Strategies for Editing and Sentence-Level Consulting
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The philosophy of writing centers, including The University of Texas's Undergraduate Writing Center (UWC), is to provide advice for writers seeking help with all parts of the writing process. As peer-tutors, writing center consultants foster a relaxed environment, approaching students and their papers in a non-authoritative and collaborative manner. Because writing is traditionally and practically a solitary process, consultants ideally serve as guides while allowing the author to retain control. At the UWC, our nondirective consulting style supports this balance. Rather than instructing students on how to improve their papers, consultants encourage them to create their own solutions. To empower students, consultants attempt to help them identify recurring issues and patterns in their writing, enabling them to better pinpoint and correct problems on their own. Given this non-directive philosophy, UWC consultants are often apprehensive when students ask for help with sentence-level editing. To many consultants, "editing" means simply telling students to correct mistakes rather than working with them to improve their relationships with the writing process. Often, consultants may even feel they must refuse to edit or proofread papers in order to avoid being prescriptive. However, editing is an integral component of the writing process. A shift in perception is necessary in order to allow consultants to confidently address local-level concerns with collaborative strategies without becoming authoritative. To understand how to effect this shift, it is first necessary to analyze the context in which this perceived conflict between non-directive consulting and local-level consulting arises, then to discuss levels of editing and the specific concerns that arise during sentence-level consulting, to contrast the prescriptive approach of teachers and the non-authoritative approach of consultants, and and finally to adopt new non-directive techniques for local-level consultations.