Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our Favorite Revision Strategies

With deadlines fast approaching and drafts piling up, we thought it may be nice to share a few of our favorite revision strategies to help you out in the home stretch to the end of the semester.


Lead tutor Jenni suggests a strategy of to determine the clarity of your topic to your audience.


“Here is a revision strategy which has helped me clean up and refocus many papers. After completing a first draft, print out two copies of your paper. Take one copy, and in the margins identify the topic of each paragraph. Limit yourself to no more than three words. Ask yourself what each paragraph is really about, and jot it down. When you get to the end of your paper, go ahead and put those pages away and forget about them for the time being. Retrieve that second copy of your paper; the copy you have not jotted notes on. Hand it to a peer. Without mentioning how you’ve already done this yourself on another copy, ask your peer to read and then write in the margin next to each paragraph what they think is the topic of that paragraph. After your peer has finished, bring your copy with your notes back out. Compare papers and notes. Have a conversation about what you each came up with and why. Do you and your peer agree on what each paragraph is really about? If not, think and talk about how this miscommunication could have happened. What specifically on the page is sending mixed signals?”


Staff tutor Hillary describes a simple fix for voice and sentence clarity.


“One of the easiest and most effective ways to revise your paper is to read it aloud. Read the paper out loud, and pay attention to spots you stumble on. I find that these trouble areas usually just need a quick flip or maybe a different word choice to make them flow better. If possible, have a friend read along silently--You’d be surprised how often you will actually auto-correct your own typed words when you are speaking them.  Often you will say something clearer than you typed it, and BAM!, your brain did the revision for you. This is a tool we often use in the Writing Center, and it can really help smooth out the voice in your writing without much effort.”


Lead Tutor, Dan, has a bit of a different spin on reading your paper aloud, which he calls the “Richard Nixon.”


“Once I've written my paper, I like to read my paper aloud using a character voice, my favorite being Richard Nixon. Because I am focusing so much on the character voice, I  remove myself from my own speech patterns and can find any trouble spots in the paper”


We hope these few suggestions help in your revision process!

Please note the the Writing Center is OPEN Monday and Tuesday 9-5 and Wednesday 9-Noon during Finals week! Visit our webpage to make an appointment!

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Halloween Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up Entry

We also want to congratulate our (very close) runner-up, Jason Witherow! Enjoy!

Maniac Inferno
My husband’s fire crew responded to an explosion at the gas station. The smoke was so dense it blots out the sun. The fire has been burning for hours; I hope Frank is ok. I pace the kitchen hoping nothing has gone wrong. I hear the front door slam shut. I walk over to see Frank in his fire gear holding an axe and covered with blood.
“Sweetie, what hap-“
“No time, grab my gun.” Frank says
Confused, I tilt my head, and stare at him.
“Now” Frank says.
I rush to the bedroom and grab Frank’s pistol from the safe, and give it to him. He nods, and hands me his axe, covered in chunks of red flesh.
“Frank, tell me what is going on?” I ask.
“A group of people went crazy and blew the gas station up. They waited for us to come and started attacking anyone who was there,” Frank says.
“Terrorists attacked us?” I ask.
“Not terrorists. They were something different. They were crazy, cackling, their eyes black. One of them smeared their blood on a cops face, and then he was cackling too. The cop pulled out his gun and started shooting into the crowd.” Frank says as he barricades the front door.  
“What,” I ask, sure this is a joke.
“They went crazy. They are savages; I don’t know how to tell you. Don’t open the door for anyone, if they come in, kill them.”
“You’re saying that people are becoming black eyed homicidal maniacs when some crazy person smears blood in their face, Frank?” I ask.
“Yes Honey, they got Steve too. He came at me.” Frank says, his hands shaking.
“Frank, I need you to sit down” I say, while I reach for the phone to call 911.
I dial EMS and I get a busy signal. I hang up and start to worry. I hear a knocking sound at the front door. Frank runs to the barricade and we hear talking.
“Frankie Boy, we saw what you did to Steve. We came to see how you were holding up” the voice from behind the door says chuckling.
Frank quietly walks towards me and puts one finger in front of his mouth. I tighten my grip on the axe. The man on the other side starts whacking the front door, and it breaks in two; I see the man and scream. His face has a bloody hand print, and a wide smile that makes his pitch black eyes seem demonic. He hops over the barricading table and points to Frank.
“You’ve been a bad bo-“
Frank shoots him in the chest. The man falls to the floor giggling, trying to catch his breath. Two other men come in through the window. Frank shoots them both.  One in the head, and the other in the arm. The wounded man tackles Frank and grabs his throat. I run over and plunge the axe into the top of the maniac’s skull. He goes limp on top of Frank. He pushes the body over, and wipes blood off his face.
“Are you ok sweetie?” I ask him

