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Prewriting Techniques

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Prewriting Techniques

مُساهمة من طرف Hacker 008 في الثلاثاء أغسطس 23, 2011 10:05 pm

Pre-writing Techniques

Your professor has just given you an assignment. You are required to write a paper about a specific topic, or to
come up with a topic of your own. You begin to panic. "Where do I start?" you may ask yourself. "How do I
begin?"
First of all, take a deep breath and relax. You can do this! Aside from maintaining a positive attitude, here are a
couple of ideas you can use to get yourself organized. Keep in mind that the following techniques and advice
can be useful for both research papers and regular essays.
Prewriting techniques
The following procedures help you to unlock your memory and to associate your ideas with other experiences
and recollections in order to come up with a workable and interesting paper topic. Three such activities involve
directed questioning, freewriting, and brainstorming. You may not need to use all three, but you should acquaint
yourself with each activity to find one that is most productive for you.
Directed Questioning
If you already have a topic that interests you but are not sure how to approach it, try directed questioning.
Rather than encouraging you to expand your thinking, this method helps you to narrow your broad ideas. These
questions may prove helpful:
How can I describe the topic? How can I define the topic? How does the topic resemble or differ form other
topics? How does the topic work? How does the topic affect other things? Can I argue for or against the topic?
Why does this topic interest me? What ideas are generally associated with the topic?
Freewriting
Many people find that they can bring ideas for developing a topic to the surface through freewriting, a strategy
designed to "free" ideas from your subconscious mind and get them down on paper. This kind of writing is
"free" in another sense; you don't need to worry about punctuation, correct grammar usage, etc. Your main
objective is to write for a sustained period of time (ten to fifteen minutes) without stopping.
Freewriting can be open or focused. If you really do not have any idea what to write about, just begin to write
down your impressions and thoughts in an "open" freewrite. Filling the page with words may coax something
from your mind. Once you have done this, choose an idea or two from your open freewrite to explore in a more
"focused" freewrite. Writing down your thoughts about a more specific idea that came up in your open freewrite
will narrow down your topic even more, and hopefully will lead to the idea that will be the basis for your paper.
If you get stuck while you are freewriting and can not think of anything else to write, write the same word over
and over again until you can think of something to write. This way you will not break your train of thought.
Brainstorming
Another way to get ideas down on paper quickly is through brainstorming Start with a significant word or
phrase, and try to record everything that comes to your mind. If you reach a point where you can no longer
come up with any new ideas, ask a friend to help you brainstorm some fresh topics.
After you have finished brainstorming, take a look at the material you have generated. What items seem to go
together? What further connections can you see? What ideas and terms do you want to develop? What idea or
concept seems to dominate your list? What material is surprising? You may decide to use most of the items you
produced, or you may find only a few fragments to keep. However, one of these fragments may point the way to
a good paper.
Audience
As you prepare to write about your topic, it is important to consider the audience for whom you are writing. If
your audience is only your professor, for example, he or she may not require as much background information
about a topic as would be required for a more general audience of your peers. Knowing who your audience is
will help you decide how much information to present, and in what manner to present it. Be sure to ask your
professor if you are unsure about the audience your paper should be intended for.
Organizing your topic
Whether you have come up with a topic on your own or whether you are given a specific question to answer,
after you determine your audience, the next step is often to consider the order in which you will present
information about your topic. An essay usually follows this structured format: introduction, body, and
conclusion.
Note: Some writers are not comfortable thinking about the order of their ideas before they write them. They
may prefer to write a rough draft of their paper by letting their ideas flow freely and then crafting a structure for
their thoughts. This can produce excellent writing. However, keep in mind that whether you start your paper by
working from a specific structure or whether you start by writing freely and then restructuring your ideas to
follow a certain order, it is still important to have a strong sense of organization in your paper that works to
support your main idea. In your final draft your ideas should not just flow randomly; the reader should sense
that there is a reason why you have chosen to structure your ideas the way you have.
1. Your introduction will begin with a broad general statement related to your thesis.
An introduction gets the reader's attention and gives the reader enough background information to understand
your thesis, which is usually the last sentence in your introduction. A good introduction does not depend on the
reader being too familiar with the topic or assigned question. It also avoids being too general or obvious, and
defines key words or terms that are important to the reader's understanding of the topic. In addition, it sets the
overall tone of the paper, whether it be informative, persuasive, personal, formal, etc.
Think of your introduction as a way to prepare the reader for your main idea - start off general (but not boring),
and lead up to what you want the reader to believe by the end of your paper.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is a sentence that communicates the main idea of your paper to the reader. Your thesis tells
