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Cutting Clutter. October 17 th , 2013. Learning Target:. Students will be able to understand the word “clutter” as it applies to writing. Students will be able to find clutter in their own writing. Learning Criteria for Success.

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cutting clutter

Cutting Clutter

October 17th, 2013

learning target
Learning Target:
  • Students will be able to understand the word “clutter” as it applies to writing.
  • Students will be able to find clutter in their own writing.
learning criteria for success
Learning Criteria for Success
  • I can listen and participate in a discussion about simplicity & clutter, adding to my notes/knowledge of the subject.
  • I can go back through my timed essay and put brackets [ ] around the clutter.
clutter is the disease of american writing pg 7
“Clutter is the disease of American writing.” (pg. 7)
  • Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important.
    • What does he mean by this?
  • The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.
    • Get rid of any words that don’t serve a purpose
    • Get rid of repetitive adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc.
  • Clear thinking becomes clear writing
    • Know what you want to say (have a plan)
    • Execute that plan in an efficient and intelligent manner.
example pg 8
Example: (pg. 8)

“Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal building and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.”

Simplify:

“Tell them, that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something across the window.”

you can sound intelligent without adding uneccesary words
You can sound intelligent without adding uneccesary words!
  • Cutting clutter & Simplifying IS NOT “dumbing down.”
  • You are simply taking out words that don’t have a function in a sentence!
example
Example:
  • This carelessness can take any number of different forms. perhaps a sentence that is so excessively long and cluttered that the reader, hacking is way through all the verbiage, simply doesn’t know what the writer means.
  • CUT THE CLUTTER: put brackets around what can be taken out
  • This carelessness can take any number of [different] forms. Perhaps a sentence that is so excessively [long and] cluttered that the reader, hacking is way through [all] the verbiage, simply doesn’t know what [the writer] means.
we live in a world full of distractions
We live in a world FULL of distractions.
  • “The reader is someone with an attention span of about 30 seconds.” (Zinsser 9)
  • “If the reader is lost it’s usually because the writer hasn’t been clear enough” (Zinsser 9)
  • Examples:
    • Switching pronouns in the middle of a sentence
    • Switching tenses.
    • Poorly constructed sentences that could be read in a number of ways.
examples
Examples
  • Switching Pronouns:
    • It is very easy foroneto open a program in our newest operating system, allyouhave to do is click the corresponding icon.
    • Where did they go wrong?
    • It is very easy for one to open a program in our newest operating system, all one has to do is click the corresponding icon.
examples switching pronouns
Examples: Switching Pronouns
  • In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, we find the narrator to be one of the few successful characters in terms of moral development. However, even the narrator, you soon realize, is seriously flawed.
  • [We've shifted from the first-person plural "we" (quite common when writing about literature) to the second-person, singular "you."]
  • In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, we find the narrator to be one of the few successful characters in terms of moral development. However, even the narrator, we soon realize, is seriously flawed.
switching tenses
Switching tenses:
  • In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, the narrator is one of the few truly successful characters in terms of moral development. However, she was also seriously flawed in some ways.
  • What’s wrong with this sentence?
  • In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, the narrator is one of the few truly successful characters in terms of moral development. However, she is also seriously flawed in some ways.
clutter
Clutter
  • Euphemisms - a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
    • Examples:
      • Garbage collectors – waste disposal personnel
      • Town Dump – Volume reducing unit

“Clutter is political correctness gone amok” (15)

other things to look for
Other things to look for:
  • Explaining how we propose to explain:
    • “It should be pointed out”
    • “it is interesting to note”
    • “I might add”
    • “I will not explain”
other things to look for1
Other things to look for:

1.) The adverb that carries the same meaning as the verb

-Smiled happily

2.) The adjective that states a known fact

- tall skyscraper

3.) little qualifiers that weaken any sentence

- a bit

- sort of

- in a sense

4.) Sentences that repeat what was already said

assignment
Assignment:
  • Go back through your timed essay and put brackets around all your clutter – don’t cross out.
  • Be ruthless!
  • Be fair
  • Read carefully
  • When you are done. Give your timed essay a grade for each category and an overall score (on rubric) – write a justification for that grade on the