DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Revision Reflection

            I actually think that I improved on my writing in a few key ways this quarter.  Most importantly, I know to focus more on the clarity of my thoughts.  My essay on Julius Caesar was case-in-point.  My paragraphs were bloated and disorganized.  They read more like intellectual streams-of-consciousness than academic writing.  I had been taught in high school that every body paragraph should be approximately the same length.  Though I knew coming into class that this just isn’t true, the habit of trying to force paragraphs to conform to a certain length stuck.  I ended up writing some long paragraphs that were focused because of their content and other equally long ones that had a variety of content thrown in to make up for discrepancies in length.  Fortunately, the criticism that I received on that paper (as well as my first paper for ENGL 20, which I am also taking) helped me to work on consciously focusing my paragraphs.  I think that I did significantly better on my Hamlet paper and better still on my Othello paper.  I have written four papers in the past week, all of which have focused paragraphs thanks to the criticism that I have received in this class.  This is something I will try to remain conscious about in my writing because I think that the tendency to lose organization is somewhat natural to my writing style.

          Another thing that I focused on was sentence clarity.  I realized that I frequently write in syntactically frustrating sentences.  After reading enough edits and going back over my work, it became apparent that this was an issue.  A major part of my goal in revising was to make sure each sentence was easy to read through.  In particular, my first two essays had a number of sentences that had awkward clauses or strange sentence construction.  I even found a number of sentences which, despite not being marked as syntactically incorrect or awkward, still seemed to have the potential for significant improvement.  Most often this involves cutting a long sentence into two or even three shorter sentences.  This makes the logical progression of each clause much easier to follow.  There are obviously times in which a bunch of short clauses are not ideal, but I’m generally not one to write short sentences.  Therefore, paring down a few sentences for clarity can provide a refreshing rhythm in a paragraph that contrasts with the heavy and cumbersome writing that often comes from trying to put too much into one sentence.

          I also used the conclusion handout to look at my concluding paragraphs.  I often do exactly what the handout warns against in simply summarizing the paper.  That was certainly the case with my paper on Julius Caesar and to a lesser extent with my Hamlet paper.  I tried to make the conclusions a bit more interesting in those two papers by stressing implications and unresolved questions.  I think that the conclusions have improved from their original state, but there is still a lot of room for me to improve in forming interesting, engaging conclusions.  

          The biggest thing that I still need to improve on is the clarity of ideas.  This was particularly true in my Othello paper.  I like to try out difficult ideas or arguments because they are more interesting to think and write about.  As a result, though, I often write things that are confusing or misleading.  The original draft of my Othello paper was definitely a bit difficult to follow.  Even after the revision, I think that the formation of the argument might still need some tweaking.  But I do think that there is an interesting, arguable thesis.  Articulating that into clear terms is my challenge.  I think that one significant way to improve is to use more examples to illustrate points.  I don’t mean provide more evidence, but rather, give arbitrary examples as a rhetorical device.  For instance, I think that the difference in what I mean by incidental symbolic meaning is much easier to understand when I mention replacing Desdemona’s handkerchief with a watch.

          My future goal is to be able to write short, very clear paragraphs that will make my writing easier to read and my arguments easier to follow.  I think focusing at the sentence level, then at the paragraph level, and finally on the level of my thesis will provide the most significant improvement to my writing.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.