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Thursday, 24 August 2006

Following the workshop on Monday night, on Tuesday my tutor sent me the following e-mail:

I thought I should check in on how you felt about the workshop - and to see if it was helpful for you? I think you got a lot of good advice. But it can seem like a free for all at times, and you do need to sift the useful advice for the not so useful. You also need to listen to your own conscience on this, and work out a writing process and style that SUITS YOU whatever advice you may have got. The trick of course is to consider why people might have offered the advice and respond in ways that make the story stronger, whatever direction you choose.

I responded on Wednesday:

To be frank I was dreading it beforehand. But I found a lot of the advice consistent, which meant that there were real problems with the story that many people saw. Definitely there were too many quotes by too many people in the first six paragraphs.

Especially, I decided to expand the introduction, describe Penrith (and the shopping centre) a bit more to give readers a feel for the location. Then I lifted the position of the information about the political settlement, to make it clearer to readers what the main focus of the story would be.

I also got a lot of good pointers from the comments handed to me, especially yours. I did indeed locate the donkey vote statistics for Penrith, so I added that.

In general I felt more confident about the direction I wanted to take after the workshop. I worked on the story the same night, and rewrote it quite a bit, removing a couple of the quotes and lengthening others.

Thanks for dropping me a line about this. I feel much more confident about my story, changed the title and worked on it for a good couple of hours straight. I'm also getting some feedback later this week from a friend of mine who is a trained journalist. That should also be helpful.

I must admit that I feel a little odd about doing a complete rethink on the tone of the story, as you suggested (having "a bit of fun" with it). I don't feel confident that I can achieve the correct tone -- maybe for the longer assignment at the end of semester I'll throw caution to the wind and lash out a bit. I will probably continue to play it pretty straight but to generally tighten up the construction, as advised during class.

To which he answered straight away:

That's all good news to me, and I am glad it was so useful. Watch out in seeking advice - and getting it! - from so many sources that it doesn't push and pull you in a million directions. It sounds though from your email that you have a much more coherent grasp of things now. As for my comment on 'tone', that is something that comes from you - it was just a suggestion, but you should go your own way. I look forward to reading it!

The whole experience is very satisfactory. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

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