My typical style involves a billowy scarf and a pencil-thin mustache. Sometimes when I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll add a beret and shiny pantaloons.
Just kidding. I don’t wear these things, and I’m not talking
about that kind of style.
Although we consultants are able to apply a certain level of
adaptability when necessary, we all tend to employ a basic approach or default
style during our Writing Center consultations. For example, while I’ve noticed
some of us really dive in at the sentence level (some won’t budge until each
one is “right”), I’ve tended to be a bit less prescriptive there.
I am always primarily concerned with the soundness of the thesis
and whether the body paragraphs follow through with it, but when it comes to
the sentences themselves, other than correcting grammar issues that obscure
meaning or hinder readability (such as comma splices and run-ons), I tend to
leave them alone.
To clarify, I guess you can say that I tend to focus more on
content (or “ideas”) than on style; on what
is being said rather than how it is
being said. For example, I’d focus more on eliminating unnecessary repetitions
or irrelevant information (as it affects content) rather than, say, the rhythm
and flow based on the length of the sentences, or even vocabulary (as long as
the word is not entirely incorrect to the intended meaning). This sometimes
means letting a few awkward phrases slip through, as well as some of those
dreaded “passive” sentences. However, if they leave with solid ideas and
logical organization, I consider the session a success, the time well spent.
But like the seasons, styles change. For me, that season is this
coming Fall, when I will be working at the Writing Center’s Journalism
Satellite. This change means I’ll need to be all about style. Associated Press
Style, that is. Soon I’ll be required to focus on exactly how things are
written at the sentence (and even at the word) level, because AP Style calls
for some very specific guidelines in addition to its general guiding principles
of “consistency, clarity, accuracy, and brevity” (Purdue OWL). I’m very much
looking forward to the change, and am learning as much as possible in the
meantime. I’m looking forward to becoming stylish.
Maybe I should trade in my beret for a newsboy cap.
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