Reflective Essay

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Nicholas Hansch
Foundations of Writing
Reflective Essay
This semester started with my knowledge of writing being nothing more than what I had
from high school. I did not feel as though there was too much to be improved upon until I wrote
my first paper. Having unique kinds of papers that had to be done, rather than the same kind of
paper every time like with previous classes, was difficult to say the least. It was tricky even
starting the papers, let alone doing them. Through these struggles, however, I have learned how
to approach a variety of situations and how I should go about actually writing under different
circumstances. Each paper a new problem would arise, often different but sometimes the same.
With each problem, though, came new solutions that would not only allow me to complete the
paper I was currently working on but also apply that knowledge to propel me into the future.
This knowledge has led me to be able to achieve the course goals that had been set in the
beginning of class.
The first course goal, composing for particular audiences and purposes, showed up in
every single piece of writing that was needed during this course. In the photograph essay, it was
made to address a large audience, anybody who would want to listen, purely because it could be
applied to so many different kinds of people. For example, I said that “He was always somebody
that I looked up to and is one of the few adults in my family of whom I can actually talk with
because we understand one another the best, at least among the members of my family”. That
statement is not one that is directed toward any specific group, it is one that almost any person
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would be able to somewhat relate to because many, if not all, people have one person that they
share a mutual understanding with whether they realize it or not. In the second essay that I did,
the review essay, the audience was much more apparent. Throughout the actual essay, the
audience was clear through the very language I used. I made it sound appealing to my audience
by applying statistics and comparing the game I was reviewing to other popular well known
games. I did this multiple times throughout the essay to reach out to my audience, such as when I
said “League of Legends boats a startling 1 billion average hours played worldwide every month,
crushing major figure heads of the gaming industry (such as Halo which, since 2004, has
received over 2 billion hours played in the total lifetime of its franchise)”. At the end of the essay,
the audience that I was trying to reach was made apparent, as it was basically stated by me
saying “League of Legends is a great game overall and one that I highly recommend to any
person wanting to venture into a new style of gaming”. I believe that the audience I was trying to
reach was made apparent and that I succeeded in getting through to them. In each of my papers,
their purposes were made clear through the context of the papers themselves. Recalling what I
had just said about my review paper, my paper’s purpose was made clear in the very last
sentence as well as throughout the paper. In the photograph essay the purpose was much
different; there were no factors of trying to persuade somebody to do something. Instead, the
purpose of the paper was to be able to incorporate pictures into the writing, adding a new
element to it and possibly giving a clearer understanding of what the paper was talking about;
instead of trying to visually image something, a picture is there to guide your train of thought and
add depth.
The second goal, compose using language and conventions appropriate to genres,
was apparent in all of my papers as well, but most prominently in the review essay and the
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ethnography essay. In the review essay, the language needed to represent the industry that I was
reviewing but at the same time talk in a way that someone who is a complete stranger to the
genre would be able to understand it. I accomplished this by providing information on words and
phrases that would be uncommon unless somebody was familiar with the industry, such as when
I said “League of Legends is in a recently new genre of games called Massive Online Battle
Arena, or MOBA for short. This genre specializes in team vs. team mechanics as the overarching
theme, but with single 1v1 or 2v2 PvP (Player vs. Player) or even just PvE (Player vs.
Environment) mechanics as well”. In my ethnography essay, the same sort of principle was
applied; I needed to make words and phrases that would be uncommon for others to hear to be
understandable by any person reading it. It was much easier for me to accomplish this during my
ethnography essay however because I was not involved with the activity like I had been with the
review essay. To address the issue of what kinds of terminology was being used in the band, I
would provide quotations from the person I interviewed in order to have more in depth
knowledge on the subject matter not only for myself, but for the people reading it. I believe that I
had succeeded in using language that was both appropriate for the genres (in these cases gaming
and band) and effective as the two papers were written for any person to know what I was
attempting to address while writing them.
The third goal, read, select, and use evidence critically to formulate and support
arguments, was used primarily in my review paper. In my review paper, I included many
statistics and overall facts about the individual game I was reviewing and the genre as a whole.
There were multiple times in the essay where I was able to input facts in the right times, making
the use of those facts effective instead of having the facts in there just for the sake of having facts.
I used the facts in such a way that it promoted the goal I was trying to achieve by the end of the
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paper, to get people who may not have been otherwise interested, interested in trying it. To use
the facts effectively I primarily used them to compare to a wide variety of common games that
are portrayed quite often in the global media, such as times when I pointed out that “The daily
average for players actively playing League of Legends is over 12 million, over 8.7 million more
than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”. Providing just a comparison would allow a person to get
their goal across, but by placing the evidence of the research I did inside of the comparison, it
makes the argument more concrete. I have learned that, through peer review and other means
that have taken place in this class, when using facts to support a claim that you are making, that
the facts should flow with the paper and not be there for the sack of being there. I know I have
learned this through the various times I embedded facts into my review essay without it
disrupting the paper’s flow.