His hand moves away from his face and I see a wide smile, and black eyes look back at me. “Yes sweetheart, I’m fine.” He answers, staring at his gun, cackling.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Halloween Flash Fiction Contest Winner: How to Survive an Apocalypse


HOW TO SURVIVE AN APOCALYPSE1
by Peter Saunders

A parade of Four Horsemen? a slicing scythe?
Is this how we are to meet our dooms?
The Devil himself come to claim his tithe?
Clouds of chemicals shaped like mushrooms?

Is this how we are to meet our dooms?
The test of the Antichrist, or a common blight?
Clouds of chemicals shaped like mushrooms?
A conclave of witches on Walpurgis Night?

The test of the Antichrist, or a common blight?
Everyone suffering would die to find out
A conclave of witches on Walpurgis Night?
Superstition blooms from seeds sown by doubt

Everyone suffering would die to find out
Exactly why we endure this trial
Superstition blooms from seeds sown by doubt
Hope springs eternal from those in denial

Exactly why we endure this trial
None can tell with a definite answer
Hope springs eternal from those in denial
We must make the best of this ravaging cancer

None can tell with a definite answer
What we are learning by suffering so
We must make the best of this ravaging cancer
That drives us to madness, confusion, and woe

What we are learning by suffering so
Infected with plague that kills in the gloom
That drives us to madness, confusion, and woe
We know not, nor even dare to presume

Infected with plague that kills in the gloom
As we sit in our waiting rooms unto the gloam
We know not, nor even dare to presume
Where our late family and friends go to roam

As we sit in our waiting rooms unto the gloam
Now I ask you: do you still persevere?
Where our late family and friends go to roam
You, too, may yet follow, for our ends are near

Now I ask you: do you still persevere?
Do spectres of dead ones haunt your waking dreams?
You too, may yet follow, for our ends are near
Already, I see you unravel at the seams

Do spectres of dead ones haunt your waking dreams?
Greed turns neighbors into mortal foes
Already, I see you unravel at the seams
The Reaper rejoices, here and there he goes

Greed turns neighbors into mortal foes
As buildings collapse, as hate is rebuilt
The Reaper rejoices, here and there he goes
Wilting our will and compounding our guilt

As buildings collapse, as hate is rebuilt
We run from the world but cannot escape
Wilting our will and compounding our guilt
Is the ruin of our future that begins to take shape

We run from our world but cannot escape
But worse than pandemic or mortal decay
Is the ruin of our future that begins to take shape
Rotting by night, reeking by day

But worse than pandemic or mortal decay
Is the shameless greed that drives our deeds
Rotting by night, reeking by day
We reap what was sown by those seductive seeds

Is the shameless greed that drives our deeds
Peculiar to shortcomings of the human race?
We reap what was sown by those seductive seeds
Do we truly deserve such a low, vulgar place?

Peculiar to shortcomings of the human race?
Is this what it’s come to at last?
Do we truly deserve such a low, vulgar place?
Must we die in a penitent blast?

Is this what it’s come to at last?
Alas, we find that we don’t mind
Must we die in a penitent blast?
Our fates have long since been thus resigned

Alas, we find that we don’t mind
As prejudice fuels war like books on a fire
Our fates have long since been thus resigned
Dripping with oil, we recline on the pyre

As prejudice fuels war like books in a fire
And the splinter of winter deeper delves
Dripping with oil, we recline on the pyre
DID WE BRING THIS UPON OURSELVES?

And the splinter of winter deeper delves
As you read these words with your dying breath
DID WE BRING THIS UPON OURSELVES?
This question compels you in the shadow of Death

As you read these words with your dying breath
I hope you find these useful tips
This question compels you in the shadow of Death:
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE AN APOCALYPSE?

I hope you find these useful tips
When provisions of food and water are scant
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE AN APOCALYPSE?
The answer is tragically simply: you can't.

1 N.b. Results may will vary drastically.


Congratulations, Peter! Check back next week for the runner up!