What’s Your Point?

What is your point?

Rude as it sounds, the question “What’s your point?” reminds writers that communication always has a purpose. We don’t write merely to put words on paper. We want to express a thought, an idea, an opinion, a feeling, even an irony, and we want someone else to understand what we’re saying. For example, the point that an image makes (whether visual or textual) must be clearly constructed. The potential irony of the two signs to the left is clear from their juxtaposition. Most handicapped persons are not going to be riding skateboards.

Reflective Writing:

Even reflective writing, which is more internal or inner-directed and often wandering, comes down to a point or maybe even several points. The mind prefers order, so even in free-write mode, a writer is brought around to the point that is driving the reflection.

The Reader:

When we bring the reader into the picture (and the reader is always hovering over our shoulder), then we must hone our point to be sure that our readers gets it and does not mistake it for some other. Ultimately, interpretation always belongs to the reader, so the writer’s job is to shape the interpretation of the text in the direction that he or she wants it to go. Clarity here is the key.

Get to the Point:

So, use your free-writing to get the ideas flowing and then analyze what you have written to be certain your main idea or point is clear. Move the clutter from around it. Make the point early on. Don’t confuse your reader about what you’re trying to say. Get to the point.

Revising Is a Layered Affair

The Revision Button: In teaching writing, I’ve noticed that, early on, students feel if they can just get an assignment written, that means it’s done. Later, perhaps when we’re workshopping the papers in class, students read their papers aloud and discover all sorts of snags or problems they could have corrected if they had just taken the time to reread beforehand. At this point, usually the revision button clicks on, and developing writers are more open to learning how to revise, edit, and proof.

Layers of Sand25000

Layers of Text: What writers eventually discover is that revising is a many-layered affair. Even just a second reading of a paper or article typically turns up a number of surface-level corrections that need to be made. Later readings frequently turn up more subtle inconsistencies or incoherencies, even among experienced writers.

More Than One Draft: On the surface level, perhaps we are weak in grammar or punctuation or maybe we just have multiple typos. We make those surface-level corrections and dutifully reread our new draft only to notice that certain logical connections between ideas are lacking or, perhaps, our ideas (as brilliant as they are) are not organized in a coherent fashion. This reworking of the paper may take us longer to accomplish. When these revisions are complete, we happily reread our paper only to discover nuances engendered by our word choices are now suspect. The words may not be specific enough or may simply be used incorrectly. So, another revision of the paper is needed.

A Layered Affair: By now, the writer is beginning to accept that revision is, indeed, a layered affair. Every time one level of the paper is cleaned up, somehow that revision exposes problems on a more subtle level. Now, if someone is beginning to love writing, this process of refinement, of looking at one’s writing at subtler and subtler levels, becomes intriguing and creative. If writing is still felt to be a chore, then emerging writers may still be able see the practical value of revising as a means for improving their grade.

Click That Revision Button: We hope for growth along the more creative avenue, but, either way, clicking on the revision button in a writer’s experience is a definite win-win.


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Title: Layers of Sand