Thursday, November 03, 2005

Can you follow my thinking?

Organization--- Flow-- Order of things... a "discovery draft"--- I can't help but wonder if all of these terms are connected some how. Do you think the students that are having difficulty with their organization are also having difficulty saying what it is they are trying to say?

On Buffy (I wouldn't refer to another Buffy episode, but you guys liked it so much last time.... so here you go...)--- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season seven ( I think the episode is called "touched") Spike is trying to tell Buffy that he loves her for who she is but he doesn't know how to say it and if he really should tell her at this time, it being the end of the world--- again--- and all:

Spike: You're insufferable.
Buffy: ... thank you. How is this supposed to cheer me up?
Spike: I'm not trying to cheer you up.
Buffy: Then what are you saying?
Spike: I don't know!--- I'll know after I'm done saying it...

Like Spike, I think that some writers don't know what they are saying until they've gotten half-way through their draft or to the conclusion. I think that when helping with organizational problems, we need to keep this in mind. I think some writers write their thoughts out almost word for word. Ideas, thoughts and experiences link easily when thinking. Writing them out can be difficult. How do you help a reader follow your thoughts? I think that is what organization is supposed to do. Some writers cannot figure out the best way to tackle the task of helping a reader follow thier ideas. A solution? Writing it out, and talking it out.

Often times when I come across an awkward sentence or a paper that has, what appears to be, little organization, I try talking with the student. I ask questions and try to decifer what the paper is saying, keeping in mind what the writer has told me about his or her ideas. Most the time, if not every time, what the student says is better than what is written. Why is that? Has the student finally figured out what it is that he or she wants to say?

When I write a draft, I usually have an idea of how I want to present my ideas. But sometimes, I have to admit, I just sit down and write. I don't mean to find out what I what I am saying until the conclusion of my paper, but sometimes it ends up that way. Sometimes I just don't know what I'm saying until I've said it. Do you think we might have students come into the Writing Center who do this too? I have met a couple. They say they are worried about "flow" and if "anyone else will understand" what they are saying. What should tutors say to these writers? How do we tell them that their draft doesn't make sense until the ending or midway through the paper? How should we help students with their organization--- help students to help readers follow their ideas??--- I say we talk to them. Talking things out really can help. And then, once they say what they want to say, then we can help them write it.


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