Issue For March 8, 2007
The Purdue Writing Lab will be closed during the week of March 12th - March 16th for Spring Break.
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
Can you please describe what a writer's style is? Also, what writing style is it when your author is writing a fictional story through the eyes of a child?
Thank you for your inquiry.
Style is closely associated with genre types. For example, let's say that we have a topic: the effects of war marriage. One writer might write a poem, another writer might research and write a technical paper, another writer might create a write a blog, etc. Every writer's style is unique and may vary according to everything from word choice (lexicon) to tone to sentence structure to manuscript structure. There are no "set" styles, expecially when it comes to creative writing.
Aside from distinct genre types (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, research, etc.), authors write differently. Let's consider a fiction writer. One fiction writer might use a great deal of description, more show-not-tell type of writing. Another writer might use more dialogue rather than reflective or omniscient type of writing. Another writer might use action, while another might leave more to the reader's imagination.
It sounds like what you're asking about is actually point of view. If a story is told from a child's point of view, this can definitely affect the style in which the story is written. For example, depending on the age of the child narrator, the lexicon might be very simplistic. Also, children tend to see and understand the world very differently than adults.
If you're interested in learning more about writing fiction, point of view, and style, a wonderful resource is Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, which is now in its 7th edition.
The OWL Help Nest
Each week we publish Purdue OWL News readers' requests for advice or information and the responses from other Purdue OWL News readers.
Hello, I am writing a letter but I am not sure about a statement. Please help correct the following sentence if it needs to be corrected: "It really made my life easier as a supervisor and helped my crew elevate its performance." --LEE, New York
I see two ways to improve this sentence. The first is to replace the pronoun "It" with a noun, e.g., "The new policy really ..." This will avoid any possible confusion over the antecedent of the pronoun. Second, the primary meaning of "elevate" is "to make higher." A more appropriate word would be "improve," meaning "made it better." And it wouldn't hurt to drop the adverb "really."
Is this letter to your mom or your boss? Different audiences have different expectations. In any case, the sentence is schizophrenic. "It really made my life easier" is informal and breezy. "Helped my crew elevate its performance" is sporting a stuffed shirt. I'd guess the letter is aimed at a professional audience. In this case, avoid "really" (that flabbiest of all words) and write "It made my life much easier." Avoid "elevate its performance" (fancy-pants phrase) and write "helped my crew perform better."
--Robert Rosser, University of Maryland, Europe
While this sentence isn't wrong it makes for rather difficult reading. I would try something along the lines of this sentence, "As a supervisor, it made my life easier and helped my crew elevate its perfromance."
--John Lugg, Homeschool Student
In your business letter writing example at your printable handout site, you say to use a colon : after the salutation. I have always assumed that it was a comma. Is this only for business letters and is this an American standard and, therefore, is the British standard different? --Ian Munro, Weifang University, Shandong, China
Business writing is more formal and standardized by convention. For example the number of lines skipped betweeen the date, the address, salutation, body, closing, and enclosures. If it's a personal letter, a comma is more correct and a colon would look stuffy (formal).
--Sarah May, Omaha, NE Omaha Public Schools
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning? --Ana D., Worcester, Mass
One of the advantages for me is not having to be at a specific place at a specific time. This is great for me as I (1) write best during the late night to early morning hours and (2) have health issues that have often prevented me from attending class in person.
One disadvantage calls to mind the old adage, "out of sight, out of mind." If you don't have to physically attend a class, it may be difficult to schedule your time to include working for your online class.
Another disadvantage is the loss of feedback from your classmates and instructors that you would otherwise have in a face-to-face classes. Yes, you can email, blog, and instant message but many times people will hold back what they want to say or what they think because once it is put in writing, it is "official." We don't want to be thought stupid, rude, or unthinking so we don't participate as easily in distance learning situations when the other participants are basically unknown to us.
The best online classes, IMHO, are those where the participants already have developed a relationship (at a minimum) with their instructor and their classmates.
--Leslie Antley, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, Texas
The advantages of distance learning are numerous. You can have access to teachers across the globe and you can communicate with these instructors via e-mail or snail mail. On online classes you can talk about class topics and discuss the issues that surround the topics with other students, you can have direct access to Internet links for a more enriched learning experience, and you can meet other students from around the globe. And these are just a few of the advantages.
There are also disadvantages to distance learning. You canít speak face to face with your teacher, itís harder to catch cheaters, and it communication between you and your teacher isnít often instantaneous.
--John Lugg, Homeschooled Student
I'd tried distance learning twice. Once it was a positive experience and once it was terrible. Differences- on the positive side. Though the class met online using Blackboard, students could also go to the community college and talk face to face with the professor. Questions asked online were answered w/in 24hrs. Course in LIbrary Science was at AA level. The second time (and a terrible 2 semsters) the course was via satelite bounced to 5 sites across Ohio. (Bounced b/c there were constant boondoggles that didn't get fixed). This was a masters level course toward degree. Prof. rarely got back to the students. One time, not enough test materials were forwarded to the location where we met for satelite mtgs. But most irritating was lectures were often interrupted w/technical problems. We'd sit for 30-45 minutes. Once it was 2-1/2 hrs! There was little collegiate experience. I already had a master's from a traditional campus and I sorely missed the regular interaction w/profs and other students. I would be very hesitant to go into a degree program though DL.
--Sarah May, Omaha Public Schools
Why is it that the response "You're welcome" is rarely used in broadcast media (TV, radio)? When someone says, "Thank you..." invariably the other person says "Thank you." When and why did "Your welcome" go out of style? What does is mean anyway? Thanks, Sarah --Sarah May, Omaha, NE
When the person doing the stand-up (at the remote site) ends the broadcast, the presenter that is in the studio thanks her for the intervention. At the same time, the on-site reporter thanks the studio reporter for the "invitation to speak". They can't really say bye on tv so the main role of this thanks-thanks dialog is of an acknowledgment of the end of the intervention. It serves more as a polite (and TV-acceptable) way to say "bye".
No one is actually doing any favor or helping out with something, this is why "you're welcome" is not appropriate. Saying "you're welcome" assumes a giver-receiver status, which is not the case here (the two reporters are just working together; there is not really a situation of one helping another).
Hope it helps! --George, Montreal,Canada, McGill University
Next Week's Questions
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What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...Terms and Conditions of Fair Use. We have made significant changes to our Fair Use policy. Please review the changes here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/551/01.
- OWL Eye On...Transferred Handouts. Several new handouts appeared on the OWL this week: Writing Report Abstracts: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/656/01/; Sales Letters: 4 point action closing: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/655/01/; and Business letters http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/654/01/.
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...ESL Conversation Groups.. If English is not your native language and you need listening and speaking practice in English in an informal atmosphere, you are welcome to join an ESL conversation group in the Writing Lab at any or all of the scheduled times listed. There is no need to apply or register--just drop in! Conversation groups run: Monday 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.; Wednesday 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Thursday 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.; and Friday 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- OWL Eye On...Spring Break Closings. The Purdue Writing Lab will be closed during the week of March 12th - March 16th for Spring Break.
- OWL Eye On...Writing Lab Spring 2007 Schedule.. The Writing Lab is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During this time, students are invited to use our computers, ask for a handout, read or study in the lab, or use any self-instruction materials that are available. Tutors are available for appointments during the following times: Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For most (but not all) of the times listed for tutorial appointment, there is also drop-in tutorial help available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To make an appointment or to see whether there is a wait for drop-ins, call us at 494-3723..
This week's OWL News was edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll, OWL Coordinator.