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Four Types and Writing Style
The descriptions of written essays presented below exemplify the four basic
approaches to narrative writing: the scientific, the theoretical, the mythic,
and the phenomenological. Most students' writing (in the absence of clear
criteria for how to write about an event) falls into these four basic
categories. The types come from combining the middle two cognitive dimensions:
sensation-intuition and feeling-thinking.
|THE MYTHIC (SF)|
Although myths may carry many symbolic meanings and may serve
a number of cultural functions, they are, at their very core, stories about
people. It is that sense of a myth that is the focus of this approach to writing
history. As you read Robin's essay, pay attention to how she emphasizes the
people of the park and how she fashions the random events that she observed into
a story with a beginning, middle and end.
|THE PHENOMENOLOGICAL (NF)|
Phenomenology is a school of philosophy that holds, in brief,
that we cannot know concrete reality with any certainty; what we can know,
however, and what philosophers should investigate, is our reactions to concrete
reality. As you read Susan's essay, pay attention to how she emphasizes her
reactions to what happened in the park without describing, at least in detail,
what actually happened.
|THE THEORETICAL (NT)|
Some writers, like Linda, are more concerned about accurately
describing concrete reality; others, like Jeremy, are more interested in
developing ideas or theories that will explain what reality is and what it
means. As you read Jeremy's essay, pay attention to his efforts to understand
and describe "history."
|THE SCIENTIFIC (ST)|
Although the term "science" covers a wide range of
meanings, it is used here in its most common and restricted sense: science is
the accurate observation of a concrete reality. As you read Linda's essay, pay
attention to how she tries to accurately describe the "things" of the
park, the buildings, sidewalks,
benches, and so forth.
1. Explore your own style preferences. Do you value one kind of writing over
2. Try assigning writing using each of the 4 styles periodically.
3. Use clear rubrics spelling out what kind of writing style is called for.