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EG10 -- Paper Writing Strategies

EG10 -- Paper Writing Strategies

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  • 1. Prewriting – What’s the Point?
    • Successful students devote a lot of attention to prewriting. If you start off your papers by staring at a blank computer screen, you’re probably wasting a lot of your time. When you prewrite, you “stock up” on ideas, topics, approaches, and phrases that you will work on in your paper. The more you prewrite, the less likely you’ll be stuck in one of those awful moments where you’re zoning out or distracted because you don’t know where to “go” next with your paper! In fact, prewriting can save you from wasting countless “stare in to space” hours when writing your papers!
  • 2. Prewriting Can Also Prevent Plagiarism!
    • When students get “stuck” on their papers, they frequently hop on the Internet to look for ideas. While this alone is innocent enough, unfortunately this often leads to students stealing ideas and even outright copying material off from the Internet! This is totally unacceptable in any college course, and could be prevented if a student prewrites in order to avoid getting stuck!
    • Please Note: You should not do any outside research for any papers in EG010. As a result, pick topics that you know that you can write about. Do NOT copy information off the Internet and put it in your papers!
  • 3. Technique #1: Freewriting
    • If you have one, put your topic at the top of your page. Give yourself five, ten, or fifteen minutes and write anything that comes to mind without stopping. Don’t think, don’t stop writing until your time is up, and write all over the paper. Don’t bother with proper spelling or grammar right now!
    • The idea behind freewriting is that it divorces you from that voice inside your head that tells you “that’s not a good idea” or “that’s not going to work.”
  • 4. Technique #1: Freewriting
    • Totally random, but there’s some ideas there! Underline or circle the ideas that you think you can use, but never throw out your freewriting sheet! An idea that you think is not helpful now could end up being helpful later!
    • You don’t need a topic to freewrite (sometimes freewriting can help you find a topic!), but having one helps you focus a bit more.
  • 5. Technique #2: Clustering
    • Write an initial topic in the middle of your paper and put a circle around it. “Branch” out from that topic by drawing lines to “connect” ideas from that initial idea. Then keep “branching” out from those initial ideas!
  • 6. Technique #2: Clustering
    • Pick whichever cluster you feel is your stronger material… or use them all!
    • Keep clustering until you feel you have enough “branches” to start.
  • 7. Technique #3: Reporter’s Questions
    • A good reporter will always look for answers to the following six questions:
    • Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
    •  
    • Pretend you’re Clark Kent and answer the same questions about your topic!
    There’s lots of “starter” ideas to work with here, and ideas to flesh out if you need more.
  • 8. Technique #3: Additional Questions
    • Our textbook provides additional questions that can help:
    • What do I know about (my topic)?
    • What would I like to know about (my topic)?
    • Where can I get more information about (my topic)?
    •  
    • What would I like to focus on in my paper?
    •  
    • What is my main point?
    •  
    • Who is my audience?
    • You can certainly add your own!
  • 9. Turn Your Prewriting Into A Thesis
    • A thesis is you main point of your paper, and usually appears as a sentence in your paper’s introduction (first paragraph). Your thesis should involve the following:
    • 1) Answer “what are you writing about?”
    • 2) Answer “what do you want to say about it in your paper?”
    • 3) Must be an argument… that is, it should NOT be a fact, it should be an opinion!
    • 4) Give basic evidence to support to strengthen your position, which you will elaborate on in your paper
    • 5) Is specific !
    • A good thesis will provide you with a great direction to “steer” your paper toward!
  • 10. Good Thesis vs. Bad Thesis
    • Bad Thesis: “Baseball is a sport.”
    • Why: Isn’t this a fact? Could you argue against this? And is your paper going to be about why baseball is a sport – seems like a short paper!
    • Good Thesis: “Baseball is a sport that is easy to learn and fun to play.”
    • Why: This is an arguable opinion – some people could say it’s hard to learn and not fun to play. Furthermore, it gives us the idea that this paper is about learning how to play the game, and you could write many paragraphs on that.
    • Bad Thesis: “Soccer is a boring sport.”
    • Why: Though this is an opinion, the writer gives nothing to support the position.
    • Good Thesis: “Soccer is a boring sport because it is low scoring, the players are overdramatic, and the games are too long.”
    • Why: This is clearly an opinion, and the writer gives three main points to base his/her paragraphs on.
  • 11.
    • Bad Thesis: “Suffolk is a good school.”
    • Why: “Good” is way too general of a word – why is it good?
    • Good Thesis: “Suffolk is successful school because it has focused degree programs, supportive faculty, and the staff will help you find a career.”
    • Why: Again, we have an arguable opinion and reasons that we can base paragraphs on.
    • Bad Thesis: “Suffolk is a good school because I love it.”
    • Why: This is getting better, but the thesis isn’t specific – why do you love it?
    • Good Thesis: “Suffolk is a great school because students enjoy all the programs it offers and the activities they can participate in.”
    • Why: Now that gives you some specific reasons you can elaborate on in your paragraphs!
    Good Thesis vs. Bad Thesis
  • 12.
    • What does that mean? Well, just because you establish an initial thesis when you start your paper doesn’t mean you can’t change it later if your discover your paper is going in a different direction or you decide to write about something else. However, be sure to CHANGE the wording of your initial thesis if it no longer reflects your paper’s main points and direction!
    A Thesis Should Always Be Elastic!
  • 13.
    • Once you have a thesis and an idea of your main topic, use your prewriting material to “steer” your paper as you write it! Remember, never throw out whatever you prewrite until you’re done with your paper. There’s always potential ideas right there!
    Utilizing Your Prewriting Material
  • 14. How Can I Write Better Papers? How Can I Write Papers Quicker?
    • These slides will help you develop an answer to both of those questions. Considering that you will have dozens of papers to write in college, finding a successful “method” to writing those papers will help you go through your college experience with less stress, less wasted time, and especially less concern about your own writing abilities.
  • 15. The Building Blocks of a Paper: Paragraphs
    • A paragraph is a group of sentences that all convey or develop one main idea. For example, in an essay about how to go bowling, you could have one paragraph that is all about the preparation once you arrive at the bowling alley – renting shoes, renting a ball, purchasing your games, entering your name in the scoreboard, etc.
    • There is no set “length” for a paragraph, but paragraphs of less than five sentences tend to be underdeveloped, while paragraphs of over twelve sentences tend to convey more than one main idea. But again, there’s no set “rule!”
  • 16. Sample Paragraph
    • A paragraph should look something like this:
    • When you arrive at the bowling alley, you must take care of some preliminary setup tasks before you can start bowling. First, you will need to rent shoes and a ball. Be sure to request shoes that will fit you, and you should choose a ball that is not too heavy for you to hold, but not too light. A typical beginner should not use a ball any heavier than twelve pounds. After you have paid the fee for your rentals and for the games you will play, you will go to your bowling area (called a “lane”) and enter your name and the names of those you are playing with into the computer scorer. This computer will keep track of who bowls next in your order, and it will also automatically record the scores for you so you will not have to do it yourselves. Once you have completed these tasks, you are ready to start bowling.
    • Now, let’s break down this paragraph into its essential components!
  • 17. Indent!
    • First, be sure your first line is indented. This tells your reader that this is the start of a new paragraph!
    • When you arrive at the bowling alley, you must take care of some preliminary setup tasks before you can start bowling. First, you will need to rent shoes and a ball. Be sure to request shoes that will fit you, and you should choose a ball that is not too heavy for you to hold, but not too light. A typical beginner should not use a ball any heavier than twelve pounds. After you have paid the fee for your rentals and for the games you will play, you will go to your bowling area (called a “lane”) and enter your name and the names of those you are playing with into the computer scorer. This computer will keep track of who bowls next in your order, and it will also automatically record the scores for you so you will not have to do it yourselves. Once you have completed these tasks, you are ready to start bowling.
  • 18. Topic Sentence
    • Your paragraph should contain a topic sentence . This sentence clearly conveys for your reader exactly what your paragraph’s main idea is. A topic sentence is like a thesis for its particular paragraph.
    • When you arrive at the bowling alley, you must take care of some preliminary setup tasks before you can start bowling . First, you will need to rent shoes and a ball. Be sure to request shoes that will fit you, and you should choose a ball that is not too heavy for you to hold, but not too light. A typical beginner should not use a ball any heavier than twelve pounds. After you have paid the fee for your rentals and for the games you will play, you will go to your bowling area (called a “lane”) and enter your name and the names of those you are playing with into the computer scorer. This computer will keep track of who bowls next in your order, and it will also automatically record the scores for you so you will not have to do it yourselves. Once you have completed these tasks, you are ready to start bowling.
    • The topic sentence of this paragraph is underlined. Notice how the topic sentence clearly tells the reader what the paragraph is about?
  • 19. Where Should the Topic Sentence Go?
    • Typically, the best place for a topic sentence is the first sentence of the paragraph. That way it gives the reader a clear idea of EXACTLY what your paragraph is about. As you develop your writing skills you may experiment with moving your topic sentence into different spots in a paragraph, but even advanced writers tend to use the first sentence of a paragraph as the topic sentence often!
