Following that line of thought, I suggest writers do their revisions shortly after theconference in order to keep the ideas fresh in their minds. Then, drawing from the articleon heuristics, I advise them to let the paper “rest and incubate” for a while beforerevisiting it and editing for grammar and style.John Bean made an excellent point in deeming grammar and style lesser concerns.Unless an error affects overall meaning of a sentence or argument, writers should focus
on that later in the process.What I can take away as a whole from these strategies is that my main concern, asat tutor, is making sure writers possess clear, supported theses or central arguments.Without that, they lose credibility, focus and organization, and that overshadows the positive attributes of their paper. While that may seem reminiscent of the five-paragraphessay philosophy, I see a clear distinction. Every paper should make an argument; that
does not mean five uniform paragraphs are necessary.
Something I like but has not worked 100 percent of the time / Things I don’t know:
In asking writers to draft a thesis or make revisions to a sentence in theconference, some are willing to do so and some are reluctant. I’m still figuring out how togo about that without sounding demanding. What I have been saying is, “I would love itif you would draft a thesis right now so that you can walk away feeling confident in your argument.” I don’t know if I should be more assertive or if that’s already appropriating
the text.Going along with that, in regards to Brooks’ “Minimalist Tutoring,” asking thewriter to do some writing or revising and then walking away while they draft has beendifficult. Some writers have been eager to forge new arguments and sentences, but somehave felt uncomfortable and under pressure. Finding the right way to give them space isdicey. Sometimes I’ll say, “I’m going to look at this on WC online for a moment,” butother times, I don’t know what to say. How can I do this effectively? Is asking the writer to construct a thesis then and there effective?
I don’t want them to feel pressured.I try to ask the “so what?” for every draft
in order to assign and spark more
interest in their writing for them. I have always felt that every piece of writing shouldcontain a point that’s still pertinent today. For the majority of the time, asking thisworked, but sometimes, writers were too caught up in explaining the “how” instead of the
“why.” How do I make it clearer?When writers want to concentrate on grammar and style — when the other aspects of their paper are so strong that we can look at the lower-tier concerns — how doI approach this without appropriating the text or sounding like a know-it-all? In myexperiences with talking about grammar, because I’m knowledgeable of the conventionsand rules, I feel like I sound arrogant. I say, “When you do this, you have to use a comma because…” But in what other ways can I say it? I’ve tried the reading out loud technique,and that can help writers identify places where they paused in reading but not in their writing (through punctuation). I’ve also tried identifying the error in one sentence andthen asking the writer to find it in the rest of her paper. Bean suggests doing this or goingthrough the paper and marking each sentence that commits the error. Is that too harsh?Telling them directly puts me in more of a teacher position than that of a tutor, but
wrong to be direct? I’ve been grappling with this issue through some of my conferences.
10/14/12 10:46 AM
How do you think this affectswhat a writer might be expecting a tutorial to look like, or wanting to work on?
10/14/12 10:46 AM
I have a very similar philosophy. Ithink one thing I would consider are the underlyingassumptions about the types of papers that arecoming at you. It makes sense in most academic pieces, but do you still feel like someone is trying tomake an argument/prove a point in a resume? Acreative piece? It really might be the case that theystill are, so it’s not like this defeats your purpose. Iwould take a moment to think about refining your words and thoughts here to show me how it appliesto a great spectrum of things, if you think it does.
10/14/12 2:50 PM
Have you thought about asking thewriter what s/he would like to do? Most of the time Ifind that they’re happy to get a thesis down if theydon’t already have one they like.
10/14/12 2:50 PM
I’m not very sure how that is.
10/14/12 2:53 PM
This is great insight. The thingabout minimalist tutors that I’ve worked with is thatI notice they are very comfortable with silenceswhile others (myself included) are always feelingtempted to break the silence somehow. I think a lotof the empowerment writers get from minimalisttutoring is that they are allowed to come to their ownconclusions/epiphanies about writing.
10/14/12 2:51 PM
Again, I think that a lot of this can be navigated through a direct conversation with thewriter themselves.
10/14/12 2:54 PM
This reads a bit awkwardly tome, what do you think?
10/14/12 2:56 PM
I’m not sure I’m following youexactly; this is something perhaps we can discuss atour conference as I’m not sure what the distinction ishere.
10/14/12 2:58 PM
Not necessarily. I’m sure you’vealready come across pedagogical literature out therediscussing directive tutoring. Neither do I think it’sfair to really dichotomize yourself/all tutorials asdirective/non-directive only. I think you can pushyourself to go deeper here and explore the concept of directive vs. non-directive tutoring and their benefitsin different circumstances.
10/14/12 2:59 PM
I’m always still grappling withthis too.