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Writing is a task that no two people do the same way. However, there are some logical steps that every writer seems to follow in the creation of a paper. The process described here outlines those …

Writing is a task that no two people do the same way. However, there are some logical steps that every writer seems to follow in the creation of a paper. The process described here outlines those basic steps. Keep in mind that these steps are not exclusive of each other, and at times they can be rather liquid. Also, writers will notice that most of these steps are reciprocal; that is, work done in one area may necessitate returning to a step that you have already "completed."

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  • 1. The Writing Process
    Writing is a task that no two people do the same way. However, there are some logical steps that every writer seems to follow in the creation of a paper. The process described here outlines those basic steps. Keep in mind that these steps are not exclusive of each other, and at times they can be rather liquid. Also, writers will notice that most of these steps are reciprocal; that is, work done in one area may necessitate returning to a step that you have already " completed."
    Organization
    When writers talk about organization, they are talking about arranging thoughts systematically in an orderly, functional way in order to create a harmonious or united action. Your paper should be arranged so that your purpose is clear, your thesis logically stated and developed, and your final conclusion plainly drawn from the preceding material. Of course, different kinds of papers call for different organizations. A paper arguing a political position will be organizationally different from a paper explaining the migratory patterns of African swallows. Two kinds of papers that you will encounter often are the informative paper and the argumentative paper.
    Informative paper
    The informative paper basically states " This is way things are. This is how they work. This is how to use them." This kind of paper will often be organized in one of the following ways:Codified order: Present information and ideas in a sequential or other logical order A potato can be fried, baked, or boiled.Definition: Arrange the information around a definition.Good potatoes are the product of planning, preparation, and presentation.Classification: Arrange examples in varietiesTwo types of potatoes are sweet and red.Comparison: Demonstrate similarities between two or more people or things.Julienned and sliced potatoes are alike in . . . Contrast: Demonstrate differences between two or more people or thingsJulienned and sliced potatoes differ in . . .
    Argumentative/Persuasive paper
    The argumentative paper states a premise and then gives support for that premise. This kind of paper will often be organized in one of the following ways: Induction: Infer a general principle from a group of examplesPotatoes with the skin on are more flavorful than skinned potatoes.Deduction: Infer a group of effects given a general principle (i.e. Cause/Effect).Leaving the skin on the potatoes produces more flavorful results.Sign: Establish that one thing indicates the presence or action of anotherOver-seasoned potatoes is a sign of bad potatoes or an incompetent cook.Analogy: Compare one topic to another seemingly unrelated topic to illuminate a relationship
    In the same way that a good blueprint is the foundation of success in building a bridge, thorough planning is the foundation of a successful potato torte.
    THE THESIS IS YOUR FRIEND!
    One of the most common problems of organization is including extraneous material. As you are composing the body of your paper--perhaps following the structures illustrated above--make sure that every paragraph you write puts forward the idea of thesis. If a paragraph does not clearly support or further the argument of the thesis, it does not belong in the paper. Following this rule will prevent you from discussing unrelated material. Remember, always keep the thesis in mind:Tape it to the wall in front of your deskWrite it on top of every page that you writeWrite it on your arm
    Once you have organized your thoughts, you should begin to think about crafting paragraphs and introducing and concluding your paper.
    Crafting Paragraphs
    Just what exactly are we talking about here?
    A paragraph is a group of sentences that are related to each other because they all refer to a controlling idea; this idea is often expressed in a topic sentence, a sentence that functions in a paragraph much like a thesis statement functions in a paper. Paragraphs work together to develop the controlling idea established by the HYPERLINK " http://www.csuohio.edu/academic/writingcenter/thesis.html" thesis. Consider the following example:Thesis statement People in the past spent a great deal of effort protecting themselves from evil potatoes.Topic sentence for a typical paragraph Anti-evil-potato devices were understandably numerous since every bad thing that happened could be blamed on the power of an evil potato.Subject of paragraph Anti-evil-potato devicesRelation to controlling idea People's fear of evil potatoes forced them to devise equipment to keep evil potatoes away.
    O.K. So, why do I want one?
