Reading, Stealing, and Writing Like a Writer by Wendy Bishop, a successful writer, reveals some insights about composing a good essay. Instead of focusing on the overall structure of an essay, she takes her concentration into the sentence level. Unlike a student writer, Wendy Bishop uniquely reads sentences. “I find sentences to be sculptural, like clay, sometimes things that writers bend, shape, and mould to their purpose” (Bishop). She sees writing an essay as creating an artwork where every component has its own place. Similarly, as making an artwork with clay, one should throw out any unnecessary wordings and sentences so that the essay can be clear and concise. Moreover, as one can use clay to structure different sharp shapes in the entire artwork, Wendy Bishop realizes that sentences have the same function.
“If you start to study sentences as a writer does, you’ll see that they’re more varied and flexible, a better instrument for exploring and expressing thought, then maybe you ever know” (Bishop). Therefore, the reader will understand that to compose a successful essay, sentences are imperative. But how can we create good sentences? Wendy Bishop suggests we use the technique of “stealing.” According to Bishop, to “steal” the sentence, we need to learn how to analyze the sentence, how sentences work in each paragraph, how they will affect the meaning that we are trying to express, and so on. She also suggests we keep a sentence book, a collection of good sentences. In that way, we can begin to imitate other successful writer’s writing and “steal” their sentence style for our own use. Bishop also suggests that there are no particular rules for writing sentences.
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“The rules we’re “given” can only address a small part of our language repertoire and are most often constraining and constricting rather than elucidating and explaining” (Bishop). Hence, to write a good essay, we need to be creative; instead of following the regular writing rules, we need to build our own writing style. In conclusion, to accomplish successful writing, one needs to keep revising the essay, and more importantly, at a sentence level. After reading Reading, Stealing, and Writing Like a Writer, I reckon that I have done a lot of practice similar to Wendy Bishop’s suggestions. I think they are accommodating and inspiring for the wiring and thinking process. I learned how to read like a writer from reading The Big Sea by Langston Hughes. From a particular chapter, the Salvation, I notice the importance of using a short sentence to help emphasise what I want to express in my essay.
By “stealing” his technique, I know to use a short sentence after a paragraph of longer compounded complex sentences to make my main point clear to the reader. In addition, I also learned how to use sound images to create a physically affect on the reader. For example, when I am trying to describe nervousness, I would not use the word nervous. Instead, I choose to write about my emotional feeling and how I see my surroundings so that the reader can put themselves in my shoes and feel how I feel. Besides the techniques from reading the Big Sea, I also learned how to shape my ideas into paragraphs from the Time Bind by Arlie Hochschild. She uses the technique of varying sentence length to make affect to the reader. By varying sentence length, the reader extracts the information differently. As a result, the readers will notice what information would the author want them to take in. In my interview writing, I am trying to use this technique at the beginning of the essay.
I want my reader to understand my character is hard working. So I used long sentences to describe the surroundings and use a short sentence to emphasize that he is the few of the people in the Evan Building who leave the office late. By taking the class CWR1A, I learned how to compose a better essay than I used to. As an international student, English is my second language. I have difficulties understanding the course martial and express my thoughts in my essay. By learning all kinds of techniques in this class, I have become a better writer and thinker. I know how to close read a text and drawing out the information hidden inside between the passages. I also learn to use different writing techniques to express my thoughts precisely on the paper. As I kept on writing and revising, I gradually fell in love with this process. I truly appreciate how CW R1A is designed and conducted. By presenting me with different skills though out course, I have become a capable writer and thinker.