Student Comments S'11
Comp. Lit. 129 students’ assessment of semester work with writing tutors
Rather than working on what I could fix, we developed my ideas and talked about how I could push my argument. So rather than editing the essay, we built upon it, which was really exciting.
We talked for the whole hour about my outline. I found it extremely helpful figuring out my ideas with another person. Just the act of figuring out what the assignment asks and then presenting ideas and constantly clarifying what you are trying to say is very helpful. I found that a nonsensical argument developed into a tight knit argument after 40 minutes.
Another reason that I really like the Writing Center is that they force you to explain the plot to them. They have not read the novels, unlike our professors, and need some basic knowledge to get anything out of the paper. In the midst of explaining the plot, I actually uncovered a perfect way to end the paper.
My tutor tore my paper apart. She identified all the awkward sentences and paragraphs. The most important thing she did was to have me focus what I was trying to say by extracting all the unnecessary material.
After reformulating my thesis, my tutor realized the argument I was making actually made sense. This allowed us to focus on more minute aspects of the paper such as extraneous sentences. The writing conference taught me how central is a clear thesis that states exactly what you want it to: a thesis is the lens through which the reader interprets the rest of the paper.
The Writing Center was much more helpful than I thought it would be. I was surprised that it was more conversational than anything else, but my tutor was still very helpful.
I went into the meeting with an open mind, and I wound up giving a detailed summary of the novella. As I explained the plot, I was able to make connections to the underlying themes and piece together exactly how Claire tries to define love. We mapped out a rough outline with a clear-cut thesis. Using the explanation, I was able to start with a fresh, blank document and write a four page paper in an hour. Things just kept flowing, and the best part was that they were consistent with each other and transitioned well. I walked out of that meeting with my head held high because I had displayed my understanding of Claire’s character by describing both the plot and deeper analysis in detail.
Caitlin identified sentences that she believed were protracted and rambling, many of which I had not considered problematic. Caitlin read certain embarrassingly long passages aloud. It is one thing to read a paper to oneself, but to have someone read it aloud was extraordinarily helpful.
This conference helped me understand how I could build on what I had already written. By discussing my draft with Cara, I was able to think of new things to add, when before I had become stuck and was unsure of what to say even though I knew that there needed to be more.
Most of our discussion was directed toward improving the structure of the paper. My method for writing the paper was simply to get my ideas down on paper. She helped me refine my ideas and suggested how to present them more clearly. She also helped me to avoid plot summary. It was helpful to have a discussion with someone else who didn’t necessarily understand where I was going with my evidence.
Sometimes I don’t hold myself accountable for what I put down on paper, but Michael made sure I was responsible for everything I put down.
Rachel pushed me by asking me what I was really trying to say. Together, Rachel and I managed to boil down my mess of a paper into a clear outline, and she helped me group together my ideas and topic sentences in a more logical order.
The Writing Center appointment made me rethink my essay quite a bit. First, we re-worked and narrowed my thesis. After that, we discussed changing several of the paragraphs’ points. My tutor wanted me to strengthen my argument and find better support. I have decided to rework and rewrite most of the paper since I do not feel fully confident with it at all.
As Lindsay pointed out, I probably had at least a full page of unneeded plot summary, most of which consisted of quotes to prove what happened, instead of quotes to defend my argument. Deciding what was necessary was easy considering I had so many things to take out. It was easy to see what I actually needed to prove my point, and adjustments to the topic sentences gave my argument the clarity it had been lacking.
There was a moment when my writing tutor seemed to understand what my paper was saying better than I did, so I plan to develop some of the ideas I didn’t even realize I was including.