Here is a downloadable form of my Course Reflection: Writing Ideas and Strategies
Writing Ideas and Strategies:
- Reverse outline
- Thoroughly introduce the authors of my sources
- Simplify sentences and have varying complexity
- Don’t end with your counter argument
- Transitions should make it very clear as to what the connection between your two paragraphs are
- The order in which you present your information is very important
- If you don’t want to introduce a source early on, it’s okay to simply parenthetically cite them and introduce them later on
Throughout this course, I was introduced to three distinct, but connected, forms of writing: the literature review, case study, and definitional text. While each of them had a distinct message and purpose, I found that I struggled with similar aspects in each of them. To summarize, most of my feedback revolved around clarity. This ranged from rewording specific sentences to reordering whole pieces. As a result, much of my revisions involved organization and clarity. In this reflection, I will focus on the ordering of my paragraphs and presentation of information in particular. Organization was a recurring problem in each of my pieces, and was something that was always one of my primary focuses for revision. Each project presented a different organizational issue, and hence called for a different strategy for revision. From the three projects, I believe I have vastly improved my organization skills, and learned several effective strategies towards writing a piece that is well-organized and structured.
For my literature review, which presented the positives and negatives of free music streaming services, my initial draft proved to be very messy in terms of organization. I first talked about the financial impact music stream has had upon artists, then how streaming has lowered pirating rates, then back to the financial impact, and then finally back to a positive aspect of streaming. Clearly my draft was very jumpy, going back and forth between positives and negatives. The easiest way to see this is the transitions between paragraphs. For example, I end one paragraph with, “Record labels, on the other hand, make more money from streams than album sales, and thus make more money,” and start the next with “Music streaming services, such as Pandora and Spotify, are legal companies that operate within the limits of the law.” It’s evident that these two ideas simply don’t belong next to each other, as there’s very little connection. Hence, in order to resolve this, I was advised by Megan McIntrye “to [create] a reverse outline in which you describe the purpose or main idea of each paragraph.” I found the reverse outline extremely helpful, as it made organizing my four paragraphs into a simple task of ordering four main idea statements into a logical order. After utilizing the reverse outline, my final draft had much better organization. Instead of jumping between positives and negatives, my final draft first focuses on the negatives and then the positives. Moreover, I even was able to partition each positive/negative section into distinct aspects, like streaming’s positive financial influence. Overall, the reverse outline strategy proved to be effective for me, and greatly helped with my organization in the literature review, and was a technique I even used for my Case Study.
In my Case Study, I was able to connect my main ideas much better because of the reverse outline. However, the Case Study was different from the Literature Review in that the Case Study was argumentative. Therefore, organization was no longer just a matter of connecting ideas in a logical manner, but also presenting them in an order that makes your argument the most persuasive. In my initial draft of the case study, I presented my counter argument, that Spotify has a positive impact on artists, last. While I attempted to bring back my main argument with concluding sentences such as, “Thus, because streaming takes away album revenue from artists, its positive effect in terms of reducing piracy is still ultimately detrimental to artists,” ultimately ending with the counter argument hurt my main argument. In my conference with Megan McIntrye, we discussed strategies for presenting information. A main point that we came across was that by finishing with a counter argument, the reader is left with that sentiment after finishing the paper. Hence, it would make my paper and argument much stronger if I instead started with the counter argument. This way, I would be able to finish with my main argument. Hence, in my final draft, I moved my counter argument to the beginning, right after the “Background Info” section. Through this revision, I realized that organization itself is a rhetorical strategy, and is certainly something I will keep in mind in the future when writing argumentative pieces.
Finally, for my definitional text, I once again ran into organization issues. My initial script for my animation, which can be found in the “Definitional Text Info” document, was all over the place. I spent time talking about the “legal definition of privacy,” then quickly transitioned into the Target security breach, and somehow jumped into privacy on Facebook. Much of the feed back I received from peers and Professor McIntrye revolved around dividing my definition into categories. By doing so, it would not only make it easier for viewers to comprehend my definition, but also for me. In my final script and text, I split the definition of privacy up into three sectors: Corporations, Government, and Peers. In doing so, this made my definition much cleaner, and comprehendible. For example, instead of starting my definition with an elaborate discussion of the legal definition of privacy, I was able to simply state “As society and technology have gradually developed, the world has become more and more connected. Hence, I have broken privacy into three sectors: Corporations, Government, and Peers.”
In conclusion, the main issue that kept reappearing in my writing this term was organization. As the term progressed, I learned various strategies to assist my organization. I discovered the strategy of a reverse outline, which greatly helped the ordering of my main ideas in both my Literature Review and Case Study. In addition, the different styles of the literature review, case study, and definitional text helped me understand that organization is in fact a rhetorical strategy that should be used to further the purpose of the paper. Now understanding the role and importance of organization, I genuinely feel as though I have greatly progressed as a writer, and am looking forward to using these techniques and strategies in the future.