To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, the first draft of anything isn't worth much. It's not too much different when you first start out as a writer. Even if your work is above par, it can still use some polishing, and that's where guided writing techniques will help you. By following a set of rules, you can hone specific writing skills as you write a draft of a story that fits a prescribed scenario.
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What Is Guided Writing?
Guided writing is the practice of writing under a set of rules provided by an instructor. Though this may seem limiting, in fact it allows you to start with your existing skill set and sharpen the tools you already have in your toolbox. Through group critiques, one-on-one conferences with your instructor and discussion with students who have had similar assignments, it is likely that your skill as a writer will be greatly improved through these guided exercises.
What Are the Rules?
The rules are whatever your instructor wants them to be. The important thing is that there are limits, whether in the form of a beginning and ending sentence required for your piece, words you must use or a specific plot line you must follow. While the format is flexible, once the rules are established, it's important that you work within them. Inside this orderly framework you writing talent can blossom.
Critiquing your work is an essential part of any sort of writing instruction, but it takes on special significance in guided writing exercises. In both group and individual critiques, your instructor and classmates will talk about how well the goals of the assignment were met and the way the author worked within the framework of the rules. As most guided writing exercises are also used to focus on honing and expanding specific skills, your instructor will talk to you about your skill in the targeted area and how you can improve that dimension of your writing.
Because of the rules used in guided writing, which sets it apart from other methods of teaching writing, your instructor can make a framework within the exercise to target a specific skill-set that he or she believes the class or group within the class needs to improve. To facilitate this, your instructor will normally ask you to pay specific attention to certain aspects of your writing, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation, style, tone, sentence structure or any other element of the craft. A series of focused exercises can also be used to enhance overall writing ability and challenge the authors' creativity.
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