The rule of so what
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The Rule of So What ?. By Lori Zuba Adapted from Nancie Atwell’s: Lessons That Change Writers. A Bad Memoir. Today we are going to look at a piece of Nancie’s writing that is just terrible. It’s bad on so many levels. She believes we could spend a week finding all the faults.

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The Rule of So What ?

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The rule of so what

The Rule of So What?

By Lori Zuba

Adapted from Nancie Atwell’s:

Lessons That Change Writers


A bad memoir

A Bad Memoir

  • Today we are going to look at a piece of Nancie’s writing that is just terrible. It’s bad on so many levels. She believes we could spend a week finding all the faults.

  • But, we are reading this bad memoir together today with ONE big idea in mind: this draft doesn’t begin to answer the most basic, most important questions to be asked by ANY piece of writing:

    SO WHAT?


A bad memoir cont

A Bad Memoir, cont.

I remember that when I was in fifth grade I got really sick. My throat was raw, and all my joints ached. The family doctor said I had rheumatic fever.

I had to stay in bed for six months. I couldn’t walk up or down stairs or even go to the bathroom by myself.


The rule of so what

Cont.

When my dad came home from work at night, he’d carry me downstairs so I could watch television and be with the rest of the family, then carry me back upstairs for bedtime. Otherwise it was a lonely, boring time. All I could do was read. During the six months I had rheumatic fever I practically ate books. I made my poor mother go the library almost every day for new ones.


The rule of so what

Cont.

Finally the doctor said I could go back to school. It was one of the happiest days of my life, even though I couldn’t run or play sports for a long time.


Okay let s discuss

Okay…let’s discuss.

  • So what?

  • Nancie’s bout with rheumatic fever was one of the big experiences of her childhood, but in this draft she hasn’t begun to get at the WHY…to discover why it intrigued her enough to write about it.


The rule of so what

  • As it stands, that memoir is a description of a string of events.

  • We don’t know WHY Nancie is writing about it. She hasn’t yet figured out the reasons it stands out to her as a MEMOIR-WORTHY EXPERIENCE.


Do you understand

Do You Understand?

  • EVERY time you write, there should be an itch you are trying to scratch.

  • There should be something in the topic that intrigues you for some reason, whether you can name it or not, and your job as the writer is to find out WHY.


What nancie needs to do

What Nancie Needs to Do

  • Nancie needs to find and make a point about this time in her life.

  • She needs to find her SO WHAT?


Stay tuned

STAY TUNED

  • Tomorrow we will look at what Nancie did with this bad memoir.

  • Did she abandon it for a new topic that she could find her SO WHAT?

  • Did she feel a sense of purpose and revise her writing to find her SO WHAT In this piece?

  • Come back tomorrow to find out!!!

  • PART 2 of Bad Memoir will be shown. 


Writer s notebook activity

Writer’s Notebook Activity

  • Please tape the following handout: The Rule of SO WHAT? into your WNB.

  • Please follow along with me as I read.

  • Share 1 thing with the person next to you. What have you learned from today’s lesson?


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