Process Post #6

written and posted Nov 27 by Mallory Mariano


The topic of readability is one that, historically, has been somewhat of a sensitive topic personally speaking. The definition of readability, according to Google, is as follows:

Screenshot of the definition readability according to google

I think that in academia, there is this underlying expectation that students are, upon entry into First Year courses for instance, supposed to possess a certain level (or standard) of reading and writing comprehension institution-wide. What I mean by this is, students are expected to adhere to a level of skill in their writing that, when scrutinized, adheres to a pre-set standard. Whether this be grammar, punctation, style, cultivation of creative voice, and the like.

Truth be told, this untold, unspoken, though very much present expectation of students has somewhat personally impacted the quality of my writing, especially in my first few years of post-secondary education. I can gladly say that, in my second-to-last semester of my undergraduate degree program, I have arrived at a place where my prose, style, and technique, are palatable. That is, of course, not to say that I have decided to stop writing for the rest of my life and have deigned to remain stationary at my current level of capabilities (quite the contrary, if I am being honest). Rather, a combination of my education (thus far) and my ‘hobbies’ have allowed me to cultivate a creative voice that I can truly take pride in. I am aware that this is a pedestrian observation to be making, but a part of me cannot help but take immense pleasure in a skillset that is otherwise not widely possessed or commonly held.

However, with that being said, readability and ‘flow’ are two things that I find myself constantly battling against in my own work. I find the notion of reading back my own writing quite excruciating, and just something that I would rather not do, ever. It is quite a toxic habit to possess, especially as a writer trying to be taken seriously; during the drafting phase of any project I am working on, I will do this thing where I will critically ‘hone in’ on to creation and construction of sentences, alongside grammar and punctuation, while writing simultaneously. Like scanning my own writing, while in the very midst of writing the sentence itself. This process of self-editing can be incredibly interfering and disruptive to my overall production, and is a habit that I am continuously trying to break.

I acknowledge that I rarely read back my own work, especially after completion. This specific approach has, so far, worked fairly well, but a part of me believes this to be hubris. This approach has also resulted in some interesting prose, in a sense that when read back retrospectively (by myself), screams an urgent and pressing need for some heavy editing. The below excerpt was pulled from a term paper that I authored from a previous course, on romance novel publication design history:

“In the sphere of commerce, culture, and the arts – evidence of the social rights movements of the second and third waves of feminism, that speak to the minutiae of both eras’ aesthetics, can be seen encoded in design approaches. Nowhere is this clearer than with the design evolution of the romance novel, of which this paper will discuss in great length. If “studies of romance readers suggest that a third of all women who read, read romance novels,” (Lee, 2008, p. 52) – it can be reasonably inferred that approaches in the publishing industry have moulded, or at the very least adhered to, the political and social considerations marring the time periods in which these various publications were designed, produced, and distributed to consumers – of which women are heavily associated.”

In short, the excerpt reads grammatically sound. But my issue with this excerpt is that it feels clunky, disjointed. There is a legitimate issue with the flow of the paragraph, and I believe this would be made evident if I were to orally read the paragraph. Without a doubt, an amalgamation of awkward pauses and word choices would infect the overall flow of the paragraph. And my concerns with the readability of this excerpt (and the writing contained in this specific final paper overall) were mirrored by my professor, who despite granting me a 94% on the final paper itself, voiced concerned with the difficulties found in the readability of my academic prose.

Overall, the point I am trying to make with this post is that I recognize readability and flow to be ‘weaknesses’ on my part as a writer, an area for which I should strongly consider improving on. I hope that, through my work with this site, I am able to refine my prose with consideration to readability. That, but the end of the course, there will have been some kind of improvement on my end, that I can truly be proud of.

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