Part 1. “THEY SAY”

Section 1. “THEY SAY” : Starting with What Others Are Saying

This section in chapter one provides a sense of what one should do when beginning to write a paper. Graff and Birkenstein show a hypothetical scenario in which a speaker discusses the work of a sociologist with controversial findings. The authors go into detail as to why the speaker’s lecture failed to reach the audience. They basically explain that, when you first start writing a paper, you should never go into extremes. One shouldn’t overuse what other’s have said, or their own ideas. The writer should find a happy medium in between the two, while first stating what “they say” and then your own beliefs – one should state their beliefs as quickly as possible. Graff and Birkenstein also bring up how writing temples, while limiting creativity, are a good way to build a foundation for a paper.

What I learned: I had difficulties reading this section, I had to ask for assistance from an outside source, and reading the section over several amount of times. In the beginning I did not understand who “THEY” were. I came to the conclusion that “THEY” where the  people who have discussed and analyzed the topic before.

Section 2. “HER POINT IS” : The Art of Summarizing

“A good summary requires balancing what the original author is saying with the writer’s own focus.” That essentially is the entirety of this section. Graff and Birkenstein, they attempt to encourage the use of summarizing in writing, explaining that writers shouldn’t shy away from using them and instead act as if they had wrote it themselves, so that they could build upon it themselves with their own ideas. The authors, however, do warn the reader that there are certain things that they should avoid while using summaries – the two, most major of with being the accidental slippage of personal bias into summaries of others’ works and the tendency to start writing boring, “list” summaries. To help support the idea of not boring the audience, they, the authors, explain that the reader should use more descriptive action verbs when writing and even provide a handy list of examples.

What I learned: I essentially already knew not to add personal bias into summaries, however I didn’t actually realize that list summaries are considered unappealing to an audience. In addition, I didn’t know to use verbs to fit the action, the list of verbs they provide are quite useful.

Section 3. “AS HE HIMSELF PUTS IT” : The Art of Quoting

This section, Graff and Birkenstein go through how a writer should go about quoting from other works. They explain that a writer should always frame whatever quote they’re using correctly, doing so within the flow of their writing and not introducing them with phrases like “George Orwell says”, or “Charles Darwin once said”. They also bring up how a writer should go about analyzing and explaining quotes to the audience, stating that it is never a bad thing to go into great detail about such things, as it gives the reader an idea of how it is relevant to the overall paper.

What I learned: There is a lot more to quoting passages than I first expected. It’s better to over analyzing then to risk a dangling quote.


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