Observation Writing Project: One Scene, Two Perspectives
Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see and they will not be a substitute for seeing. â€”Flannery Oâ€Connor
A way of seeing is also a way of not seeing. â€”Kenneth Burke
Here & Now Exercise
Go to a coffee shop, a park, a library, a busy intersection, the school cafeteriaâ€”any place where you can sit and write undisturbed for at least fifteen minutes. Take notes on what you perceive through your five sensesâ€”seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Notice colors, shapes, sounds, textures. Remember, no thoughts or judgments (for this part of the process)â€” only what you perceive through your five senses. You will use these notes for the next step of your writing process.
Write two descriptions of the scene you observed from two different perspectives. Each description should create a completely different dominant impression. You can do this by describing the scene first in a favorable way, making it appear pleasing and attractive, and then in an unfavorable way, making it appear unpleasant and unattractive. For example, you could describe the scene as you would see it if you were in a great mood and then again as if you were depressed. Orâ€”you can describe the scene from two different personasâ€” a student and a teacher, a boss and an employee, a parent and a child. You could observe a Tent City and describe it from the perspective of a neighbor who supports the project and then the perspective of a neighbor who doesnâ€t. However you approach the assignment, the rules are the same. Both descriptions must contain factual details and must describe the same location at the same time. You cannot, for example, change the weather for added effect. Each description should have many of the same elements. If you show us a kitchen table in one description, we want to see it in the second description too. Observe deeply, be creative with this, and have fun! (Each description, 1 paragraph.)
After you finish, write a reflection on what you learned from the assignment. Include an analysis of your two descriptions and of your process of writing them. Some students are surprised by the energy that comes from writing a negative description! Explain what insights you gained into the concept of angle of vision and about the strategies writers use to shape their readersâ€ view of a subject.
(Your reflection should be one to two paragraphs.)
Bring 3 copies of your rough draft for peer review and turn one copy in on CANVAS.
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