The success of writing groups depends on effective feedback discussions. Structuring these feedback discussions is far more challenging than I first imagined. I was therefore very happy to read David Schultz’s advice in his book Eloquent Science.
In the book, David describes the Funnel Model. The Funnel Model aims first and foremost to help us improve our writing. When we plan or edit our writing, it is important to look at the big picture first and then work our way down in detail to paragraphs, sentences, and then words/grammar. We basically funnel down from large- to small-scale writing issues.
We can also use this funnel for our writing group discussions. When we give feedback about a text, it is important to tackle the big questions first. Is the main message conveyed clearly? Does the flow of ideas make sense? Once we have discussed these questions, we can move onto the paragraphs. Do the paragraphs flow together nicely? Does each paragraph start with a strong topic sentence and end with a good stress sentence? Then, we continue to funnel down to the sentence structure. And so on to specific sentences, where we try to improve them with different words, active verbs, or eliminating clutter.
David was kind enough to talk to me whilst we were at the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna. He described the Funnel Model with a nice analogy and told me how we can apply the model to both our writing and our writing group discussions. You can watch the interview below.