The fourth goal, interpret and compose in a variety of media and print/non-print
genres, is best seen through both my photograph essay as well as my ethnography essay. In my
photograph essay, it was imperative that we use pictures to aid us in getting our point across.
This fits in with this goal because pictures needed to be used and they had to be relevant to the
particular thing that was trying to be conveyed at that time. The focus in the paper was to be able
to use more than just writing or print sources as the means of getting the point of the paper across
to the audience. This goal was accomplished by me, as all of the pictures I used helped the reader
develop a greater understanding as to what was happening. In the ethnography essay on the other
hand, it was more important to compose the essay while using mainly sources that came from
word of mouth. Throughout the essay I mainly used the information from the interview that I
held for the point I aimed to get across in the paper. Though it was from a non-print source, it
was very relevant to that particular paper because it showed personal experience and the personal
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experience was vital to the paper’s success. Without such quotations from the person I
interviewed, the paper would have lacked a sense of intimacy and would have seemed more
distant than it actually was. If the paper was not as personal as it was, it would not be received
nearly as well purely because of the type of paper it was. I possess the knowledge, now, that
sometimes it is better to be personal than it is to be distant; it allows the paper to show more
depth and it makes people more interested in reading it.
The fifth goal, describe and apply appropriate writing processes both individually
and in collaborative contexts, was shown in every paper that I did this semester. In my
photography essay, it was written in a way that made it come off very personal, as I would
provide insight from my life throughout the paper. The very fact that this paper was going to be
person came across in the very first sentence when I said “Looking back at my life, my uncle has
been a very influential person to me. I have learned that I have a lot in common with him
throughout our time together, he’s been like the father I never had in a sense”. The writing
process I applied in this essay was extremely different from what I needed to apply to my second
essay, the review essay. The review essay was focused more on hard facts rather than on being
personal to get a point across. I wrote it the way I did in order to make myself seem credible; if
your reader does not know that you are a credible source, they will not take anything you say in
your paper seriously. To make myself seem credible, I added hard facts several times in the
paper such as when I said “Every week there is a free rotation of 15 different “champions” (there
are currently 111 released champions) that are free to use to players,” and “Riot (the company
that made League of Legends) makes brand new “champions” (the characters you pick to be
played in each game), every 2-3 weeks, making it an ever changing landscape that can make new
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players ever so eager to join in”. I needed to use facts such as those stated in the previous
sentence in order to establish credibility and to be able to be taken seriously.
Unlike the first two essays which focused on being personal or factual, the third essay,
the ethnography essay, I used a combination of the two. I used a combination of the two because
if it were all just personal experience with no outside information, the essay would have been
very close-minded and would not have had any point to it; if it were all factual, readers would
have no interest in reading it. To avoid those problems of either extreme I decided to apply both
of them in my essay. I did this by adding my own personal opinions and thoughts, while also
applying the information I received from several sources. I did this throughout the entire paper,
embedding quotations that provided insight into the band activities while also providing my own
personal opinions and thoughts on the subject matter. An example of a section where I was
personal and then used a quote to provide a more concrete answer is when I said “The ‘typical’
marching band student is one that is thought to be smart, nerdy, socially awkward, have a horrid
taste in fashion, a dislike of athletes who don’t excel in academics, and pretty much hates
anybody who isn’t in band,” which then lead to the person I interviewed staying that “Obviously
being called a band geek is a stigma. In reality, band has a huge variety of people”. Using this
technique I was able to effectively incorporate being personal and adding factual information at
the same time, all in order to make the paper work as well as it did.
In conclusion, I have learned many things this semester through the various assignments
that were given and through the different types of actions we went through for each paper.
Setting a rough draft date, as well as making us students workshop with one another on those due
dates, helped immensely. It forced us all to think about what we still needed for the paper and it
allowed us to see what other people were doing if we were not sure of how to go about doing the
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individual paper. The most specific thing, however, that I have learned from this class is to try to
make yourself interested in everything you write. The reason as to why this is so important to me
is because when you become interested in something, it becomes important to you and you want
to make it as successful as possible. Through each paper, I learned more and more about making
it seem more interesting to me and I cared more and more about how well I was able to
accomplish them. I progressively worked harder to make the papers the best I possibly could.
Overall, this course has taught me how to be a better writer, regardless of the circumstance, and
that the only way to improve is to keep trying.
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