Reflecting on Note Taking

In reflecting on how I take my notes I have come to the conclusion that I do not take many on either the book or film that has been presented to me. For me, note-taking is a very slow and thorough process and therefore distracting, especially when first given a text or film. I find it is most beneficial to have an initial go-through of either the text or the film without taking notes. This allows me to absorb as much as possible about the plot. Once I have been able to understand the basics of the story line I am then able to look deeper and catch the elements that are worth noting for later use. Due to the amount of concentration I need to be taking notes on text and film I prefer to only make notes if it is with purpose, and when doing so I tend to keep them all on the same paper. I find the ways I note-take for both film and text are very similar because, the system that I have for note-taking these mediums are what help me learn best.

To go into further detail I will start with reflecting specifically on when I am note-taking for a text. After looking back at how I have annotated both the plays, Romeo & Juliet and King Henry V, I realized I refrained from making any notes on the actual pages of my book, however, when I did it was only in the most organized manner. I began highlighting in my copy of Romeo & Juliet after I initially read it, and I realized that couplets are used throughout the play; signifying to me that they are a very important element to the play-script. In highlighting this one element of the speech that Shakespeare used for Romeo & Juliet I realized to the full extent to how frequent these rhyming schemes actually were in the play. The rhyming language was used more frequently when Shakespeare wanted to portray the romance between Romeo and Juliet. As well, no one of a lower status, like the Nurse, ever had rhyming language; while people of wealth and knowledge were frequently given poetic devices in their language.

Romeo and Juliet Highlights

Friar Laurence and Romeo are of Higher Status

Taking notes and annotating the texts given take a very long time when using this process of reading twice, but I find it the most thorough and help me to learn the material well. Another example I found while reflecting my note-taking methods in this class is how I documented King Henry V. For each scene I would read it, then pause, and then re-read it. By doing this it gave the language of Shakespeare time to settle in my mind so that I could understand what happened in the plot. I would then write several sticky notes about what I had just read and store them in my book.

Sticky Note Summaries

Sticky Note Summaries

This helped me for when I went back to reference specific scenes because I then had all the basic information I needed about the plot summarized on my notes.  When compiling the information for the close-reading assignment this was useful because I was able to see how the prologue of Act IV of King Henry V was a well laid-out transition between the preceding and proceeding acts. Therefore, I was immediately able to jump into the specifics of the close reading such as the metaphors and other language devices that Shakespeare used to his advantage in his play. The way I annotated for the close reading was by making notes on a separate piece of paper. This allowed me to cluster my ideas that I had while reading the specific scene. It is a very successful technique for me because I am a visual person and need to be able to group my ideas so that I can then form them into complete arguments for use in my essays. Writing in my book would have scattered my thoughts on various pages which would have not be effective for my learning. I tend to understand best if my ideas are physically grouped so that I can remember how they connect for me to later use them in my assignments.

For film is simply do what I have done many times over to gather notes on my ideas, and that is writing it down on a piece of paper. Like text, I use a specific process that works for me to make useful notes on film. I tend to appreciate first watching the film completely, then making my notes. Sometimes, I do write down some important ideas that spring to me while watching a film through for the first time. However, I most often catch the details in the second time I watch a film. This is because, after seeing an entire movie I have an idea as to what scenes would be most beneficial for me to focus on. After watching a film I will have already have formed ideas in my head, therefore I can look for the scenes most applicable to the arguments about the film. Once I go through those scenes for the second time I like to pause the movie at various moments and write down everything I see. This is a successful practice for me because there are often small details in the background of film that I can only pick up if I take the time to pause. As well, I find the times I pause the film are good moments to write down all of the other thoughts stirring in my head.

Clustered Notes for Film Annotation

Clustered Notes

This is because I do not want to miss any of the visual aspect of the movie by taking my focus away to write about my thoughts. Some of things I like to look for when note-taking for film are: the symbolism directors like to use to portray the mood of the film as well as the cuts and rearrangements of Shakespeare’s scripts. For example, I noticed in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, water is frequently seen and both Romeo and Juliet are seen submersed in water several times.

Romeo an Juliet Water Motif

Water Motif

Water is powerful by its ability to both cleanse and claim. This perfectly symbolize Shakespeare’s story of Romeo & Juliet because the youthful couple wish to cleanse out issues between their opposing families, but in the process of doing so both of their lives were claimed. In all of the writing I do for film I follow the same process I did for annotating for my close reading of King Henry V, that being keeping everything on one piece of paper for me to visualize. This again, helps me to see how any of the motifs and symbolism in the film connect with each other and the overall story.

In conclusion, there are minor differences in my note-taking processes of both film and text based on the fact that they are different mediums and cannot be used in the same way. However, there is the similarity where I must take my time and go over either of them more than once for me to adequately delve into their intricacies. As well, I must write out all of my ideas in organized clusters to allow me to form arguments. I must take my time in writing notes on text and film because I need to first get familiar with the story before I can begin to write notes. By following this process I have been able to understand much about Shakespeare’s stories as well as the poetic language that is used in them. As well, I have been able to see the specific choices directors make when recreating the works of Shakespeare. I will continue to follow my practice of writing on a separate piece of paper because it is the most successful way for me to organize my thoughts into cluster I can visualize, along with it being a very adaptable way to annotate various mediums.


Film watched at on June 6th, 2016

Text referenced from “King Henry V” by William Shakespeare. Ed. T.W. Craik, The Arden Shakespeare, 1995

Text referenced from “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. Ed. Daniel Fischlin, Oxford University Press, 2013.

Images sourced from Google Images, s.v. “Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet Water”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *