Presentation on theme: "THE UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM The Writing Process."— Presentation transcript:
THE UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM The Writing Process
Overview of the Writing Process Pre-writing strategies General strategies Using requirements as a guide Solidifying the plan for the paper Writing the paper Keeping your focus Adjusting your plan Revision and finishing strategies Reading for content Editing techniques
What is the writing process? The writing process covers the generation of the entire paper. The main parts of the process are: Pre-writing Writing Post-writing The process is highly customizable, but the general logic of the process always applies.
Pre-writing: General Strategies Purpose Understand why you are writing. Are you informing, describing, advocating, observing, or proposing? Some other purpose? Audience For whom are you writing? Understand the expectations of your audience and any format or research requirements necessary. Organization Prepare a flexible writing/researching schedule and decide upon the organizational method that will work best for the project.
Pre-writing: Purpose and Audience Your reason Why are you writing? Why is this topic important? What are you trying to accomplish? What requirements do you need to meet? Find a starting point for your research. Your audience Understand your audience’s expectations. Consider what your audience already knows, and what your it will need to know in order to understand your paper’s content.
Pre-writing: Brainstorming Idea and topic generation Generate ideas and start to think about addressing the requirements, purpose, and audience. Topic can often be dictated by an assignment, but many times the writer has freedom to pick a specific angle or subtopic to expand upon.
Pre-writing: Brainstorming Brainstorming outside of pre-writing Sometimes, an unfamiliarity with the subject means that picking the topic takes place during the research process. During the actual writing stage or when reviewing the paper, the writer may find a logical hole or misstep, or might find that a subtopic or point requires more support.
Pre-writing: Brainstorming Many methods for many minds Jotting down ideas An outline Diagrams of order Topics and things of interest within the subject Talking about the subject or topic
Pre-writing: Organization Planning Create a tentative schedule. Include time for stages of generation, research, organization of materials, actual writing, and revision. Research Stages If specific topic is undecided or unknown, survey the general subject. Try to formulate a plan when researching, and understand that information desired is not necessarily information available. Be able to adjust. Pick sources that fit the topic—or modify the topic to fit chosen research. Be cohesive.
Pre-writing: Organization Keep research organized. Note and/or bibliography cards Sticky notes Traditional notes Annotated outline Coding Using section headers as organizational aids Tracking sources early assists in later stages of writing, when creating accurate in-text citations and the bibliography.
Pre-writing: Thesis Thesis: The main idea of the written work stated in a declarative sentence. When is the thesis written? Traditionally, writers are taught to generate a thesis in the pre-writing stage. Some writers find it helpful to start with a tentative thesis. They then modify that thesis to match what they have written. As long as the paper has a single cohesive point, this method is perfectly acceptable.
Using Requirements as a Guide In pre-writing, make sure your plan and topic match and fulfill the given requirements. Make a check list, and keep it handy throughout the formulation of the paper. If organizing by research, notate what information fulfills requirements. Consider section headers that specifically cover requirements (i.e. “Rational,” “Research Design,” “Literature Review”) for organizational purposes. Headers may be omitted or left in the final paper, depending on formatting guidelines or requirements.
Pre-writing: Solidify the Plan Before leaving the pre-writing stage, the writer should have: A focus: thesis or tentative thesis A logical flow of information Research foreseeably complete Sources organized Time spent planning and organizing often dramatically reduces the time spent actually writing, minimizes structural revision, and avoids mid-paper research crises.
GETTING STARTED, STAYING ON TRACK, AND KNOWING WHEN TO ADJUST Writing the Paper
Starting to Write Establish that the paper is worth reading. Why does the topic matter? What is the paper about? What is the thesis and how will it be supported? Why is the thesis/focus of the paper relevant and important enough to spend time discussing? What is the context of the paper’s focus? Literary review Field situation Some writers outline these points and revise after the body of the paper is complete. It is better to start writing and revise a subpar introduction than to procrastinate.
Keep Focused Follow the plan. But... Do not be afraid to delete, reword, or adjust. Keep a “scratch” file if necessary so that writing is not lost during rewriting or deleting work If something does not add to the paper’s point, then it distracts from the point. Never have the reader wonder why a topic is being covered. Clarify logical connections and demonstrate importance to the topic.
Changing Focus? Some writers think through their topic as they write. In these cases, sometimes a writer finds a consistent deviation from the initial writing plan. This requires the writer to “go back” and revise throughout the paper to make sure that the new or developed focus is consistent. Often, the introduction and transition elements of the paper will require the most revision. These revisions can take place during the writing process, during the finishing process, or both.
Writing When writing, try to complete a set amount of work per writing session. Periodically refer back to the paper’s requirements. Consider using headers for organization, even if the headers will be deleted in the final product. Make sure all sources are given due credit. It should be clear what thought or material does not originate from the writer.
Between Writing and Revising The line between revising and writing can be blurred for some writers. Some writers prefer to finish all writing before beginning the revision process. Others prefer to revise and edit as they write. At some point, however, the writing is “done.” This does not mean that the paper is actually complete.
Revision: Logic Have a reason for everything. Of the whole paper’s logical flow Of each paragraph’s topic and cohesion Of every sentence’s necessity Of every word choice and inclusion
Revision: Content Try to be objective and look at the paper as a first-time reader. The writer must examine the paper and constantly ask, “Why is this here?” If the answer is not obvious or not demonstrated, then make the connection clear. If the reason is tenuous, delete. Eliminate redundancies.
Editing Clarity and proper grammar allow the reader to focus on the content of what is said instead of how it is stated. Be concise in word choice.
Editing Know your weaknesses. Search for them within the paper. Grammatical issues such as: Comma usage, word choice, word repetition, redundancy, subject/verb agreement, pronoun/antecedent usage, etc. Take breaks. Tired writers may find themselves skimming instead of closely examining the paper. Even when you consider yourself “done,” edit once more.
Editing Tips Read the paper aloud, exactly as it is written. Mimics the “first look” aspect that a reader will experience. Separates what the writer thinks the paper says from what is actually written. Allows for many writers to listen for word order, awkwardness, and comma errors. Read the paper backwards, sentence by sentence, to isolate grammar from its contextual meaning. Print the paper, and edit the printout. Edit in stages to avoid fatigue.
Customization of the Writing Process The process is intended to provide planning and divide the whole writing task into manageable sections. Every person thinks differently. Similarly, every person will find the writing process different.
Review Pre-writing Have a focus. Have support for the focus. Prepare research necessary for that support. Be sure the focus, supporting points, and research fits any and all requirements Be ready so that when actual writing begins, all information is prepared to minimize time spent writing
Review Writing Use the plan developed in pre-writing. If modifying the plan, be sure to continue to fulfill necessary requirements. Make or note all sources when they are used to avoid later confusion. Post-writing Check the logic of the paper. Be sure everything stated is necessary, and everything necessary is stated. Edit closely.