Big Change, Small Correction
For our second essay we were asked to choose a piece of text that we had read in class, and analyze what makes the author of that text work or not work. There are many different parts of writing that are connected to actually make a piece of text flow. Different examples of these important parts of writing include: tone, diction, imagery, ethos, logos, and pathos, to name a few. For my essay I chose to analyze “Footstools and Furniture”, written by Keith Hjortshoj. I chose to analyze his diction, which enforces why Hjortshoj believes that the five-paragraph essay offers assistance and hindrance when one is writing an essay. There were a few things that I initially struggled with when I first sat down to write this essay. Upon meeting with Professor Metsker, she suggested changing a few words to avoid making generalizations and re-focus the paper to be about Hjortshoj’s paper.
I was really surprised when Jennifer told me that I only had to change a few words throughout my paper to make it flow better, but it made a lot of sense. The idea of analyzing a paper is taking what you have, looking at small parts of it, and trying to formulate opinions about the deeper meanings of those small parts. In my first edition my thesis statement was, “Hjortshoj encompasses strong diction in order to enhance his ideas that while a five-paragraph essay is a simple, well-organized form of writing… which leads college students to easily fall behind in their writing techniques.” In this case it seems as though it is my opinion that college students will fall behind if they use the five-paragraph essay format. It’s a big statement, and I would have to have more evidence to make such a claim. It was so helpful when she pointed this out to me, as I realized it could change my whole paper.
Upon realizing that such a minor word change could impact the rest of my paper, I decided to change my thesis statement. Now it reads, “Hjortshoj encompasses strong diction in order to enhance his ideas that while a five-paragraph essay is a simple, well-organized form of writing… which Hjortshoj implies is due to the fact that in high school students are not taught to write in a “real” way. Adding, “Hjortshoj implies” refocuses the essay on Hjortshoj, and my analysis on what Hjortshoj is saying and how. In my analysis of this implication later on in my first edit of the essay, I again made a generalized statement and said, “hardly will teachers ever go backwards to teach one how they expect them to write in college.” After looking back over my essay upon changing it to focus on what Hjortshoj believes I needed to change this sentence too. I changed this to, “Hjortshoj is implying that High school teachers are at fault for failing to teach students how to be more engaging and “real” than the first three points of their thesis.” This opened up so many new paths for my essay, as by making it about Hjortshoj and what Hjortshoj’s essay implied I had better evidence to use that strengthened my argument.
It’s quite funny how changing just a few words can rid an essay of generalizations and make it so much more focused at the same time. I have learned that it is really important to critically read one’s own paper, because they may never know what small change could really change and benefit the entire essay. I now know that I should pay attention to generalizations, as I have learned that I make them a lot. It was actually more fun to write a paper being able to analyze what I already had, instead of assuming that what I said is going to be correct. Also, I felt as though I was able to better understand the implication of my essay when I re-focused it back on Hjortshoj.