Writing from Start to Finish: The 'Story Workshop' Basic Forms Rhetoric-Reader

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9780867092677: Writing from Start to Finish: The 'Story Workshop' Basic Forms Rhetoric-Reader

This concise edition of Writing from Start to Finish uses basic oral forms to help students produce the expository, informative, and job-related writing they will need for their college and professional careers. Using the principles developed in John Schultz's "Story Workshop" approach, students learn what makes writing work for themselves and for their readers, how to employ the traditional rhetorical and story forms in their writing, and how to write in these basic forms with an audible written voice, strong imagery, a feeling of address to their reader, and a real sense of having something to say.

To provide encouraging and clearly executed models for beginning writers, this rhetoric-reader contains many selections of nonfiction and fiction by professional and classic writers as well as impressive pieces of student writing produced in story workshop classes. Students learn to do the sort of writing that students and teachers relish.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

John Schultz is currently Chair of the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College in Chicago. He is the author of short stories and articles in such journals as Evergreen Review, Chicago Review, and The Georgia Review.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From Chapter I: The How-To Form:

Introduction

How often has someone, in giving directions, left out essentials of the task or blurred them because they didn't see it the way you would see it? The how-to form is implicit or explicit in the oral or written telling of anything we do. From cooking a meal to persuading a jury, from playing a game to fixing a car, from obeying rules to modifying them, from job to sport to play, it focuses on the physical and psychological skills, competencies, techniques, make-sure points, and attitudes for doing whatever it is effectively. The how-to is a fundamental form of on-the-job writing. The naturalness and variety of the how-to make it pleasurable to write. It is also one of the most common forms of published writing. All forms of engineering and industry and communications, all of the sciences and social sciences, most professions, most trades, require clear technical perception and effective writing.

The telling and demonstrating of how-to instructions that can be clearly recalled and followed has been the responsibility of how-to tellers and the how-to form throughout human evolution. Our dependence upon the cooperative use of technology (from rocks, bones, sticks, and fire to cybernetics) makes the how-to basic and crucial. The how-to puts a strong emphasis upon vivid imagery, course of reasoning, and persuasion.

Here is a part of a how-to that was told orally and then retold by the author in writing: (It's from "Getting the Most Out of Frisbeeing," by Allan Johnson.)

You say you can't throw a frisbee straight? You want to throw it toward someone and it veers off into another direction? You say you throw it up-it flies up; it stops in mid-air; it flies back directly towards you, over your head, and hits someone on the head? Is that what's troubling you, son? Well, the problem is in handling the thing: you're holding it wrong. Let me explain...

Writing Your How-To: The Subject

Think of a skill you know how to do well, and of telling it to someone so that person can do it too, a job or sport or game or whatever, something you do with your hands or in which your hands and body play a significant part, i.e., a skill that requires physical-mental coordination, something you have done again and again, something you do well, something you enjoy doing. Think of telling it to someone, of gestures you would use. Start writing your how-to.

Some of you will say you have "writer's block." Some of you will say that the blank page becomes a wall between you and what you have to say. Well, in fifteen years of teaching writing, I've had a number of students who have promptly claimed "writer's block," and most of them completed the semester's work. Some of you will say, "I can show you how to do it, but I can't write it." I say, "Fine, if you can tell and show us, you're well on the way to knowing how to tell it in writing. As a matter of fact, you can start telling us right now-in writing. Pick out a student in the class and tell it to that person now-in writing." Put the pen or pencil to paper, or fingers to the typewriter. Make the pencil move, the fingers type.

Make sure your how-to is a skill activity that you know how to do reasonably well. See the characteristic objects, characteristic situations, characteristic things that happen. See the special twists that you know about. See the points that the "you" must make sure of. Lay out a sequence of make-sure points, though many of these will occur to you in the process of writing. You don't have to wait to figure out everything. You can write notes and discover the rest as you write.

Imagine yourself demonstrating your how-to to your audience. See yourself, (the authority) and "you" (the audience) as actors in it. See the usual situation of doing whatever it is. Let your hand be an extension of your voice. Concentrate on telling your how-to to someone. See it, and tell it so the someone can see it and do it.

Writing Your How-To: The Audience

Most writing is addressed to "mixed audiences." Put together two or three or four persons with different backgrounds, and you have a "mixed audience." Most literature is written for mixed audiences - or for anyone-who-can-see-and-hear-it, which is both a fundamental kind of telling what you see in your mind so someone else can see it and a most advanced form of "ideal" literary audience. Of course, all of these audience elements exist in certain degrees for any kind of writing at any time.

The "mixed audience" is the most common audience and the one you should ordinarily anticipate and imagine during your writing. Your class is probably a good example of a "mixed audience." Technical reports are frequently organized in two parts, the first being addressed to a "mixed audience," and the second to persons trained in the particular expertise.

When you write a how-to, you merge the "mix" of the anticipated audience with the "you" in your mind...

You need to move your audience to perceive, believe, and do what they might not otherwise perceive, believe and do - or would not perceive so clearly, believe so willingly, or do so effectively. In some cases, it means changing the audience's mind or persuading the audience to try out a different understanding of a subject. This requires a convincing course of reasoning and persuasion. In rhetoric, "argument" is the term for a course of reasoning. The facts and sequence of how to do whatever it is are essential to the argument of a how-to. The way facts are presented can be as crucial as the necessary sequence...

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