also a bad way; by trying to sound like an angry English teacher--no offense Professor Krause, I said angry English teacher. Scolding someone os not a good way to get them to listen to you and take your advice. A person is more likely to write you off and not take your advice.

Overall, I liked the process. Once I figured out that everyone has their own style of reviewing, and to make use of the helpful ones you do get, it made more sense. Like many things, by the time it is over, you finally get the hang of it.