May 8 critique

We got some good stuff in the newsletter today! Can’t wait to talk about it. But, for now, allow me a moment of sappiness. (It’s like happiness but with an S. Don’t judge me.)

Guys, I loved working with you this semester! We had lots of great stuff and I’m excited for what summer and fall will bring. For those graduating, I am so proud of you! Y’all got the stuff to do well! Just remember us when you’re accepting your awards.

Okay, that’s over. Let’s get into the critique.

That lede on the dean candidate story is crisp! Very active. This is something I talked about in the last critique and I’m glad that it translated into good writing.

Watch the word choice and phrasing with “international state of liberal arts”. In this context it means the role or the state of liberal arts study globally. However, reading the story, I believe it means taking local liberal arts study to a global level. See the difference? Sometimes it’s the right words but it’s in the wrong order, or the right order but the wrong words. You have to be careful.  

Watch for quotes that aren’t doing the work. This quote isn’t doing the word you think it is.

“At SDSU, we’ve been conducting longitudinal studies to answer the question ‘Does it matter to study the liberal arts?’ ” Wong said.

Eh. But this quote is doing some work.

“I have engaged every department, every major director in the College of Letters,” Wong said. “We found that indeed, it increased the intellectual ability, the skills, the conceptualization and so forth.”

This one is telling the reader something. It’s showing action. It’s showing the expertise of the source (which, other than you have to quote him is why we talk to sources). This is a better quote.  The first can be paraphrased into the transition and then this quote can do it’s job better.

Looking at the Senate Bill story. Love that the lede is straight and to the point. However, what kind of insurance, there so many — health, car, death, renter’s, etc. Let’s be specific.

The structure is pretty sound here. I’ve made a note about this transition.

Adam Fogel, architecture sophomore and Pro-life Mavericks public relations officer, thinks everyone has the right to choose, but that abortion should be the last choice.

“I don’t agree with [the bill] at all,” Fogel said. “I don’t believe that women should have to pay something else on top of it.”

Remember to think of transition and quotes as one unit, not separate.  Quotes should do some heavy lifting. Here it’s not a strong quote but a necessary quote as it establishes the point of view of the source. However, the transition is not setting it up appropriately. The transition in this case should be about the bill. Right now it reads like it’s about abortion in general. Also, the quote has something called a “bracket”, meaning that the first part of the quote is a throw away.  

Here’s an example. You ask a child who just got off a ride at six flags if he liked the ride. He’ll say something like this: “I like it. It was fun. I liked the way it went around and around.”

That first part, the I like it/It was fun  are the brackets. The quote is “I liked the way it went around and around.”

Brackets are good in that they make great transition fodder. So in the Senate Bill story the “I don’t agree with (the bill) at all” is the bracket. It belongs in the transition. The quote that needs to be doing the work and is is the second part. “I don’t believe that women should have to pay something else on top of it.”

And with that, I’ll cut it right here. Full critique on the board. See you at the party!

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About Icess Fernandez Rojas

Icess is a writer, professor, and blogger. She is a graduate of Goddard College's MFA program. Her work has been published in Rabble Lit, Minerva Rising Literary Journal, and the Feminine Collective's anthology Notes from Humanity. Her nonfiction has appeared in Dear Hope,, HuffPost and the Guardian. She is a recipient of the Owl of Minerva Award, a VONA/Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation alum, and is also a Kimbilio Fellow. She's currently working on her first novel.