    The paragraph is a unit of organization and development. This structure is used to fully explore set of sub-topics that a thesis statement suggests. Each paragraph develops a specific idea that supports the thesis statement; it also connects that idea to the other ideas presented in the paper. Paragraphs can develop and unify a set of ideas in many different ways: writers must simply make sure that their reader understands how all the paragraphs in a paper work together to achieve the writer's purpose.
    Where am I supposed to put this thing when I get one?
    Hopefully, you will collect several of these items into a paper of some kind. How you store your paragraphs is very important. Each paragraph must be separated from the others by means of indentation. Remember that each paragraph must also relate its distinct idea about the thesis to the ideas developed in other paragraphs. (No paragraphs about Han Solo and Princess Leia in a paper about the soil conditions of Ireland during the famine.)
    Where can I get some?
    Unfortunately, you still have to produce these things yourself. What follows is largely based on information from The Allyn & Bacon Handbook; often, writers go through this " process" after they have completed a draft.Decide what the paragraph will deal with:Since each paragraph begins with a specific purpose (to explore a distinct sub-topic of the thesis), each topic sentence should be specific and clear. The HYPERLINK " http://www.csuohio.edu/academic/writingcenter/organize.html" organizational pattern of your paper (based mainly upon the type of paper you are writing) will help you decide what issues you should deal with and in what order to deal with them.Think about all the issues that this paragraph should deal with:Each sentence within a specific paragraph must support the idea posited by the topic sentence. As you reflect on a particular paragraph, ask yourself, " What are the issues involved in this topic? How does this relate to my overall controlling idea? Do my sentences adequately explore this topic sentence?" Think about the purpose and tone of your paragraph:Each paragraph must provide a thorough analysis of its topic. If a paragraph provides information that is not directly related to the thesis, revise or eliminate the extraneous information. Ask yourself whether each paragraph contributes to the focus and tone of the entire paper and follows the map laid out in your thesis. Be efficient with your sentence development in your paragraph:A paragraph is not a paper. Each paragraph represents a separate step towards a general conclusion about your topic. To that end, each paragraph should develop its idea with as many (or as few) sentences as necessary to make its point clear. Many of you have heard that a paragraph can be considered a " miniature essay" in which there is an introduction (topic sentence), some supportive materials (the sentences of the paragraph), and a conclusion (a concluding sentence). This structure works, but keep in mind that regardless of sentence length or number your main goal is efficiently and completely examining individual ideas. Revise your paragraph organization as you develop your paper:It may be that your thesis will change as you develop your paper; consequently, topic sentences for your paragraphs must change with it. Don't hesitate to discard vague or tangential ideas in favor of more direct ones. Also, make sure each paragraph moves your paper toward its goal, whether it be informative or persuasive. Finally, make sure each paragraph is part of a logical sequence of ideas that are linked by transitions.
    Believe it or not there are more than one type of paragraph. You may want to investigate some of the intricacies of the introduction and conclusion varieties.
    Windows of Perception: Word-processing and Your Writing
    Obviously you have some level of adroitness on the computer to have found your way here, but for those of you who may still be scratching your head as to some of the basics of using a computer the first part of this section includes some very basic information.For those of you who want to leap into the fray immediately, the path to the word-processing information is before you.
    Some Basics
    What's a GUI do?
    GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. Without getting into the war between Mac users and Windows lovers, let's just say that a GUI allows the user to interact with the computer by way of symbolic pictures and icons rather than weird word commands an keystrokes (Most applications still allow you to continue using all of the secret keys you learned as a child).
    Why is there a rodent on my desk and why should I have to touch him?
    The Mouse is an integral part of many word-processors. When you place the pointer on an object on the screen and click the buttons, it is like pressing an " on" button on that item.
    Click
    Pressing and releasing a mouse-button once is called " clicking."
    Double-click
    Clicking twice in rapid succession is called " double-clicking."
    Click and drag
    The " click-and-drag" technique involves holding down the button while you move the cursor with the mouse. Used in highlighting, or selecting, text.
