Brainstorming.outlining.structuring

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Brainstorming.outlining.structuring

  1. 1. BRAINSTORMING, OUTLINING AND EFFECTIVELY STRUCTURING PAPERS
  2. 2. ¡  Brainstorming and “pre-writing” are crucial steps for effective writing because they help you organize ideas, prepare for naysayers, and strengthen the flow of your writing. ¡  Brainstorming, with the help of the techniques on the next page, is especially useful if you feel lost, have writing anxiety, when you are procrastinating, or when you have too many ideas. ¡  Brainstorming tactics can range from elaborate to informal; you simply need to find what works for you. BRAINSTORMING
  3. 3. ¡  Talking and Listening: This is very similar to a classroom discussion, or a conversation you might have with a friend or family member. You can bounce ideas off a real audience member and gather their input. ¡  Listing: This is a very simple strategy and involves jotting down questions or comments. Once you have created a list, you can begin to group them to understand their inherent connections, or how you see them as connected. ¡  Clustering: This tactic works best when you want to highlight relationships among ideas. You can begin by drawing a circle around your topic and surrounding that circle with connected ideas. ¡  Freewriting: First, consider your topic, or in our case, your program. Then, just let yourself write without censoring your ideas. ¡  Asking Journalistic Questions: You can ask who, what, where, when, and why to help you understand the background of your topic and to try to predict exactly what the reader would like to know. BRAINSTORMING TACTICS
  4. 4. ¡  An Introduction Should Include: §  A hook, or lead-in, something to engage your reader §  A thesis §  A roadmap §  After reading your introduction, your reader should be able to explain exactly what your paper will include. WRITING INTRODUCTIONS
  5. 5. ¡  Once you have experimented with the various tactics, you should consider your thesis and the rest of the paper’s format. Conceptualizing your thesis before you begin writing is crucial in some types of writing. Otherwise, your paper can be disjointed and ineffective. ¡  In certain cases, like research papers, you want to organically arrive at your conclusion, or thesis, through investigation. In this case, you would first want to formulate your research question and use that as your paper’s guiding principle. If, for example, you wrote a research paper where you led with your thesis and then spent the remainder of the paper arguing for that thesis, your research paper would be one-sided and it would lack credibility. ¡  A thesis can be the answer to a question that you have posed, an exploration (you may consider this type of thesis when writing your Industry Paper), the resolution to a problem you have identified, or a statement that takes a position or demonstrates your unique assertion. Consider which of these approaches might work best for the Program Analysis. THESES
  6. 6. ¡  An Answer to a Question You Have Posed: §  Question: Do programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report promote cynicism? §  Answer/Thesis: While contemporary media scholarship seems divided on this issue, I found the existing research to be problematic because no universal measurement for cynicism exists. §  Note: Very rarely will you have a simple answer to your question, which makes for an interesting paper. Instead of simple solutions, you may encounter problems, logical fallacies, new questions, etc. ¡  An Exploration §  I plan to examine News Corporation’s corporate history, ownership structure, and marketing strategies to better understand their programming choices. ¡  A Statement That Takes a Position or Demonstrates Your Unique Assertion §  Based on my extensive research, I believe that my proposed television program, Bayside Reunion 90210, will successfully attract the desired tween market and entice advertisers. §  I suggest we abandon the traditional binary of active and passive audience members in favor of a more nuanced conception of media consumers. EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT THESES
  7. 7. ¡  Once you have developed your potential thesis, you can use the following questions from Diana Hacker’s (2009) Rules for Writers to test and refine it: §  “Does the thesis require an essay’s worth of development? Will you be able to include all of your support? Or, will you run out of points too quickly?” §  “Is the thesis too obvious? If you cannot come up with interpretations that oppose your own, consider revising your thesis.” §  “Can you support your thesis with the evidence available?” TESTING YOUR THESIS