    • Remember to keep your topic sentence general – save your specific information for the rest of the paragraph!
  • 20. The Body
    • The rest of your paragraph should elaborate on your topic sentence, and stick to your topic!
    • When you arrive at the bowling alley, you must take care of some preliminary setup tasks before you can start bowling. First, you will need to rent shoes and a ball. Be sure to request shoes that will fit you, and you should choose a ball that is not too heavy for you to hold, but not too light. A typical beginner should not use a ball any heavier than twelve pounds. After you have paid the fee for your rentals and for the games you will play, you will go to your bowling area (called a “lane”) and enter your name and the names of those you are playing with into the computer scorer. This computer will keep track of who bowls next in your order, and it will also automatically record the scores for you so you will not have to do it yourselves. Once you have completed these tasks, you are ready to start bowling.
    • The “body” of the paragraph is underlined. As you can see, it expands upon the topic sentence and supports it with specific information.
  • 21. Planning Your Paragraphs
    • A typical essay will consist of several paragraphs. Each paragraph, as we’ve stated, should convey ONE main idea. So in an essay on “How to Go Bowling,” how many paragraphs should you use?
    • Well, that’s really up to you and the length of the assignment as required by the instructor. But what are some topics we could base paragraphs around? Let’s try some freewriting:
    • How to prepare your game How to locate a bowling alley
    • Techniques to try Scoring History of bowling
    • Joining a league Food sold at the alley
  • 22. Putting Those Ideas in Order
    • How to prepare your game How to locate a bowling alley
    • Techniques to try Scoring
    • I’ve eliminated ideas that I don’t think follow our main topic (which is “how to go bowling”). What I have left are four main topics, so let’s put them in a logical order:
    • How to locate a bowling alley.
    • How to prepare your game
    • Scoring
    • Techniques to try
    • Now we’ve got topics for four paragraphs of an essay. Awesome! This is called an outline , and it helps you have a clear direction for your paper.
  • 23.
    • To expand your outline, start putting ideas underneath your main topic to create a “mini” outline for each paragraph:
    • How to locate a bowling alley.
      • Check phone book
      • Look for reviews on the Internet
      • Ask friends who bowl
      • Call alley and find out if there are special deal nights
    • Like with prewriting, outlining will you give ideas on where to go next with your sentences. Be sure to put these ideas in whatever you think is the most logical order.
    Expand Your Outline
  • 24. Constructing Strong Topic Sentences
    • Writing a topic sentence will help you narrow down your paragraph’s focus – an unfocused paragraph will typically veer off into unnecessary directions and will end up confusing your reader.
    • Weak topic sentence: Now go to the bowling alley.
    • Weak topic sentence: Preparing to bowl requires a lot of stuff.
    • (These topic sentences are too brief and don’t give a strong idea of what exactly the paragraphs will be about!)
    • Weak topic sentence: When you arrive at the bowling alley, rent your shoes, your ball, and purchase your games.
    • (You’ve given away almost all your information already, and none of this is specifically explained!)
  • 25. Don’t Be Too Direct!
    • Don’t start your topic sentences off like “This paragraph will be about…” or “I will discuss how to… in this paragraph” or “Now I will write about…” This comes off as too conversational and can be very awkward.
  • 26. Turning Your Outline into a Paragraph
    • Now that you’ve constructed a topic sentence for your paragraph, go back to your outline and construct sentences to go through your ideas in logical order. Remember what makes a complete sentence!
    • Follow through with your subsequent paragraphs, and you will soon have an essay forming before your eyes!
  • 27. The Parts of an Essay
    • An essay will be composed of numerous paragraphs, but there are three main parts of an essay. These are, in order:
    • The Introduction : This paragraph opens your essay. Its purpose is to present your thesis statement, preview the main points that your paper will cover, and you should try to grab your reader’s attention.
    • The Body : Your body will consist of one or more paragraphs (probably more than one!) Their purpose is to present one focused idea that relates to your main topic. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence and maintain the focus throughout the paragraph.
    • The Conclusion : Your conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay and will bring your essay to, well, a conclusion. It’s your last chance to impart information to your reader.
  • 28. Additional Thesis Tips
    • A vague thesis can be made more specific by dividing the topic further to explain why :
    • Weak Thesis: Gino’s sells the best Italian Ices.
    • Better Thesis: Gino’s sells the best Italian Ices because of their natural flavors, variety of styles, and large portions.
    • Also, do NOT begin your thesis with an awkward and obvious statement like “In my paper, I will write about…” or “My main point for this paper is…” or “The topics this paper will cover are…” These obviously take little effort and don’t do a very good job of grabbing your reader.