    With these basic techniques you should be able to navigate any software that requires a mouse. If you are using a word-processor that does not use a mouse, the functions performed by the mouse are executed with keyboard commands that vary from processor to processor.This is the way to learn some basics about word-processors.This is the way to learn about writing and your word-processor.
    Revision
    Revision tends to be divided into two categories, changes that alter the meaning of a text and changes that leave meaning intact. Think of how many changes you can make to a piece of writing.
    Since there are so many things a writer can do to a text and, often, so little time, it makes sense to make those changes that will make the meaning of your writing more clear to a reader. There are, of course, lots of ways to figure out how to revise a particular piece of writing; every writer is different. What follows is a method that works, either on a whole paper or on a paragraph.
    Finish a draft or at least part of a draft before you consider revising--otherwise you may never get anything finished.
    Reread your draft and decide what issues you need to focus on. Always start with the most serious meaning-blocking issues and work down; always make notes on the draft that you read, and consider getting another reader's opinion--maybe even a Writing Center tutor's opinion.Levels to consider:
    subject & purpose
    shape
    paragraphs
    sentences
    format
    ocus on a single issue.
    Maintaining your focus, talk or write through potential solutions to places where communication breaks down; often problems and solutions are easier to find with the help of an objective reader (e.g., another writer, a Writing Center tutor, or your instructor).
    Sketch in solutions and write them up.
    Repeat steps 1 through 5 as often as necessary.
    Revision Checklist
    Words like thesis, organization, paragraph, coherence, and comma splice, don't exist just to make your life miserable. All of these terms define the effects of a piece of writing. That is, a paper with a well-defined thesis lets a reader know where it's going; a well-organized paper is one that enables a reader to get from beginning to end without getting lost. Your handbook or a Writing Center tutor can help you describe the effects of your writing (probably using terms like those listed above), but only you can decide to make your writing more meaningful or effective. A revision checklist like the following one can help you write a better paper, but only if you understand what makes effective writing and are willing to make changes.
    Check your draft for the following devices:Subject
    thesis
    unified information
    tone
    Shape
    organizational pattern
    transitional words
    introduction & conclusion
    coherent information
    Paragraphs
    topic sentences
    examples
    warrants
    transitional words
    Sentences
    complete sentences
    sentence variety
    transitional words
    Format
    special punctuation
    page setup
    documentation
    Checking for these devices is one way of making sure that your paper sticks to and develops a single idea. Of course, a list cannot replace your commitment to communicating with an audience. If you are not trying to affect your reader with an idea or two, perfect structure and grammar will only go so far.
    Revision Exercise
    Look at a piece of writing that you are revising. Work through each of the steps, starting at the top and moving down the list. Make sure that you determine carefully where communication breaks down and how you can go about reestablishing it. Sketch in a solution before setting off on a re-write.
    Copyediting for Fun and Profit
    Copyediting or proofreading is part of a larger process called revision, a process that is worth thinking about. Copyediting deals with surface changes; that is with changes that don't alter the meaning of a text. Since there are so many things a writer can do to a text and, often, so little time, it makes sense to make those changes that will make the meaning of your writing more clear to a reader before focusing on surface changes. Still, a paper must be proofread before it is handed in to an academic audience. In college, great ideas only get a writer so far. What follows is a process that many writers use to make certain that their writing is ready for a critical audience.
    Finish a draft or at least part of a draft before you consider revising at any level--otherwise you may never get anything finished.
    Of course, you will always start with the most serious meaning-blocking issues and work down:Revision Issues
    subject & purpose
    shape
    paragraphs
    sentences
    format
    Eventually, you will work your way down to the level of sentences and format, the level at which you will " copyedit." When you focus on sentences and format, there are several things you will need to consider:Copyediting Issues
    style
    grammar
    punctuation
    word choice
    Make a list of the issues that you usually struggle with and decide what issue(s) you will focus on first (if you have no idea what to start with, talk to another writer, a Writing Center tutor, or your instructor).
    Maintaining your focus, go through your paper a sentence at a time and locate and solve problems--use a handbook to find solutions; don't just make them up.
    Repeat step 4 as often as necessary.