This Title is Not As Thought Out as Murray’s

The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers is an Article by esteemed college researcher Sondra Perl. In 1979, she conducted a major and much needed look into the writing process of college students who’ve just begun their higher learning writing careers. What she found was that students already know how to write however when they are given a broad topic they dichotomize, or split up, it until they can write about those subjects. An example of this is when the topic of “Equality” was given. One student broke it down to “White vs. Black” and “Rich vs. Poor”.  Also when they are given a topic they know more about, their writing is noticeably better. Perl also went into great detail about the students’ revision processes. As they would write, they would immediately go back and reread what they had written. That broke up their flow, often losing their train of thought. They were merely “fixing” grammar. However, they had written such complex sentences that the rules they were trying to apply didn’t.

When he speaks about himself and his opinions, he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about as he should. Who else knows what goes through other’s minds. However, he makes a lot of assumptions that the reader would know about him. (We don’t.) After he wrote his sample on equality, Tony read in missing parts, and didn’t notice syntax errors. I often do the same as I don’t consider myself to be a very skilled writer, in short it makes perfect sense. When I would, or forced to, read my writing aloud, I found that I had either forgotten some piece or come up with an idea that sounded much better. That’s nothing new, I suppose people have been doing this for centuries.

In Berkenkotter’s article about esteemed author Donald Murray, Decisions and Revisions The Planning Strategies of a Publishing Writer, she goes into great detail of his writing processes. At the start of the research, they were sending tapes back and forth. often times he would stop talking and Berkenkotter would be at a complete loss, as she is not there to know what actually happened. Murray carries a day book around with him, jotting down every idea and plan he has. Once he is ready to type, Murray dictates his ideas to his wife, who is an speedy typist. From there, he rereads it and often goes back to his day book to write additional ideas as well as omit a few.  Situational Variables are introduced to us when he is brought into Berkenkotter’s university. As he is to explain death to an eleven year old subscriber of a magazine he had never heard of and actually doubted it’s audience.

He has it all figured out. When I was younger, I carried around a small book with me at all times. Well, it started as an entire binder, which was cumbersome, and then upgraded to a small notebook I had gotten as a gift when I was about thirteen. I suppose that was my version of a day book. However, most of those ideas didn’t get very far out of that notebook. As for differently, I don’t exactly have a wife who is good at typing. I have to type everything myself, which isn’t too bad. I don’t like reading my own work out loud so there would lie another problem with that model.


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