Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rewrite, Revise Pt. 2

In college courses, revision is particularly imperative. There are many great papers which were hurt by a lack of revision. The best protection for good ideas and high grades is revision. Revision begins down at the single-word level. This short essay will seek to explore how writers can begin to tackle these problems at the fundamental level of the word.

This method first involves combing through an essay to eliminate the useless words, redundancies, and other distractions. An earlier essay covered this issue.

Students have been known to use misuse words. This happens quite often in student papers and is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it's something which can be corrected easily enough. 

Papers need to be combed through sentence by sentence. Where unusual or new words have been used, a dictionary can be consulted to check their meaning. Sometimes a word will sound familiar, but "doesn't look right?" Here, a writer may have homonym trouble.

Word processors are wonderful tools for writers to speed up their work, yet spell-check won't catch homonyms. Homonyms are words which sound the same but which have different meanings. Was a reference sited, or was it cited? Was the affair elicit or illicit? Here, a dictionary will help any writer clear up possible confusion.

There are often troubles with the forms of "there."

Their: possessive form of they
They're: contraction of they are
There: indicates a place in a literal or figurative sense - if you're unsure of your usage, consult a dictionary

Chances are that instructors will give students some leeway on these little foibles. It's hard to catch homonyms in particular. However, if the term is a main part of a thesis or otherwise pertinent to the central meaning of a paper, there could be points taken off.

Of course, many students will want to know how to possibly avoid some of these problems. One way is to constantly study words and to build one's vocabulary. Word-of-the-day  calendars can help. Extensive reading will help, as well. Reading more challenging novels or works of nonfiction is a good exercise, if the reader keeps a dictionary handy to look up the difficult words.

In everyday life, a growing writer can keep a small notebook handy for various words or phrases which are unusual, unknown, or simply interesting. Writing these items down will help instill them in the writer's mind and enable her to revisit them later with a dictionary to further study their meaning.

Finally, students need to make good use of the style guide recommended by their institution. These books are dry, boring, and catch a lot of dust. However, they are crucial for the budding writer who is seeking higher grades and more effective communication.

In conclusion, revision begins with the words. They form the basis for all writing and so writers must come to terms with the various trouble these words pose. Further, writers need to come to terms with the full meanings of words in order to fully convey the meanings of their theses.

It sounds simple, it is simple. It is not easy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rewrite, Revise

Writers, take a note. Once you have filled the page-count requirement of your professor's assignment, you are not done!

All good writing has been through multiple drafts. Yours is no exception.

Strunk and White's Rule 17 states, "Omit Needless Words." In fact, this is a great place to start any good revision.

Read through your work and search out those redundant words and phrases. I would start with adverbs. Any word ending in "ly" is a suspect here. What do adverbs do? Adverbs modify verbs and adjectives, among other things. They don't do anything. Adjectives do a bit more, but adverbs are like the guy who shows up two hours late to help you move. He carries a lamp and then sits down to have some pizza. Ask him to go home.

What you need to do when revising is to maximize the clarity of your ideas. When you ideas are clear, your professors will see them and give you credit for them. Plus, these poor souls are overworked in this abysmal economy. More students are heading to school, but there's less money to pay teachers - at least at public schools.

So, do yourself a favor and omit needless words. Clear the brush so that your professors might see your meaning. Your grades will see an improvement as a result.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Essay Writing

Essay writing doesn't come easy. It's a skill which many abhor and few master. Writers need a guide to help master essay writing. 

J.R. Trimble's Writing With Style is something of a classic, though few seem to know it. This book is one of the few books students keep handy from their college days. If you intend on being an effective communicator, this book is simply a must-have.

Trimble assumes a few things. He assumes good grammar and a general facility with writing. For those heading back to school, he may be a bit advanced

However, even the most novice writer can learn from Trimble's example. 

Trimble presents a case that writers write for an audience, that writers need to get out of their heads and show someone else what they're thinking. He argues against a self-centered sort of writing, saying, "Once you've finished writing for your self and begin writing for the reader, your mumbo jumbo will start turning into bona fide prose."

He makes the case for  revision, which is imperative. All writing is rewriting.

So many student essays start in a vague, aimless fashion and then figure out their main thesis on about page five of an eight page paper. Then, around page seven, the author realizes it's time to wrap things up so rushes through a conclusion which is just as vague and aimless as the introduction and then ends.

From that point, it's imperative to revise. Once the reader realizes her true goal with the paper, the whole thing needs to be retooled to fit that thesis.  Indeed, all writing is rewriting.

For a great primer on the art of writing essays, college-level writing, check out Trimble's book. Whether you're at a local university, or continuing education online, this book will be indespensible.

Radical Gratitude | One Life to Give

New Dimensions Media : THE BOUNTY OF A GENEROUS HEART with Andrew Bienkowski

Check out this interview. The book was co-authored by Mary Akers, a Queens U. MFA. The US title is One Life to Give.

The book details the journey of a man from Siberia finding Radical Gratitude and a better life.

“Like Viktor Frankl’s 1946 classic Man’s Search for Meaning, this book has a keen eye for spotting the best of human spirit and endeavor in the most trying of circumstances.”
ForeWord magazine

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MFA Graduate

So, I've completed my MFA. My thesis is all turned in and all is good in the world.

First off, my thesis was composed of 7 short stories and 7 flash fictions. The whole lot was linked by the 1995 Heat Wave in Chicago. I interchanged characters and scenes to accomplish the links. I was happy with it. So was my thesis committee.

Each member of my committee said that the manuscript was a "book." One called it a "novel." Of course all of them suggested changes, which I will work on over time. But, hey, a NOVEL! I was pretty jacked-up to hear that opinion from a well-respected professor and author.

So, life continues after teh MFA. I'm looking for writing/editing gigs, completing this novel, and hoping that I stay afloat long enough to see everything come to fruition.
I should mention that I did my MFA work at Queens University of Charlotte, NC. The instruction there was top-notch and the program was community based despite what I initially would have suspected.

Plus, the program is fully funded! I had student loans for the whole ride!

Market Ranking

I've been referring to Bookfox's list of literary journals lately to find markets to submit my most favorite short stories.

Check out the list: Here

Keep on submitting!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kick It

Hey, Please take a moment to check out my project on Kickstarter. I'm trying to raise funds to help complete my novel:

Again, for the First Time

Chicago Novel

Midwest Novel

It's a linked-short novel which is set in the 1995 heat wave which struck Chicago and the Midwest. Characters are shared throughout the book and scenes reoccur. It's been called "smartly written" and will be a great addition to the literature of Chicago.