Must Read Articles from Draft

"Draft features essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others on the art of writing — from the comma to the tweet to the novel — and why a well-crafted sentence matters more than ever in the digital age." Draft is a must subscribe for any teacher. Draft welcomes submissions at draft@nytimes.com.

My first thought was to create a post for each post - however, I wanted to create a singular post explaining the need for teachers and students to seek better ways to teach writing because I will be on vacation for two weeks.

I constantly hear the need for students to read - and that reading is what will make students better readers. I agree with this statement - however writing is an essential component of our society. We need to be able to write reports, emails, presentations, and more. And while many of us find fun independent books to read on our own writing is not as much fun when one starts. Students must be instructed to write - and continue to practice writing. These articles offer insights to how writing matters and how it maybe even more important in the digital age. This is a mega post - requiring those interested to read probably too much info.
  • "My Life's Sentences" by Jhumpha Lahiri (03.17.12) "Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but." Excerpt: "Constructing a sentence is the equivalent of taking a Polaroid snapshot: pressing the button, and watching something emerge. To write one is to document and to develop at the same time. Not all sentences end up in novels or stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. One in front of the other marks the way."

  • "The Sentence as a Miniature Narrative" by Constance Hale (03.19.12) "For a sentence to be a sentence we need a What and a So What." Excerpt: "I like to imagine a sentence as a boat. Each sentence, after all, has a distinct shape, and it comes with something that makes it move forward or stay still — whether a sail, a motor or a pair of oars. There are as many kinds of sentences as there are seaworthy vessels: canoes and sloops, barges and battleships, Mississippi riverboats and dinghies all-too-prone to leaks. And then there are the impostors, flotsam and jetsam — a log heading downstream, say, or a coconut bobbing in the waves without a particular destination.My analogy seems simple, but it’s not always easy to craft a sentence that makes heads turn with its sleekness and grace. And yet the art of sentences is not really a mystery.Over the course of several articles, I will give you the tools to become a sentence connoisseur as well as a sentence artisan. Each of my lessons will give you the insight to appreciate fine sentences and the vocabulary to talk about them."
  • "Readers Favorite Mini-Narratives" by Constance Hale (03.23.12)"In response to an essay on subjects and predicates, readers responded sent in some of their favorite sentences."
  • "A Picture of Language" by Kitty Burns Florey (03.26.12) "How a teacher in Homer, N.Y., changed the way students learn grammar." Excerpt: The question remains: Does diagramming sentences teach us anything except how to diagram sentences?
  • "Desperately Seeking Synonyms" by Constance Hale (04.02.12) "Words give a sentence its luster, and choosing them deserves intense attention." Excerpt "Writers sometimes forget that the primary role of nouns is to paint a clear picture, and they pile up abstractions and leave us clueless as to the people, places, things or ideas they are writing about.
  • "Skyscapes" by Constance Hale (04.06.12) "Readers answered the call to write a distinct description of the sky." Excerpt: Hale "agree(s) with Asterix, who wrote: “Rich, vivid words must be used carefully if they are to carry any real weight. The best writing maintains an elegant balance between the commonplace and the unexpected in its vocabulary.”
  • Peter Arkle
  • "Fanfare for the Comma Man" by Ben Yogoda (04.09.12) "When it comes to the comma, writers shouldn't play it by ear." Excerpt: "As a professor at the University of Delaware, I read a lot of writing by college students, and in it a strong recent trend is reversion to comma-by-sound. I attribute this not so much to students’ love of the Constitution and the classics but to the fact that they don’t read much edited prose (as opposed to Facebook status updates, tweets and the like). Two things that you really need to read a lot to understand are punctuation and spelling."
  • "Make-or-Break Verbs" by Constance Hale (04.16.12) "Without verbs, words would simply cluster together in suspended animation." Excerpt: "Verbs kick-start sentences: Without them, words would simply cluster together in suspended animation. We often call them action words, but verbs also can carry sentiments (love, fear, lust, disgust), hint at cognition (realize, know, recognize), bend ideas together (falsify, prove, hypothesize), assert possession (own, have) and conjure existence itself (is, are)"
  • "Talking With Your Fingers" by John McWhorter (04.23.12) "E-mailing and texting are not writing at all. They are something altogether new: written conversation." Excerpt: This speech on paper is vibrant, creative and “real” in exactly the way that we celebrate in popular forms of music, art, dance and dress style. Few among us yearn for a world in which the only music is classical, the only dance is ballet and daily clothing requires corsets and waistcoats. As such, we might all embrace a brave new world where we can both write and talk with our fingers.
  • "The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive" by Constance Hale (04.30.12) "Surprise! Sometimes the passive voice is a useful tool." Excerpt: "To experiment with the voice of verbs, try this little exercise: Find someone who is stuck waiting for something and watch how they wait. Perhaps it is a teenager waiting for a bus, or a customer in line at the post office. Perhaps it is a child, eager to open the birthday presents. Does the passive voice underscore the person’s passivity? Can you animate even passivity by using dynamic verbs in the active voice? What verbs do the trick? Which voice works best?"
Steve Attardo
  • "Just the Facts" by Danny Heitman (05.07.12) "Factual accuracy is as important to nonfiction as meter or rhyme might be to a classical poet." Excerpt: "The trouble with this notion of narrative is that it regards facts as obstacles to overcome rather than opportunities for insight. As a nonfiction writer for some 30 years now, I’ve come to see that factual accuracy is as important to my stories as meter or rhyme might be to a classical poet. Granted, the facts of a narrative do impose a limit on a writer’s field of action. But it’s this tension between form and expression, like the sublime shaping of lines required by the rules of the sonnet, that gives good nonfiction its real beauty."
The rest of the articles I will simply post quickly - 
  • "Turning a Phrase" by Contance Hale (05.14.12) "Phrases can help give a sentence depth, detail and movement, but they can also create clutter."
  • "The Most Comma Mistakes" by Ben Yagoda (05.21.12) "Rules about when to use and not to use commas are legion. But certain errors keep popping up."
  • "Some Comma Questions" by Ben Yagoda (05.25.12) "The writer responds to readers' queries about the comma."
  • "Sentences Crisp, Sassy, Stirring" by Constance Hale (05.28.12) "Different sentences carry different weight, and we can craft them not just to get an idea across, but also to convey attitude or elicit emotion."
  • "Using Undictionaried Words" by Erin McKean (06.04.12) "How to serve as your own lexicographer and shine a light on largely undiscovered words."
  • "The Sound of a Sentence" by Constance Hale (06.11.12) "Language can be an adventure if we remember that words can make a kind of melody."
  • "Taming Sentences" by Kitty Burns Florey (06.18.12) "What does diagramming sentences teach us besides how to diagram sentences?"
  • "The Voice of the Storyteller" by Constance Hale (06.25.12) "By using voice and point of view, a writer can reach out to the reader and say, "We're in this together.""
  • "Semicolons: A Love Story" by Ben Dolnick (07.02.12) "How Kurt Vonnegut taught one writer to hate the semicolon; how William James convinced him to love it."
  • "A Matter of Fashion" by John McWhorter (07.09.12) "A trip back in time shows that what is considered proper English changes from century to century."
  • "What is Real Is Imagined" by Colm Toibin (07.14.12) "I feel just fine about ignoring or bypassing the rights of people I have known and loved to be rendered faithfully, or to be left in peace, and out of novels."

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