Bonjour à tous! Today I would like to talk a little bit about the stages of writing as it relates to writing, revision, and rewriting.
In writing, many of the stages are solitary- you sit alone at your desk, at a coffee shop or in a library, with your thoughts and your pen and paper (or keyboard)- but it is also a very social activity. When you write you write for other people; there is a specified audience. Take this piece for example, I am writing to you, a user of IB French Survival Guide, looking for guidance and help in French. When you write an essay or paper, you are writing for your teacher, instructor, or professor.
The best way to ensure that you are communicating successfully is to try your work out on real readers. Professional writers for example, share their writing all the time. They share their work with friends, family, colleagues, mentors before they submit their work for publication.
In French class, you already have a group of readers who can offer you the one thing you do not have: a fresh perspective on your own writing. Your classmates can tell you if they are confused by your sentence structure, delighted by your examples, or curious to know where your argument will lead you to next. Best of all, they can give advice, suggesting the perfect word for your analogy, a new sequence for your argument, or an idea to put into your conclusion. Your classmates’ expertise as readers is an important resource to utilise. Everyone has different styles of reading and techniques for analyzing that they have developed over the years; use that to your advantage and focus your discussions on the ideas, organisation, and style of your paper. Because your classmates may not be experts in French grammar, I highly recommend you seek out your instructor or a grammar guide for assistance with grammar related questions.
If you are still reading, it means you are really serious about advancing and elevating your writing in French. I now challenge you to create a small writing group with two or three other classmates. By creating this writing group, you will be giving yourselves an advantage over your other classmates all the while developing better writing skills. In your writing group, take turns reading each other’s drafts; giving one another the opportunity to be the writer and sometimes the editor. As a writer, you gain the direct evidence of your audience’s needs; as an editor, you become more skilled at analysing drafts, a talent you can apply to your own writing. Although the reason for sharing your drafts with your classmates is to give each other suggestions for revision, you get the additional benefit of conversing with each other in French.
Once you have formed your writing group, make sure to schedule a time and place to hold your very own atelier d’écriture (writer’s workshop). Print out three (3) to four (4) copies of your writing assignment: paper, piece, story, exposé, article, whatever it may be. Exchange your written pieces so that everyone in your writing group has a copy of everyone’s written work. If you have the time, exchange papers the day before meeting to allow your group members to take home your written sample so that they have time to read and write comments on them. On the day you meet, your group will discuss one written piece at a time, with each author leading the discussion of his or her own paper. Be sure that you actually talk with one another and provide additional feedback to what is already written on the drafts you exchanged with one another.
These ateliers d’écriture function best when members are supportive and when each one takes responsibility for improving all the drafts of the group. Collectively, the group needs to come up with the strategies for improvement, not simply criticisms. That is not to say you should give false praise or ignore obvious problems, but you should ask questions about what the author is trying to do and make concrete suggestions for revision. It is one thing to say, ‘ your writing sucks, sorry, too bad’. BE a supportive group member and instead say, ‘your writing is terrible, but here is how you can fix it. Instead of…. you can say….’.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a bad draft, only an unfinished one. Unlike a reviewer, whose job is to announce the strengths and deficiencies of a finished product, an editor helps the writer shape a working draft. Think of yourself as a collaborator rather than a judge. Be honest but be helpful. When you do not understand what you are reading, or something seems wrong or out of place, ask questions.
Guidelines for writers
Guidelines for editors
That is all I have for you all today! I hope you take the time to read an implement some of these strategies into your own writing process. I will be uploading a free commenting guide to the store which will also be available under the 'Ecriture' section of this site. Stay tuned for more! Merci et à bientôt!
French Language and Culture enthusiast, fashion trend-setter extraordinaire. My goal is to provide students with resources, materials, and insight that will help French Language acquisition less intimidating and more enjoyable.