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How to Focus on Grammar in the Writing Studio

Monday, January 12th, 2015 | Posted in USF Writing Studio Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by dmfarrar | No Comments »

grammar focus in studioby Ashley Annis, an MFA student at USF in Creative Writing and a Writing Studio consultant

As most repeat clients know, the Writing Studio is a place that focuses on writers honing and refining their craft, rather than having someone read over their paper and “correct” their mistakes. But is grammar a part of writing? Of course it is, and an important one too. Do the Writing Studio consultants help with grammar? Of course! But maybe not in the way some writers think.

My teacher says my paper doesn’t make sense—it must be the grammar!

Oftentimes, “grammatical” concerns in writing boil down to unclear wording or lack of specificity, which isn’t a grammar issue at all, but rather an organizational issue. In this case, your Writing Studio consultant will ask you a lot of questions:

“Can you rephrase this sentence another way verbally?”

“Is ___________ what you meant here?”

“What is this sentence trying to accomplish in your writing?”

These questions are to help you understand your writing more thoroughly, and in turn, help you organize your points in a way that comes across clearly to the reader.

It really is just grammar, I promise!

If your issue isn’t an organizational or clarity issue, and is indeed a grammatical one, we’re here to help with that too. Here are some expectations to have in mind when booking your appointment.

1. The purpose is to learn.

Any Writing Studio appointment will focus on ways to help improve your writing, and a grammar appointment is no different. Keep in mind that the Writing Studio is not an editing service, so don’t expect the consultant to point to places where you need commas. The session will be slow, focusing on a particular sentence at a time, breaking down its parts and putting them back together. The session should allow you to go home with an understanding of two or three grammatical rules and how to identify them, not an edited document.

2. We will not get through the whole document.

When focusing on sentence-level issues, the rate at which your consultant can discuss your work decreases drastically. If you have serious grammatical concerns, a realistic expectation is around one page, though there have been consultations that are able to cover more and consultations that have only focused on one paragraph. Keep these thoughts in mind going into your appointment, and schedule accordingly.

3. Think long term.

Keep in mind, you wrote the whole paper. Chances are, you won’t completely change your style of writing on page two. This is helpful because in grammatically-focused sessions, your consultant will focus on patterns of error, or grammatical errors that occur in your writing frequently. Ususally, a pattern of error implies that this is a rule a client simply never learned, or perhaps forgot. By addressing patterns of error, the client will learn the patterns of their own writing and will be able to walk away with two or three concerns to look for in the rest of the document, along with the knowledge of how to find and address these concerns.

The Writing Studio is here to help—having clear expectations of what can be done during a session will only allow your time with a consultant to be more productive.

Happy writing!

 

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