writing question 302

1. Process Writing. Process writing is writing that patiently describes the step-by-step process of completing some sort of task or action. For example: “[Frankie] worked very quietly—first the tray—then get out the glasses without breaking any. Now fill them with beer and let the foam settle a little and fill again” (Steibeck 54). This is a very short, straightforward example of Frankie’s process of filling the glasses with beer. It is a description of the actions he must take to complete the task, without leaving anything out.

When a writer writes about process, they are paying attention to the details of how specific actions are taken in the real world, like lighting a fire or cooking a meal. Think about all the various steps it takes to cook even the simplest meal. You must take out the ingredients, measure them with cups and utensils, turn on the stove, set the timer, etc. No task is immediate in the real world, therefore, as writers who wish to capture the truth, we must acknowledge this. By acknowledging process, a writer is addressing the fact that all creation takes time (even writing itself), therefore making their writing more believable and persuasive. It also denotes the passing of time, which is something that’s very difficult to do in writing.

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Practice. Find 2 passages in chapters 12-17 in which John Steinbeck spends a lot of time writing about process. Cite them here. Then, write a paragraph describing the process of a task that you know how to do well. This task can be anything from baking cookies to cleaning a surfboard to changing a flat tire. HINT: The key to process writing is to make sure that every sentence contains important information, and that you attend to each and every element to completing the task at hand. For example, if you’re making a peanut butter sandwich, you cannot spread the peanut butter without a knife, and you can’t do anything until you’ve removed two pieces of bread from the bread box, etc. The goal is to detail every step in the process you’ve chosen to describe in order, and not to skip anything. BUT DON’T SIMPLY LIST THE STEPS. You must write this out as a paragraph that flows and transitions from one task to the next.

2. The simple things. John Steinbeck will often spend whole paragraphs, even pages, describing simple objects or experiences in great amounts of detail. He does this for any number of reasons, though the message this seems to send in Cannery Row is that even simple living can be beautiful and complex if examined closely and honestly. Extracting complex ideas from seemingly simple or straightforward information is an important skill to any discipline, and here, we’re simply looking at it from the point of view of literature.

Practice. Find 2 passages in ch. 12-17 in which Steinbeck describes a seemingly simple situation, person, place, or thing with a lot of detail. Cite them here. Then, write your own short passage that describes something simple with a lot of detail. What you choose to describe is completely up to you, but it should not be something that immediately looks complex, ie: a car engine or something like that. In your passage, use at least some form of figurative language that appeals to one or more of the five senses, and use details!

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