Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Topic: Drafts and Writing with the Word Processor

10-second-review: It’s easy to confuse clear copy with the finished copy. You need to remember that a draft is a draft. Here’s how.

Title: “Lessons from the Computer Writing Problems of Professionals.” G. Grow. College Composition and Communication (May 1988), 217-220. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: “So they won’t confuse clean copy with finished copy, encourage students to leave in extra headings, embed working questions, etc., so their working drafts look distinctly different from their final drafts.” p. 220.

Comment: One of the advantages of word processing for students is that each printed copy looks finished, without all of the cross-outs, additions and arrows to indicate movement of text from one place to another when writing with pencil or pen. One of the disadvantages of the clean copy is that students are more willing to let poor writing take the place of the hard work of finishing.

The authors’ suggestion that students leave in extra headings that keep the student’s writing unified and inserting working questions indicates that the clean copy is a draft. Of course, an obvious method of showing the progress of a draft is to mark it by red-lining, noting in red all changes. In Microsoft Word, click “Track Changes” on the Tools menu. Then a draft looks like a draft, and enables writers to track and comment on their changes.

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