February 4, 2008 Archives

Assigned Text:

Foster (2, 3, 5)

The full text of this out-of-copyright story by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available online.

To do the RRRR (Read, React, Respond, Reflect) sequence:

  1. Read the assigned text. http://jerz.setonhill.edu/resources/texts/fitzgerald_fs_bbhh/index.html
  2. React by posting an agenda item (quote and brief comments) ON YOUR OWN BLOG, about 24 hours before class meets.

    On this page, type your chosen quotation and include a link to your blog entry. You can just paste the URL after your quote, or you can add a few lines explaining your response to your quote.

    Note -- pay attention to the URL that you post on this page.

    Your URL should look something like the following:

    The following link is not specific enough. Your reader will have to hunt for the specific page.

    A link like the following is only useful to you, because it points to your editing pages -- your readers will find it useless.
  3. Respond: Before class meets, post 2-4 comments on agenda items that your peers have posted to their own weblogs. (If you have been asked to look at 2 separate readings, then I am asking for 4-8 comments.)
  4. Reflect: Bring to class a half-page reflection paper, that names a student whose agenda item made you see the assigned reading in a different way. I will occasionally, but not always, collect the reflection papers. If you wish, you may do your half-page reflection at the same time you write your agenda item -- but that should mean doing them both early, rather than waiting to post your agenda item until the night before or the morning of the class discussion.
  5. Recommended: An optional 5th step. You are welcome to post your half-page reflections on your blog, with a link to the classmate's blog. 

This is listed as 1 "WR1 (Ex 1-1D)" in Turnitin.com.

The purpose of this exercise is for you to call attention to the most significant changes that you made when you revised Ex 1-1. Quote passages from the "before" and "after" versions, and explain why you made the changes that you made.

Both telling and showing are important ways of communicating; however, experienced writers recognize the power of showing.

  • Telling: Richard walked into a room full of zombies.
  • Telling: Richard noticed the unlocked door, peeked inside cautiously, and was horrified to discover a room full of zombies.
  • Telling: "Mr. President, I'd like you to meet the geniuses behind the Xavier Institute," said Richard. He threw open the door, revealing a room full of rampaging zombies.

The last one is actually fairly effective -- as long as it doesn't go on to say "Richards was surprised, since he didn't expect the zombies to be there."  Or "Richard was horrified by what happened next." 

No I was so thrilled that I beat the football captain in a chess game that I made a fool of myself. I'll never live that down.

This is straight telling -- we know that the protagonist makes a fool of himself, but we don't feel embarrassed for him, because we don't see any of this foolish behavior ourselves.  
Maybe My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was pumping. When I finally beat that big bully of a football captain in a chess game, I jumped around like an idiot, taunting him and laughing at him in front of the whole school. Arrogance and geekiness are not a combination that leads to social success.

While the author has added details, those details merely assist the telling -- they don't actually show anything important. We still don't get the chance to see the behavior and judge for ourselves whether it is foolish.
Yes "Your bulging muscles are useless against my superior intellect!" I laughed, as the vanquished football captain and the whole cafeteria stared. "I have captured your queen, and in three moves, I shall utterly destroy your king's little white plastic ass! Bwaaa ha ha hah!"

The completely over-the-top content of the quoted speech communicates the protagonist's emotional state as well as his arrogance; the author does not have to come out and tell us that this behavior is idiotic, because there are enough details that we can come to that conclusion ourselves.

See also: Show, Don't (Just) Tell
Due Today:

Ex 1-1C: Revision

This is listed as item 1a, "Revision 1" on Turnitin.com. Revise Ex 1-1a, based on feedback you have received from peers, from me, and from the lessons you find in workbooks 1 through 3.

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