This checklist will help if your blog is not up to date. All of the prompts below are on the schedule or the classwork page. Thank you for organizing your exercises by title and date. Also, make sure that you complete the sentence exercise that was due during our conference week. The guidelines are on the schedule page and are also included below.
You are required to write a blog post on style each week. These short essays (in the form of a blog post) are due each Monday. You should have a minimum of seven posts by the time you leave for spring break.
In Class Work
Exercise on building sentences using subordination and coordination 1) Build examples of the subordinating style (“Hypotaxis”). Begin with a “when clause” and build a sentence 2) Build a sentence with the basic “although . . . yet” structure. Build three or four sentences, of different kinds, using coordination.
In-Class Exercise on Conciseness This class session is dedicated to practicing the art of conciseness: reducing the unnecessary words (redundancies, metadiscourse, qualifiers, and so on) to create more concise and direct prose. All of the writing below was written by a student for one of my classes or for one of my class projects. Cut and paste the original assigned to your group into a document. Work individually on a second version of the original. Compare your revisions in groups and produce a final version that we will read aloud in class.
In-Class Exercise on Discourse: Identify a speech or discourse community and analyze the specific ways language is used by members of that particular social group or community. Identify a speech or discourse community. Look closely at the language used by the group and build a descriptive account of the significant features and stylistic resources of members of that group. Post your account on your blog with a title that makes clear to a reader the discourse community that you have identified and are describing.
Exercise on Sentence Construction Starting out with one of the brief sentences, expand the sentence until it can expand no more. See if you can get to 20. Your sentence needs to be grammatical, and make sense, but other than that, you can add any information you choose. Likely, the sentence will end up telling its own rather complete story. Once you have composed your sentences, publish them on the “Exercises” page of your blog.
Thirteen Ways of Using a Comma: Compose your own paragraph with each of the thirteen comma uses in the sequence you compiled in completing the practice exercise on page 191 of Style and Difference. Post the paragraph, with a title and date, on the exercises page of your blog.
Two Four Six Eight: Write a paragraph that makes use of the following marks of punctuation: Two different examples of a comma (the speed bump); Two different examples of a period (the stop sign); Two different examples of a semicolon (the bridge); Two different examples of a colon (the magician). Your paragraph will use the examples correctly, and will be written with an emphasis of clarity and style. That is, each use of punctuation should be appropriate to the sentence and the paragraph. Describe each of the uses after the paragraph. Post the paragraph and commentary, with a title and date, on the exercises page of your blog.
Homework Assignments (“For Next Time”) from the Schedule page
Post a paragraph or excerpt from a writer whose style you admire and a paragraph that appears to you to have very ineffective or poor style
Post a brief answer to question 18 on page 273 of Style and Difference
Answer the last question on page 43 in A Dash of Style (it asks you to use the principles you’ve just learned and apply them to one page of something you have written—either a creative piece or an academic paper.) Post the original and the revised version on your blog
Find something you have written and analyze one page for sentence variety. How many different kinds of sentence styles do you see, or are they mostly subject/verb/object? You don’t need to revise—just analyze
Do the exercise under “Practice” on page 191 in Style and Difference and post on your blog
Using a page of your own writing, choose one of the exercises on pages 85-86 in A Dash of Style and complete it and post the assignment prompt and the result on your blog
Do the exercise on page 109-10 in A Dash of Style and post on your blog. Write a brief reflection on your experiments with the colon. What have you learned by doing these exercises?
Do the exercise on page 202-203 in Style and Difference and post on your blog
Locate, on your own, a poem you find interesting and discuss the choices the author made regarding the stanza breaks. What is the effect of the stanza breaks in particular places in the poem? How might this principle be applied to your own writing, even if you are not writing poetry?
Locate a piece of writing (either by a published writer or yourself) and, using Gorrell’s ideas in this chapter, discuss how emphasis and rhythm is achieved (or, if it is not, show how it could be.) Post the example and your discussion on your blog.
Do the exercise on pages 74-75 of Style and Difference and post the results on your blog
Take a page from something you wrote or are currently writing and apply the principles of conciseness to it and post the results on your blog with a brief commentary about the changes you have made and why
Read Part Four, “A Few Good Rules” in Style and Difference (225-261) and post on the “Exercises” page of your blog three examples of public writing (published writing, online writing, signs, etc.) that violate these rules/principles. If you have trouble with this assignment, read the chapter “Break the Rules” (154-59) and browse the chapters that follow in Christopher Johnson’s Microstyle for useful examples of rule breaking.
Find a sentence that you consider to be “good” or “effective” (or “amazing,” whatever term suits you). Then post on your “Exercises” page a description of how to read and appreciatewhat the sentence is doing. You will be writing a few of these, and so I recommend that you have a look at how Fish does this kind of descriptive analysis. For example, look at his writing on pages 90-97. We can learn from Fish, too, about the vocabulary we can develop to do this kind of work. Learning to read sentences as “performances” is difficult to do at first; but you will get the hang of it and, I hope, learn to enjoy this kind of reading
Read Fish “The Subordinating Style” (45-60) and “The Additive Style” (61-88). As I say above, attend to (and learn from) how Fish sees and describes these sentences and then 1) choose a sentence you admire that exemplifies the subordinating style. Write your own 300-500 word descriptive analysis of the sentence and 2) choose a sentence you admire that exemplifies the additive style. Write a 300-500 word descriptive analysis of the sentence