the reader what point you are going to make about your topic. If someone were to ask you, "What is the main
idea you want people to believe after reading your paper?", the sentence you would give in reply is your thesis
statement. Remember that a thesis statement does more than simply introduce the reader to the topic of your
paper; a thesis statement takes a stand on a topic.
Example:
Topic: Researching information on the internet
Thesis: Researching information on the internet has many disadvantages, including unreliable web sites, the
large amount of time it takes to find valuable information, and the difficulty of verifying the truth of the
information found.
Why is a thesis statement necessary?
Aside from making a paper more organized, a thesis causes you to focus your thoughts as you write. Knowing
what the main point of your essay is allows you to narrow down your information. You are then able to include
information that is relevant to your paper and weed out any unnecessary data.
Examples of how a thesis statement can be written:
A good thesis statement can be written in four different ways (or a combination of these styles may be used).
1. A strong controversial statement--
Bilingual education has not fulfilled its early promise.
2. A call to action--
All inner-city schools should set up bilingual programs.
3. A question that will be answered in the essay--
What can bilingual education accomplish for a child? It can lead to academic and personal development.
4. A preview or forecast of the structure of the essay--Bilingual education suffers from two main problems: the
shortage of trained teachers and the lack of parental involvement.
A thesis statement in a persuasive essay:
A thesis in a persuasive essay demonstrates where you stand on the issue. Although you consider alternative and
opposing arguments, you state your opinion clearly. Here is an example of a weak thesis statement in a
persuasive essay and its revision.
Needs Revision:
Bilingual education has advantages and disadvantages.
(This is a statement of fact; it does not express a conclusion or take a stand on the issue. This statement is too
vague.)
Revision:
A bilingual program is more effective than an immersion program in helping students to succeed academically.
(This thesis is not a simple statement of fact, but rather an opinion that will be supported with evidence in the
paper.)
Final thesis tips:
Once you have developed a good thesis, write it on an index card and prop it up next to your computer so you
will stick to the main point of your paper as you write.
Also, remember that you may want to change your thesis statement as you discover new views and information,
and that's okay. It's easier to change your thesis to fit the information in your paper than it is to go back and try
to fit your information to your thesis.
2. The paragraphs in the body of your paper following the introduction can include concrete details,
examples/incidents, facts and statistics, and supporting arguments.
The number of paragraphs in the body of your paper will be determined by the content of your paper.
Remember, it is a good idea to stick to one main idea per paragraph, without switching to new topics or
digressing.
Each sentence within your paragraphs should relate to the main topic sentence of that paragraph (the sentence
that states what the paragraph is going to be about - usually located at the beginning of each new paragraph). In
addition, each paragraph in your essay should support or relate in some way to your thesis statement.
To check whether you are sticking to one topic per paragraph and whether your paragraphs are related closely
enough to your thesis, try doing a backwards outline. After you have finished writing your draft, count the
number of paragraphs in your essay, writing the numbers on a separate sheet of paper. Then skim your draft and
write down enough words next to each number to represent what is in each paragraph.
If you find that you have a lot of words with little relationship to each other next to your numbers, you should
probably go back to your draft and rework your paragraphs so that they each cover only one main idea. Also, if
you find that you have paragraphs which cover information unrelated to your thesis, you might want to consider
either cutting or modifying those paragraphs in some way. Finally, doing a backwards outline like this will
show you whether or not you have followed a consistant outline in the organization of your ideas, and it will
assist you in reorganizing your ideas if necessary so that you are following a consistent outline.
3. Your conclusion will summarize the main points in your essay.
Your concluding paragraph should also include (usually at the very beginning or the very end of your
paragraph) a restatement of your thesis using different words. You should end your conclusion on a strong note,
without apologizing for anything in your paper and without introducing completely new ideas that were not
covered in your paper. It is often a good idea to end your conclusion with a call to action or a comment
regarding the future as related to your topic.
Working from an outline
Once you have a general idea of what will go in the introduction, body, and conclusion of your paper, the next
step can be to develop a more specific outline in which you break down what specifically will be in each
paragraph of your essay. Although some students find it more effective to create an outline based on a draft that
they have already written, creating an outline ahead of time can help keep your writing more focused than
inventing paragraphs as you go. Either method can create great writing - you might want to experiment with
both methods to see which one works best for you.
The purpose of an outline:
An outline helps organize your ideas. An outline presents your material in a logical form. An outline shows the
relationship between the ideas in your writing. An outline constructs an ordered overview of your writing. An
outline defines boundaries and groups within your paper.
An important part of outlining your ideas is to remain consistent. For example, if you are presenting information
