GRAMMAR AND STYLE
The most important concepts that I have learned in English 2500 are: the rhetorical nature of grammar, how to develop clarity and style, and the importance of revision.
Upon entering the course, my view of grammar was strictly abiding by a set of rules. I hadn't considered how my grammatical choices would influence my reader's experience of my writing. My understanding of grammar had been very black and white, right versus wrong, and our textbook, Rhetorical Grammar, helped me see how I construct sentences, how I place punctuation, how I structure paragraphs all have a rhetorical effect. Specifically, the discussions on how we create emphasis on certain parts of our sentences and how this emphasis can either drive home to the writing's intended purpose or stray from it were particularly helpful. In analyzing my own writing, I began to see how many of my sentences were structured the same, which created laborious reading but also did not enhance the message I was trying to get across. Now, I am able to look at my grammar rhetorically and ask if how I have constructed my sentences is creating the emphasis I want to create.
My biggest takeaway regarding style was the importance of establishing clear and concise writing as its foundation. I think sometimes style is confused with unnecessary verbose and complicated language. I found the advice in, On Writing Well. to be incredibly helpful. To paraphrase, it goes something like: style is how we as an individual write, but underpinning our style should be a dedication to craft - to the careful construction of language that is clear to reader and concise in its message. In this way, I have approached my writing asking the question: is every word doing the job it's meant to do? Is there a way to write this sentence shorter? Is there a shorter word that could work for this complicated word? I believe that my style still shines through, but my writing is much stronger when I prioritize my craft.
Lastly, the course has taught me about the importance of revision. I think grammar in and of itself is an essential part of the revision process. During revision, we have the opportunity to analyze our structure, punctuation, usage, etc. and rewrite to better support the purpose of our piece. Through this class, I now see how I can use concepts like: adverbial phrases, dashes and colons, and fragmented sentences more purposefully. Specifically, I see how these strategies create emphasis that guides the reader along and meet the expectations of the reader. Having this perspective has improved my ability to revise and polish my writing.
Each of these concepts is important to me because I want to be an intentional and successful writer. The more I understand the rhetorical effects, not just of my words, but how I construct them, the more I will be able to write pieces that are meaningful and accessible. My goals after this course include: writing and editing personal nonfiction essays, developing my digital writing via my social media page and website, creating a writing/trauma blog, and launching a mental health zine series. The two guides I created as part of this class, the Style Guide and Revision Guide which highlight and organize these concepts, will be valuable tools towards polishing my personal and professional writing. I want to be a strong writer, and I believe by applying these concepts I will continue to grow and improve in my writing.