In the beginning, there was the sentence: a few remarks on a literary approach to writing classes
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Any text, whether literary or academic, is a set of sentences. It is my firm belief – and has been the organizing principle of my writing classes over the years – that no stylistic excellence can be achieved until one learns to develop well-crafted, reader-friendly sentences. The goal of my paper is to demonstrate the benefits of such a sentence-centered approach to writing. Many of my writing classes have featured workshop-style exercises where students would work on anonymous fragments culled from their essays. Firstly, they would analyze and then try to improve them in terms of grammar, syntax, economy or broadly understood style; the ideal upshot would be a “correct” sentence in the reading of which they would themselves take pleasure. In my presentation, I intend to briefly describe and classify the difficulties which they would have to face. Underlying the whole enterprise has been a hope that the students will learn to value stylistic elegance and to locate its center: several words, put together to good effect, between two full stops.
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