The Writing Process Brenham Writing Room Created by D. Herring
Stages of the Writing Process
There are several stages to the Writing Process. Each stage is essential.
Choose/narrow your topic
Explore your topic
Make a plan
Choose/Narrow Your Topic
Your topic should pass the 3-question test:
Does it interest me?
Do I have something to say about it?
Is it specific?
Determine Your Audience
Your Audience is composed of those who will read your writing.
Who are my readers?
What do my readers know about my topic?
What do my readers need to know about my topic?
How do my readers feel about my topic?
Audience continued. . .
What do my readers expect?
Standard Written English
Correct grammar and spelling
Logical presentation of ideas
Followed directions of the assignment!!!
What are my length requirements?
What is my time limit?
What does the assignment consist of?
Is research required?
What format should be used?
Determine Your Purpose
Purpose is the reason you are writing.
Whenever you write, you always have a purpose . Most writing fits into one of 3 categories:
More than one of these may be used, but one will be primary .
Tone is the mood or attitude you adopt as you write.
Serious or frivolous/humorous?
Intimate or detached?
Point-of-view is the perspective from which you write an essay.
There are 3 points-of-view:
First person—”I, we”
Third person—”he, she, they”
One of the most common errors in writing occurs when the writer shifts point-of-view unnecessarily!
Tense is the voice you use to designate the time of the action or state of being.
Explore Your Topic
Make a Plan
Before you begin drafting your essay, you should make a plan (a roadmap).
Review, evaluate, and organize ideas written in your pre-writing; then make a plan for your essay’s
The thesis statement expresses the MAIN IDEA of your essay, the central point that your essay develops/supports.
Thesis continued. . .
Your thesis SHOULD:
Accurately predict your essay’s direction, emphasis, and scope
Make no promises that the essay will not fulfill
Be direct and straightforward
NOT be an announcement, statement of opinion, or statement of fact.
Be sure to evaluate the information in your prewriting carefully in order to choose the best support for your topic.
Primary Support—major ideas or examples that back up your main points
Secondary Support— details which further explain your primary support
Support continued. . .
Basics of good support
Relates to main point
Considers readers, i.e. provides enough information
Is detailed and specific
The Order is the sequence in which you present your ideas.
There are 3 types of order:
Time (chronological) order
Emphatic order (order of importance: least-to-most, most-to-least)
Consider how your essay will be organized; then create an Outline.
Sample Outline of standard
Body Paragraph 1
Body Paragraph 2
Body Paragraph 3
During the Writing Stage, you should
Create your essay’s Title
Compose a draft
A Draft is the first whole version of all your ideas put together; it’s a “dress rehearsal.”
You should plan to revise your Draft several times throughout the writing process.
Creating Your Title
Your essay’s title should :
Be a reasonable length
Reflect your topic
Be lively and attention-getting
Your title should NOT :
Be generic/repeat the assignment
Be in ALL CAPS
Be in boldface , “quotation marks,” underlined , or italicized
Be followed by a period
Capitalization Rules for Titles:
Always capitalize the first letter of the first word and the last word.
Capitalize the first letter of each “important” word in between the first and last words.
Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the)
Do not capitalize coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, etc.)
Do not capitalize prepositions (on, at, in, off, etc.)
Effective vs. Ineffective Titles
Topic: Cheating in College
Cheaters Never Win
Cheating in Higher Education
Why Do Students Cheat?
Don’t Do It!
Students Cheat for Many Different Reasons.
Writing a Draft
Basics of a good draft:
Has a fully developed introduction and conclusion
Has fully developed body paragraphs, each containing a topic sentence, at least two examples, and detailed support
Follows standard structure and uses complete sentences
Write Your Introduction
Your introductory paragraph should do the following:
Be a minimum of 4-6 sentences
Tell the audience what to expect from your discussion (thesis)
Move from general to specific, with the thesis as the last sentence in the intro
Get the reader’s attention
Set the tone for the rest of the essay
Strategies for developing an Introduction include
Providing background information
Telling a personal anecdote
Beginning with a quotation
Using an opposite
Asking a question
Write Your Body Paragraphs
Each body paragraph should develop one of the specific points mentioned in the thesis.
Each BP should contain:
Topic Sentence—main idea of BP
Body Paragraphs: Topic Sentence
A Topic Sentence expresses the main idea of the body paragraph.
Begin each body paragraph with a Topic Sentence that
Narrows the focus of the paragraph
Accurately predicts the direction of the paragraph
Refers back to the Thesis statement
Body Paragraphs continued
Body paragraphs must have
Unity —everything refers back to main point
Support —examples and details
Coherence —all points connect to form a whole; one point leads to another
Body Paragraphs: Unity
Unity is achieved when everything refers back to the main point
ALL SENTENCES SHOULD RELATE BACK TO TOPIC SENTENCE & THESIS.
Do not include any ideas that are irrelevant or off-topic.
Body Paragraphs: Support
Support is achieved through adequate examples and details.
Each body paragraph should include at least two examples to support the main idea of the paragraph.
Each example should include at least one specific detail that further illustrates the point.
Body Paragraphs: Coherence
Coherence is achieved when all points connect to form a whole; one point leads to another.
Coherence is mainly achieved through the use of transitions.
Transitions —words & phrases which connect your sentences so that your writing flows smoothly.
