Welcome to the second gauntlet!
Accepting this week's writing challenge means penning no more than 500 words (roughly two typed pages if the text is double-spaced). Your first two sentences must be, “The leaves! They’re burning!”
After that dramatic opening, treat this writing challenge as an exercise in crafting a great opening for a story. Make sure that you:
Introduce your main character.
Define the setting, which means the time and place of the story.
Show the danger stemming from the fire.
When you've revised and edited your paragraph, save it as Gauntlet 2 [Insert Your Name Here]. For example, my file would be named Gauntlet 2 Mr Chance. Before Friday, 20 November, email your response to the challenge to mchance at theregisschool dot org.
Recently I’ve been asked about the acceptability of Grammarly as a tool for students to use to improve their writing. I’m not a fan of Grammarly, and I strongly prefer my students not use it. My concerns about Grammarly are two-fold.
First, Grammarly is to good writing what McDonald’s is to good hamburgers. McDonald’s makes hamburgers, millions of them a day, and those burgers are adequate. I’m hungry, I eat a McDonald’s hamburger, and I’m no longer hungry. McDonald’s hamburgers are cheap, mass produced, and identical. A good hamburger, in contrast, is prepared by hand, seasoned by hand, cooked to just-rightness with a watchful eye and an understanding of what pleases the human palate.
Grammarly encourages McDonald’s writing. It’s adequate. The end result communicates well enough, clearly enough, but is likely to diminish the personality of the writer, to mute the writer’s voice. I don’t like that. Teaching “voice” is for me the hardest thing to teach about writing, but that doesn’t mean voice isn’t important. I want my students to write, to write well, and to write in such a way that best expresses their individualities.
My second concern about Grammarly is more philosophical. Grammarly represents yet another way to externalize human knowledge. My fear is that a student who is just starting to master the intricacies of the English language, who is just starting to hear his own voice, who is just starting to pay heed to his own voice, will develop a reliance on Grammarly’s artificial brain, and that artificial brain, no matter how cleverly programmed, is not a human brain. Reliance on Grammarly might produce an essay that earns an A, but it doesn’t produce a student who understands the English language, who understands how to write well in a way that best expresses the contents of his heart.
For further consideration, these two articles do a fine job of explaining some of Grammarly’s shortfalls.
"Grammarly Premium Makes A Lot Of Mistakes" by Jacob Bergdahl
"Grammarly Fixed a Security Vulnerability, but It Still Can’t Fix Our Writing" by Jacob Brogan
I've heard rumors that Regis Knights have taken up gauntlet one and are busy coming up with their wrong answers. Meanwhile, another gauntlet nears throwing time. This Friday, we have a hot topic.
Welcome to the first gauntlet!
Accepting this week's writing challenge means penning about 250 words (roughly one typed page if the text is double-spaced). With those words, answer these questions with wrong answers only:
What is the creature in the picture above?
How did you end up with one as a pet?
Why have you come to regret owning it?
When you've revised and edited your paragraph, save it as Gauntlet 1 [Insert Your Name Here]. For example, my file would be named Gauntlet 1 Mr Chance. Before Friday, 13 November, email your response to the challenge to mchance at theregisschool dot org.
We're two days away from me throwing down the first gauntlet. What's that? You want a hint about the writing challenge's topic. Okay.
The Knights of the Mightier Pen gather in the hallowed halls of the Regis School in Houston, Texas, to share their tales and poems.