  8. 8. ¡  Leading into, or following your thesis, you should present a roadmap that details how and why you will prove or explore your thesis. ¡  Roadmaps are especially helpful when writing longer papers, because they give your audience necessary insight into your paper’s organization, which can eliminate confusion and increase your credibility. ¡  Some writers choose to employ multiple roadmaps to remind the reader of important concepts, and to transition into new sections and ideas. If you choose to use multiple roadmaps, essentially you want to tell the reader what you told them, then, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them why you told them. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROADMAP
  9. 9. §  I suggest we abandon the traditional binary of active and passive audience members in favor of a more nuanced conception of media consumers. ¡  Using this example, my goal is to show the reader how I arrived at my conclusion, so they can hopefully do the same. In this case, I would opt to place the roadmap first, so my conclusion may seem organic and logically sound. ¡  In the following paper, I begin to analyze the labor of decoding media, along with the economic implications of audience membership. I first used Shimpach’s main thesis to understand the role of modern media audiences and their labor functions. To provide a historical context, I conducted a literature review of texts relating to labor, commodification, and media. Finally, I completed a case study of the VH1 website, which functions as a social networking and fandom site in order to initiate an understanding of audience activity and to form a tangible example of Shimpach’s claims. I detail my methodology in a later section, which is followed by a discussion of my findings and plans for future research. ¡  A roadmap, of course, does not have to be this lengthy. Typical roadmaps include 1-3 sentences. ROADMAP EXAMPLE
  10. 10. ¡  According to the Toulmin Method, each body paragraph should have a claim, evidence, and a warrant. §  Claim: This is your topic sentence and details what the paragraph will be about. §  Evidence: Evidence often includes facts, statistics, expert opinion, or personal anecdotes, and it serves to bolster the claim. §  Warrant: A warrant is typically located at the end of your paragraph, and it serves as the paragraph’s “so what”. You can use the warrant to interpret the evidence and show how it supports your claim; ultimately, you are telling the reader how the information fits together. A strong warrant can also help you explain how the information in the paragraph relates to your thesis, and further, it can function as a transition to the next paragraph. STRUCTURING YOUR BODY PARAGRAPHS
  11. 11. ¡  The Toulmin Method can offer a quick and effective way to outline your paper. Further, once you have the claim, evidence, and warrant written, your paper is on the way to completion. ¡  Outlining is important because you can catch major errors and save yourself time later. ¡  Even if you do not have the time to complete a more nuanced outline, I suggest you at least jot down your main points to check for continuity. USING THE TOULMIN METHOD TO OUTLINE YOUR PAPER
  12. 12. ¡  Thesis: ¡  Body Paragraph 1: §  Claim: §  Evidence: Simply list which sources you plan to incorporate. §  Warrant ¡  Body Paragraph 2: §  Claim: §  Evidence: Simply list which sources you plan to incorporate. §  Warrant SAMPLE TOULMIN METHOD OUTLINE
  13. 13. ¡  In your conclusion, you should summarize your main points without being repetitive. Avoid using similar phrasing and syntax. ¡  A conclusion should ultimately open a discussion, not conclude one, so you want to leave your reader with “food for thought”, which can be accomplished by posing a call to action, discussing the topic’s wider significance, suggesting a question for future study, etc. WRITING CONCLUSIONS
  14. 14. ¡  If you have written your document, but you still have concerns about the organization, you can always evaluate your paper’s flow and logical progression by constructing a reverse outline. ¡  Begin by highlighting or underlining your thesis, then move to the first body paragraph. Highlight your claim, bracket your evidence, and underline your warrant. Now that you’ve identified the main components of the paragraph, ask yourself some questions: (1) Does the claim clearly explain the content of the paragraph? Does it logically correspond to your thesis or research question? (2) Does the evidence strongly support the claim? (3) Does the warrant interpret the evidence and support the claim? Does your paragraph feel adequately concluded? TESTING YOUR STRUCTURE: REVERSE OUTLINING
  15. 15. ¡  Now, you apply that same process to each paragraph. ¡  If you answered “no” to any of the questions, you should certainly revise. ¡  Once you have gone through all of your body paragraphs, look only at the way your claims progress. Does the trajectory make sense? Would it make sense to another person? TESTING YOUR STRUCTURE: REVERSE OUTLINING
  16. 16. Hacker, D. (2009). Rules for writers. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. WORKS CITED

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