The following notes come from a student
practice session on writing improvement. Includes samples of student
writing and teacher comments (in italics).
The writer, Anne Lamott, in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
, suggested our topic today.
Student Lunch Experiences
We have lunch or dinner at 3:30 and in the middle of the day I eat a little food, like cheese and bread.
like specifics, the "cheese and bread." Cheddar cheese is not the same
as cream cheese. Bagels are not the same as croissants. Use the actual
name of the things you eat and you will be more interesting.
cannot remember what I had in my lunch the day before yesterday, but I
can still clearly smell the delicious golden-coloured fried beans that
one of my classmates had in his lunch in the primary school 20 years
ago. Every time I think about it, I cannot help tasting them even
though there is nothing there.
The student begins honestly. Readers feel comfortable when the writer admits he or she is human, just like them.
a contrast word like "but" gets the readers attention. Then he follows
with colour and smell. Smell is the strongest of the communicating
I usually had my lunch at the
office and there were 20 people in the same office. Lunch was the
happiest time for all of us because we seldom communicated except at
lunch time. At lunch, we showed the others what we had brought. If
someone had dumplings for lunch, she or he would be asked, "May I eat
one of them?" Then this guy might not have enough dumplings for lunch
because the others had eaten them all.
student establishes the setting first: an office with a fairly large
group. The idea that we show others our lunch and share it is very
interesting. Remember your reader! Another strong point is the use of
dialogue (actual spoken words). She ends with a bit of humour.
Our staff lunchroom is a small intimate place where two or three staff
members eat together. One remarkable thing is how dirty the microwave
is after only two weeks of classes! We sit together there at a round
table and chat. This week, of course, we had to talk about how much
snow we had at our house and how long was the drive to work last
Wednesday. Also interesting is what other teachers bring to eat. I'm a
leftover man, often, so this week I had noodles with a tomato sauce. On
the side I had sweet potatoes. My wife said to me in the morning that I
would never be able to eat all that food. She was wrong! Another staff
member usually brings a plain white bread sandwich with only meat
inside. Boring! Sometimes, I get soup from the cafeteria downstairs. My
favourite is the carrot soup with ginger. You should try it sometime.
One thing for sure, having lunch in the staff room is good for me. If
you walk by there you will surely hear laughter coming from under the
door. Teachers at lunch are a less-than-serious bunch! (196 words;
first draft writing by Brad Hyde)