1. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    Writing Center Experiences

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Masked Mole, May 14, 2016.

    Hey All,
    I'm a Writing Center consultant at my university, and it's a weird job.
    There's always some in-duh-vidual making things interesting. For instance, there's this one client who reads over his material like it's a dramatic stage production. He treats edits so seriously. I heard him begging for mercy because he messed up a definite article or something. This is actually kinda refreshing, and he's a good guy.
    In contrast, you get the psychos who book an appointment with you every week but never show up. Not only do they waste the consultants' time, but they block other students from getting help. Bonus!
    Then there are the appointments where a guy comes in with his 25 page senior thesis. Somehow, he got this far in his academic career without being able to form a sentence. You have to break it to those people gently.
    The consultants have recently agreed on an informal title for the Writing Center: Tutor Town. It's going to be a hit series on Nickelodeon.
    Did any of you have a job like this? Have any of you been a client?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My university didn't have anything like that, but I'm not surprised by your post. Another student asked me to look over her assignment and I was shocked. It was like a creative writing exercise, written in an almost chatty tone with honest to god clip art as some kind of decoration. And she was by no means unintelligent, or one of the worst in the class.

    I do something sort of similar for my day job, in that I check and edit client documents before they go out. Some of my colleagues, native English speakers with degrees, can't string a sentence together. It's depressing.
     
  3. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    You see this kind of thing frighteningly often when helping people prepare CVs — especially graduates, people who are otherwise razor-sharp corporites, but somehow think a butterfly behind their education history will make them more human to the HR people.

    Oh, the irony.


    ETA: Having said that, there is an increasing trend for chatty mission statements on CVs, which does seem to help you stand out, with the more progressive companies, at least. (Sorry, off topic, never mind.)
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I was a writing tutor for a while when I was a junior and senior. My experience wasn't as bad as yours, though I can sympathize about some people not being able to write even basic sentences. It's frustrating sometimes, but all jobs are. At the very least, it helped improve my own writing.
     
  5. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    A little off-topic, but since you've been there, what do you recommend as an approach for someone who would like to participate in the writing critiques here at WF, but who leans toward the pedant end of the critic continuum and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings but probably can't just ignore obvious SPAG errors?
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not sure if your question was directed at the OP only but since I'm here...

    Pointing out SPAG errors is fine and is part of a good critique. If the author has specifically asked critics not to comment on SPAG, then I think it's rude to do so.

    If you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings then give feedback politely, take the 'you' out of it ("this piece has several errors" rather than "your writing is poor") and say something positive, if there is something. If I have a lot of negative things to say I usually restrict myself to two or three, because a laundry list of failings isn't encouraging to anybody.
     
  7. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    My advice is to be balanced. A good way to keep yourself honest is to have a 1/1 ratio of compliments to critiques. For instance, you could say:
    I love the dialogue. The prose has good rhythm.
    Your verb tenses disagree. Try to use fewer adverbs.
    If you only talk about the errors, people will naturally become discouraged. You have to try to motivate and correct at the same time.
     

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