Write Your Conclusion
The concluding paragraph should
Contain a minimum of 4 sentences
Refer back to the main point, but not simply repeat the thesis
Make an observation on what is written
NOT introduce any new ideas
Create a sense of closure
Revising is finding & correcting problems with content ; changing the ideas in your writing to make them clearer, stronger, and more convincing.
Revising looks at the “Big Picture”—the Idea level.
Does everything refer back to main point?
Does each topic sentence refer to the thesis?
Does each sentence in each BP refer back to the topic sentence?
Detail and support
Does each BP contain at least two examples?
Is each example followed by at least one supporting detail?
Are all points connect to form a whole?
Are transitions used to move from one idea to the next?
Take a break from your draft before attempting to revise.
Read your draft out loud and listen to your words.
Imagine yourself as your reader.
Look for consistent problem areas.
Get feedback from peers.
Get help from a tutor!
Avoid Clichés, Jargon, Euphemisms, and Inflated Language
Clichés: words or phrases that have been used so often they have lost their freshness and meaning. Relying on clichés is a sure way to make your writing predictable and boring.
burning (desire, issue, question)
facts and figures
children of all ages
engage in conversation
checkered (career, path)
heart of the matter
goes without saying
before I knew it without a doubt in a jiffy without a hitch stopped in my tracks little did I know goose bumps all over the time of my life needless to say well worth the wait even to this day frightened to death scared out of my wits waste of time rushed for time with only seconds to spare without a care in the world it couldn't happen to a nicer guy a matter of time lost track of time seemed to take forever lasted an eternity like greased lightning thought to myself made a big impression on thought he/she was hot stuff
in the nick of time couldn't catch my breath for the life of me without moving a muscle without a doubt to tell the truth couldn't keep my eyes open at the drop of a hat cut to the chase did not have a pleasant bone in his/her body but to no avail it was bad enough like the pot calling the kettle black got the best of me put two and two together to this day bubble was burst knows full well honesty is the best policy times heals all wounds next thing I knew dumb as a rock bored out of my mind quiet as a mouse stopped in my tracks
Jargon: shoptalk words that have no general clear meaning, used by writers to suggest they are in the know (or to cover what they don't know).
Examples of Jargon
NEWSPAPER JARGON Some examples of newspaper jargon words are "beat", "breakline", "budget","byline", "chaser", "circulation", "cut", "dateline", "ears", "flag", "lead", "stringer", "strip", "teaser", and "zone".
FOOTBALL JARGON Examples of football jargon are "audible", "blitz", "clipping", "down", "end zone", "goal line", "hand-off", "kickoff", "loose ball", "man-in-motion", "offside", "picked off", "recovery", "scrambling", "territory", and "touchdown".
BASEBALL JARGON Examples of common baseball jargon words include: "cheap run", "choke up", "cleanup hitter", "clutch hitter", "curve ball", "cut-off man", "dig it out", "double play", "extra bases", "fastball", "first ball hitter", "go-ahead run", "golfing", "good eye", "grand slam", "Hall of Fame", "hit by pitch", "home run", "insurance run", "loud out","make the pitcher work".
BUSINESS JARGON Examples of business jargon words include: "10,000 foot view", "actionable", "axe", "back burner", "bait and switch", "ballpark", "bang for the buck", ""behind the eight ball", "best practice", "bean counter", "bearish", "brain dump", "bullish", "buzz", "down and dirty", "downsize", "due diligence", "get your ducks in a row", " "micromanage", "mom and pop organization", "not invented here", "org chart", "out of pocket", "out of the loop", "ping", "pushback", "put to bed", "rubber check".
UNDERSTANDING COMPUTER JARGON There is a lot to learn in understanding computer jargon. Here's more examples of jargon: "browser", "bus", "cache", "chip", "cookie", "CPU", "crash", "database", "dot pitch", "download", "driver", "file", "firewall", "folder", fragmentation", "freeware", "gopher", "hardware", "interface", "keyboard shortcuts", "mouse", "network", "operating system", "plug and play", "resolution", "software", "spam", "upload", "URL", and "virus".
Euphemism: language used to elude or overstate the raw reality of an idea. Often euphemisms are polite versions of the truth: he passed on rather than he died. Words that soften or camouflage, euphemisms rob your writing of vividness and honesty.
The reason to avoid euphemisms is that it makes the writer sound either mealy-mouthed or pretentious at best and dishonest at worst. Euphemisms run the gamut from relatively harmless language like 'landfill' for 'dump' to murderous camouflage such as 'ethnic cleansing' for 'genocide.'
Examples of Euphemisms
Bought the farm
Bun in the oven
It fell off the back of a truck
Lady of the night
Six feet under
Editing is finding and correcting problems with grammar, style, word choice & usage, and punctuation.
Editing focuses on the “Little Picture”—Word level.
Keep an Error Log to help you identify your problem areas and improve your writing .
When editing, review your paper for one type of error at a time; don’t try to read through looking for everything at once.
Work with a clean printed copy, double-spaced to allow room to mark corrections.
Read your essay backwards.
Be cautious of spell-check and grammar-check.
Read your essay out loud.
Get feedback from peers.
Work with a tutor!
You should never move to peer review without first completing a self-review (revising & editing); you want your peer to look for mistakes that you were unable to catch yourself!
After you have reviewed your own work, make the necessary corrections and print a clean, revised copy before moving on to peer review.
It is important to make the peer review process useful.