The film Pieces of a Puzzle is an hour-long documentary produced as part of WNET/Thirteen’s three-part series Writers Writing. The program was designed in order to help students become better writers and to facilitate the discovery of material and techniques appropriate to academic writing.
Pieces of a Puzzle follows Washington Post reporter, Courtland Malloy, and University of Maryland student, Lisa Couturier, as both struggle to cover a story of mass evictions in Washington, DC. Malloy’s first attempts to write his story are highly emotional and expose his preconceptions about the eviction proceedings. Couturier, on the other hand, writes a very personal story about the members of the eviction crew, but soon learns her technique is also throwing her off “on a tangent”. The answer for both writers is revision: to struggle with meaning and re-examine the material and the words on the page until meaning becomes clear.
Pieces of a Puzzle succeeded in persuading my students to the reality of the writing process – that it is fairly lengthy and tiresome, involving first, second and even third drafts rising out of rethinking and revising; that is it is tied up with finding information, researching, and pinning down the details; that it is organizing masses of information and cutting out the irrelevant; and that it is an exciting and valuable activity tied up with intellectual discovery and growth.
Shirley Lim, Westchester Community College
These films have become the basis for some of my most insightful and fruitful discussions with students about writing in fifteen years of teaching. Each film has individual merits… These films are extraordinary resources for writing teachers and students.
Warren Self, Radford University
One of the best features of the films is their flexibility. Unlike most instructional films, they don’t dictate a specific methodology… the series has already had a measurable impact on the way I teach and the way my students write.
William Costanzo, Westchester Community College