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The Writing Process Part 2

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Title: The Writing Process Part 2


1
The Writing Process Part 2
  • Dr Desmond Thomas,
  • University of Essex

2
What does being a successful writer involve?
  • Planning what, when, how, where
  • Monitoring achieving distance
  • Awareness of the writing process of drafting,
    re-drafting, editing, revising
  • Self-motivation
  • Self-discipline

3
Some concepts to unpack
  • Clarity what is clear writing? Does it mean
    coherence at sentence level?
  • Coherence is it something built in to a text or
    in the mind of the reader?
  • Structure how is this different from coherence?
  • Conciseness the same as clarity?
  • Style do the demands of academic style clash
    with clarity coherence?

4
Step 1 Clarity at sentence level
  • Decisions in regard to the administration of
    medication despite the inability of irrational
    patients voluntarily appearing in Trauma Centres
    to provide legal consent rest with a physician
    alone.
  • Our lack of knowledge about local conditions
    precluded determination of committee action
    effectiveness in fund allocation to those areas
    in greatest need of assistance.
  • (See Williams, J. 1995, Style, U.of Chicago)

5
Sentence 1 problems of clarity/coherence
  1. We have to sort out and mentally reassemble
    actions expressed as abstract nouns
  2. Distortion of their underlying sequence
  3. Ambiguity of who does what
  4. Distance between subject and verb
  5. Ambiguity of despite
  6. Grammatical subject not the real subject

6
Sentence 2 problems of clarity/coherence
  • Not clear who the main characters are. The
    subject is an abstraction our lack of
    knowledge
  • Not clear what the main action is precluded?
  • Are we part of the committee or not?

7
The sentences re-written
  • When a patient voluntarily appears at a Trauma
    Centre but behaves so irrationally that he cannot
    legally consent to treatment, only a physician
    can decide whether to administer medication.
  • Because we knew nothing about local conditions,
    we could not determine how effectively the
    committee had allocated funds to areas that most
    needed assistance.

8
Williams principles of clear writing at sentence
level
  • When prose seems turgid, abstract, too complex
    locate the cast of characters and the actions
    that those characters perform (or are the objects
    of). If the characters are not subjects and their
    actions not verbs, then revise.

9
Problem areas?
  1. English has no convenient indefinite pronoun for
    when the agent is unclear. One? We?
    Nominalizations and use of the passive can avoid
    this.
  2. The Institutional Passive some academics and
    teachers in some disciplines want to avoid . I
    will show .. We may cite .We may begin by

10
Step 2 Coherence principles at paragraph level
  • Put at the beginning of a sentence those ideas
    that you have already mentioned, referred to, or
    implied, or concepts that you can reasonably
    assume your reader is already familiar with, and
    will readily recognize.
  • Put at the end of your sentence the newest, the
    most surprising, the most significant
    information information that you want to stress
    perhaps the information that you will expand on
    in your next sentence. (Williams 1995 48)

11
And most important of all
  • A reader will feel that a paragraph is
    coherent if (s)he can read a sentence that
    specifically articulates its point.
  • (Williams 1995)

12
Structure without coherence?
  • Soil is a serious problem in many countries.
    Besides, around 7 million hectares of fertile
    land are lost in the world each year. On the
    contrary, about 10 million hectares of forest are
    being lost. Therefore, the consequences are
    indeed serious .

13
Coherence without structure?
  • The net bulged with the force of the shot. The
    referee blew his whistle and signalled. Offside.
    The goalkeeper sighed with relief. The crowd
    started to jeer. Soon the slow handclapping
    started again

14
Coherence at core chapter level
  • Need for the main points writers position to
    be articulated at the beginning
  • Headings and subheadings should act as a test of
    coherence
  • Need for one idea per paragraph rule
  • Need for topic sentences (usually the first
    sentence(s) of each paragraph)
  • Need for interim summaries at the end of a
    section to reinforce arguments

15
Consequences of breaking the rules of coherence
dont let them happen!
  1. Reader confused doesnt know what to expect
  2. Reader misled expects something different
  3. Reader impatient forced to re-read sections
  4. Reader loses the plot totally misunderstanding
    the main arguments
  5. Reader loses faith and gives up

16
Obeying the demands of style
  • The first attribute of the art object is that it
    creates a discontinuity between itself and the
    unsynthesised manifold.
  • http//www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/dec/0
    4/1

17
A prize-winning text!
  • Dialectical critical realism may be seen under
    the aspect of Foucauldian strategic reversal--of
    the unholy trinity of Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristot
    elean provenance of the Cartesian-Lockean-Humean-
    Kantian paradigm, of foundationalisms (in
    practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and
    irrationalisms (in practice, capricious exercises
    of the will-to-power or some other ideologically
    and/or psycho-somatically buried source) new and
    old alike of the primordial failing of western
    philosophy, ontological monovalence, and its
    close ally, the epistemic fallacy with its ontic
    dual of the analytic problematic laid down by
    Plato, which Hegel served only to replicate in
    his actualist monovalent analytic reinstatement
    in transfigurative reconciling dialectical
    connection, while in his hubristic claims for
    absolute idealism he inaugurated the Comtean,
    Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean eclipses of
    reason, replicating the fundaments of positivism
    through its transmutation route to the
    superidealism of a Baudrillard.
  • Bhaskar, R. 1994 Plato etcThe Problems of
    Philosophy and Their Resolution (Verso)

18
We do need to consider what makes a text look
academic
  • Conventions such as the use of quotations
    referencing, use of statistical and other
    evidence to support arguments, use of hedging.
  • Style preferring abstract nouns to verbs,
    preferring passive voice to active voice

19
But we have to get the balance right
  • Academic style

Clarity coherence
20
Editing issues
  • Check for content
  • Check for structure
  • Check for coherence style
  • Proof-read referencing, spelling, punctuation,
    grammatical accuracy, sentence and paragraph
    lengths, labelling of charts and diagrams,
    bibliography details
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