Friday, 4 January 2013

Creative Writing a FREE 7-wk workshop : Part 2

A piece of writing is not complete if it had not gone through the process of editing. 

In today's session of Dreamcatcher, Sara & Janelle once again cleverly disguised editing practices into fun cards that also had them reading creative phrases. You ladies are my inspiration!

Taken from Wikipedia.

"Technical editing involves reviewing text written on a technical topic, and identifying usage errors and ensuring adherence to a style guide.

Technical editing may include the correction of grammatical mistakes, misspellings, mistyping, incorrect punctuation, inconsistencies in usages, poorly structured sentences, wrong scientific terms, wrong units and dimensions, inconsistency in significant figures, technical ambivalence, technical disambiguation, correction of statements conflicting with general scientific knowledge, correction of synopsis, content, index, headings and subheadings, correcting data and chart presentation in a research paper or report, and correcting errors in citations.

In large companies, experienced writers are dedicated to the technical editing function. In organizations that cannot afford dedicated editors, experienced writers typically peer-edit text produced by their less experienced colleagues.

It helps if the technical editor is familiar with the subject being edited, but that is not always essential. The "technical" knowledge that an editor gains over time while working on a particular product or technology does give the editor an edge over another who has just started editing content related to that product or technology. But essential general skills are attention to detail, the ability to sustain focus while working through lengthy pieces of text on complex topics, tact in dealing with writers, and excellent communication skills."

Just how Wiki detailed it, the session's editing process was a nurture initiative from the ladies. You know how children always thinks their favourite teachers are always right and parents are wrong despite the fact that the parents actually said the same thing, albeit in a different way? Well, this session just made me re-live those days when the girls would say... "But my teacher says this method is the proper way to do it." Read : Only superior teachers have this edge over children. However, they agreed on one thing. That prior to working on this game-like-editing period, they recalled that I too have done the same method of checking, when I encouraged them to re-look at their piece. Of course, since it was already in a piece, I could no longer make it that much fun.

The above card was one of the strips that DD2 picked out from an array of one-para content strips. The typed strip was pasted onto a lined card.

DD2 was to read it once through and distinguish which words required grammar correction to them or if there were any misspelled words, etc. Upon completion, she was to pass it on to a friend beside her to double check what she has supposedly checked and corrected. Her corrected content was written on the lined card. Her friend was to indicate further corrections she may have missed out on with a pen of another colour. At the end of the exercise, the "examiners" were to sign off below with their initials.

This is a cool pre-writing activity parents can do with their children at home. Hopefully, it can further encourage our children not to be complacent and to remember to always proof-read and edit their written piece prior to submission.

One thing I learnt from DD2's style of writing is that she needs to shorten her content in a sentence as it adds to punctuation errors. When a sentence is described in a concise manner, it is more direct and easily understood. Exceptions however can be made for liners that may contain tension-building content but should be limited to one or two. In actual fact, tension building phrases and/or story plots can also come in short notes. 

For example, this one below. I personally could feel the situation. Perhaps I'm biased because I am a mom myself. LOL! 

To the author : thank you for this, it's beautiful.

"Father, quite shaken by the violence, tried to shout but his voice became ineffectually soft. Don't you dare do such a thing again."

"Ah Sun was more gentle. She was hurt. "Don't. Seng Chooi, don't. Don't do that again. Say you're sorry. Your mother loves you, you know."

Excerpt taken from The Glass Cage by Ong Choo Suat. 
~ Singapore Short Stories ~

After a short break, everyone came back into the room to resume writing. Well, it is a writing class. So they write. This time, the children took out their writing books to show Sara & Janelle their ideas. "Ideas can come in many forms. It can be in words, in phrases, in pictures or symbolizations, a poem, a doodle.. anything." Sara has always emphasized.

The writing book is actually a Biology exercise book that has lines on one side of the paper and a blank page next to it. So, in whichever form ideas do come to the children... they are encouraged to just note them down in that book. Yes, any ideas at all.

It does not have to intentionally be anything creative or memorized from somewhere. Nope. Just write anything that comes to mind.

The week before, the children were given a picture to ponder upon and just scribble notes as and when an idea comes up during the weekend. DD2 received a picture depicting a scene that somewhat replicated a festival. A lantern festival. So, doodle she did...

DD2 was particularly pleased when it was affirmed that these notes of hers need not even come in neat handwriting.

From her personal notes, the ladies took turns to speak to her with regards to the ideas. I left the session shortly to bring my cranky boys downstairs for a brief walk to the shops. We eventually were stuck for quite awhile due to a very heavy downpour. I rang DD2 to ask if she was finished. "No, mom." Came the reply. "We are having a conference at the moment." She resumed. "Huh?" I replied instantly. "Janelle and I are having a conference. Give us another 10 to 15 minutes."

Daddie came to fetch us again since he was home from work and wasn't doing anything much. As usual, the sweet and thoughtful father he is and a doting gramps.

Janelle briefly mentioned when I was fetching the girls that they have started writing the story based on the picture given. She also agreed with my observation that DD2 tend to have a lot of ideas but at times have difficulty channeling them to fit the story line and stay in point. So, she said she managed to have a word with DD2... for which I am deeply grateful for... since Janelle is now DD2's latest idol.

Janelle, if you're reading this.. here's what DD2 said in her words... plus minus.

"During today's DreamCatcher's conference today, Janelle brought up this point about my ideas and writing. She says I have a lot of ideas. Having lots of ideas are good. But my ideas should match the intention of the story. For example, in today's picture description about the lantern festival I had wanted to add that one of the girls got an allergic reaction to the dirty water (river water). Janelle said it was a creative idea on my part. Not all kids know of allergies and allergic reaction, so the idea was good but not necessary to add in. I should stick to the point of the story. Janelle said since my picture was about the festival, stick to more of my ideas about the festival. You are right, mom. I must try not to go out of point." 

*DD2 had an earlier discussion with me at home, before we left for the session. I shared that it was a creative idea as well but I wasn't sure if it would go down nicely with the theme but I encouraged her to try anyway to which she said okay. Hence, I am thankful that Janelle brought it up positively to DD2 and she accepted the feedback in good nature, citing she would keep that in mind.

DreamCatcher has thus far complemented my own teaching style when it comes to teaching children plus in dealings with parents. I too believe that children should know how to work on the areas that they are weak in and learn how to receive and analyze post-session feedback. However, first and foremost as educators and of course also parents.. we must first always remember to acknowledge the strengths of the child and cue them in on how to use those strengths, maximize them and put them to better use for future sessions or for home revision or even in during school lessons.

A session that guides too much becomes a tuition session that may (or may not) become a crutch for children in case they are not able to detach from such guidance. A child who is being taught to look into their own shortcomings & how to work on them, will be able to work better independently hence losing that need to be reliant on an external person for guidance each time they work on something.

Thanks, Sara & Janelle.. to yet another constructive session. The girls are so looking forward to the next session.

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