    • Remember back to our Good Thesis/Bad Thesis exercise!
  • 29. Review: Writing The Body Paragraphs
    • When planning and writing your paragraphs, remember:
    • Prewrite to come up with your strongest possible ideas for each paragraph.
    • Group these ideas into individual paragraphs.
    • Put your paragraphs in a logical order in a detailed outline .
    • Develop a clear topic for each paragraph, represented by a topic sentence used as the first sentence of the paragraph.
    • Order the information in your paragraph in a logical order
    • We went over all these in previous sessions, so it should all be familiar!
  • 30. Linking Paragraphs
    • To make your paragraphs “flow” together (just like your sentences within a paragraph flow together), try some of these tips:
    • Repeat key words/terms from your thesis statement. This will make your paragraphs relate to your introduction.
    • Refer to words or ideas from the preceding paragraph. This will allow you to build upon your prior work to give your paper a forward progression.
  • 31. The Introduction
    • As discussed last week, the introduction serves important roles in your essay. It not only contains your thesis statement – which is, remember, the sentence that conveys your main points of your essay – but it also grabs your readers’ attention so they will stick with and remain interested in your essay.
    • Although there’s no secret to composing the “perfect” introduction (if there were such a thing!) There are numerous “dos” and “don’ts” that we can cover.
  • 32. Introduction Strategies (p.201-205)
    • There are a few different methods to composing an introduction:
    • Begin with your thesis. This is very direct, and quickly informs your reader of what you will be writing about. Your following sentences in the introduction should then preview your paper’s main points.
    • The “Funnel Method.” Begin with a general statement about your paper’s direction, then “narrow” to your thesis statement. Each sentence should inch closer and closer to your thesis statement.
    • The “Anecdote Method.” Begin with a very short story that relates to your topic – that will grab your readers’ attention – and use that to “bridge” to your thesis.
    • Begin with a fact or idea. Use an eye-opening statistic to grab your reader’s attention right away.
    • See more choices in our textbook!
  • 33. Introduction “Don’ts”
    • Don’t “announce” your paper with a clunky “In this paper I will show…” or “This paper is about…” – this is very awkward, unimaginative, and doesn’t fit comfortably with your paper’s flow.
    • Don’t introduce information in your introduction that you don’t proceed to write about in your essay. ALWAYS review your introduction before you are finished with your paper – if you don’t expand upon it in your paper, you shouldn’t write about it in your introduction!
  • 34. The Conclusion
    • Writing a strong conclusion paragraph tends to be one of the more difficult tasks for developmental students. The purpose of the conclusion is to wrap up your essay and leave your reader with some final information to consider. Conclusions are essential – imagine seeing a movie with no ending! Or, have you ever watched a television series, only for it to be canceled with a series finale? Both are very unsatisfying!
  • 35. Conclusion Strategies
    • There a few different methods to composing your conclusion:
    • End with a “Call to Arms.” This asks your readers to take what they have learned and apply it to their future actions to change whatever situation you are writing about. This is common in essays about political or social issues.
    • End with an invitation. Ask your readers to become involved with whatever cause or action that you have written about.
    • “ Now that you’ve read about how to go bowling, why don’t you try it yourself?”
    • End with a final point. Use your conclusion’s last sentence to make a final statement on the work you’ve created.
    • End with a question. If you end with a question, you leave it to your readers to think about what he or she will do after they read your essay.
  • 36.
    • In your conclusion, be sure to:
    • Restate your thesis. Remind your reader what your essay was about!
    • Tie your paper together by repeating and reviewing your key points.
    • End with a strong, interesting sentence that will stick with your reader (more about this next week!)
    • Be sure to follow these “don’t” tips too:
    • Do NOT start your conclusion with a clunky “In conclusion,” “In summary,” “In the end,” etc.
    • Do NOT add new information. Adding new information into your conclusion feels like an afterthought!
    Conclusions Dos & Don’ts
  • 37.
    • All well-written papers have titles! A title, which comes before your introduction, is your very first chance to grab your readers attention.
    • Remember that a good title will tell your reader what your paper is about. Don’t try to be too clever or silly – and your title shouldn’t be a full sentence. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be any longer than five words.
    • Also, write your titles last, once you know what your paper is about as a whole. If you start with a title, you risk the chance of your title no longer reflecting your essay once you have completed it!
    The Title
  • 38.
    • Use your title to simply state the topic of your essay. This way, the reader has no question about what your essay will cover.
    • Use a colon to split your essay title into two sections. This will give your reader a basic topic and a narrowed focus.
    • Use a rhetorical question that you will answer in your essay in your title. This will give your reader an idea of what problem you essay will answer.
    Title Strategies

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