or ideas in a certain order at the beginning of your paper, don't switch that order half way through your paper.
This may confuse your reader. Try to make it obvious to your readers why and how you are presenting your
information so that they don't have to work at figuring out your organization as they are reading your paper.
Here is an example of an outline covering the topic of rain forest preservation.
OUTLINE
I. Introduction
A. Square miles
B. Location
C. Thesis:
Because of the valuable characteristics rain forests possess, the rapid destruction of the forests is creating
negative effects on the environment.
II. Characteristics of rain forests
A. Variety of species
B. Value of rain forests
1. Medicinal values
2. Food values
III. The destruction of rain forests
A. Rate at which rain forests are destroyed
B. Reasons why rain forests are destroyed
1. Poverty
2. Large company projects
IV. Effects on environment
A. Extinction of species
B. Global warming
V. Reactions
VI. Conclusion
A. Restate thesis
B. Key role
C. Consequences
Transitions
Once you understand how to organize the ideas in your paper, the next step is to figure out how to create logical
transitions between those ideas. A transition serves as a bridge connecting one paragraph, sentence, or word
with another. Not only does a transition signal a connection, it also identifies the kind of connection by
indicating to readers how the item preceding the transition relates to that which follows. Transitions help
readers anticipate how the next paragraph or sentence will affect the meaning of what they have just read.
Transitional words and phrases showing logical relations:
To introduce another item in a series: first, second, in the second place; for one thing...for another; next; then;
furthermore; moreover; in addition; finally; last; also; similarly; besides; and; as well as.
To introduce an illustration or other specification: in particular; specifically; for instance; for example; that is;
namely.
To introduce a result or a cause: consequently; as a result; hence; accordingly; thus; so; therefore; then; because;
since; for.
To introduce a restatement: that is; in other words; in simpler terms; to put it differently.
To introduce a conclusion or summary: in conclusion; finally; all in all; evidently; clearly; actually; to sum up;
altogether; of course.
To introduce an opposing point: but; however; yet; nevertheless; on the contrary; on the other hand; in contrast;
still; neither...nor.
To introduce a concession to an opposing view: certainly; naturally; of course; it is true; to be sure; granted.
To resume the original line of reasoning after a concession: nonetheless; all the same; even though; still;
nevertheless.
An easy way to go about making transitions between paragraphs is to use the 1/2 and 1/2 method. When you
begin a new paragraph, the first sentence of that paragraph should be half of what you just said and half of what
you are now going to say. However, the trick is that you need to find the connecting idea between the two
paragraphs.
Example:
Cats are the greatest pets to have. They are friendly, cuddly, and intelligent companions. Many people value
their cats so much that the cats seem like members of their family. Cats also do not need to be walked, or
otherwise exercised, very much. A ball of string is enough to keep them busy for hours.
In addition to cats being great pets, dogs are also wonderful pets to have. They provide protection in addition to
companionship, and they also help their owners get exercise through taking walks. Dogs are great for cheering
people up if they are in bad moods, and they are extremely loyal pets to have.
The connecting idea between these two paragraphs is that both cats and dogs make great pets.
Final tips:
Before you become overwhelmed by the entire writing process, here are a couple of final tips that may alleviate
some stress and tension.
Instead of just turning on the computer, writing until you have the number of pages required for the assignment,
then doing a spell check and turning the paper in, break the writing process down into small chunks. For
example, set aside a specific block of time in your day (20 minutes or so) to brainstorm ideas for your paper.
When you have completed this step, take a short break. Next, develop an outline that summarizes the main
points you want to cover in your paper. After this step is finished, you may then begin to jot down some ideas
that could be considered for a thesis statement. This whole process could take place within an hour, or you
could spread it out over a day or two if you prefer.
Next, begin writing a rough draft of your paper (it is helpful to start writing the day after you have completed
the steps above to give yourself time to think about your paper a little more). Proofread the paper yourself, and
then give it to a friend. He or she may be able to find errors that you overlooked the first time and offer other
helpful suggestions. Rewrite and revise until you come up with an end product that you can be proud of. This
process can take one day or more than a week, depending on the amount of time you have and the amount of
work you are willing to put forth to produce a strong piece of writing.
Remember, the writing process is a procedure that takes time, time, and more time. Do not expect yourself to sit
down the night before a paper is due and create a masterpiece. Give yourself ample time to organize, structure,
and edit your paper. In addition, it is important to go back and revise your draft several times. Try not to think
of your papers as being "done," however tempting that may be; strong writers recognize that writing is a
constant process of revisions to improve not only content but sentence structure and style as well.
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مُساهمة من طرف Sandy Bell في الأربعاء أغسطس 24, 2011 5:07 am

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مُساهمة من طرف Admin Yazid في الأربعاء أغسطس 24, 2011 3:48 pm

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مُساهمة من طرف Admin Hadi في الأربعاء أغسطس 24, 2011 8:14 pm

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مُساهمة من طرف Hacker 008 في الخميس أغسطس 25, 2011 7:00 am



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