December 2009 Inspire!
Five Tips to Writing Success
December 2009 Inspire!
It is 3:30 pm and Janice Robertson has just asked her twelve-year-old daughter, Emma, to write a two-page essay on the formation of volcanoes. As Janice prepares dinner, she notices Emma staring blankly at the paper. Ten more minutes pass and Emma is still not writing. Well aware of her daughter's disdain for writing papers, Janice sighs and walks over to the table to offer her assistance and finds Emma doodling flowers in the margin. What can Janice do to encourage her daughter's inner writer?
Writing is a process that involves five distinct steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. It is important for a writer to work through each of the steps in order to ensure that he has produced a polished, complete piece. The writing process is not always linear. A writer may move back and forth between steps as needed. For example, while your student is revising, he might have to return to the prewriting step to develop and expand his ideas.
Prewriting is anything one does before writing a draft of a document. It includes thinking, taking notes, talking to others, brainstorming, outlining, and gathering information. Although prewriting is the first activity one engages in, generating ideas is an activity that occurs throughout the writing process. During prewriting a writer will choose a manageable topic, identify a purpose and audience, draft a sentence that expresses the main idea of piece, gather information about the topic, and begin to organize the information.
How does a writer get ideas?
Unless a specific topic is assigned, it can be a challenge for a writer to select an idea for a particular piece. It is recommended that writers keep a notebook of ideas to use as a reference. As a writer thinks of a possible topic, he can record it in his idea notebook for use in a future piece. Some ideas might come from:
Types of Prewriting
Brainstorming is a quick, informal way of gathering ideas for a writing topic. When brainstorming, a writer lists everything relating to a topic as quickly as possible. This prewriting strategy works best for narrative writing, but is also a good way to gauge the amount of knowledge a writer has about the topic of an expository piece. The writer should not worry about whether the idea will fit in to his piece. The goal of brainstorming is to help the writer gather any and all thoughts on a topic, including facts and feelings about the subject. Though a writer can brainstorm alone, it can be helpful to work with a partner to bounce ideas off of and create a comprehensive list of ideas relating to a topic.
Freewriting is similar to brainstorming in that it is a quick method for gathering ideas on a topic. With freewriting, however, the writer generates a lot of information by writing non-stop for a set period of time (perhaps five or ten minutes). During this time, the writer will write down everything on a topic that comes to mind, forcing himself to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to mind. This might mean that the writer will include items that may be of no benefit to the finished product, simply jotting down phrases such as "I need to keep writing," or "Scribble, scribble, scribble!"
Some writers gather ideas by asking the questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? This is a good way to begin writing a story, an essay, or a research paper. These questions are used to explore the topic that is being written about and determine which information might be needed to write a paper on a certain topic.
Questioning can be used for both fiction and non-fiction writing. When creating a story, a writer might ask himself:
For a non-fiction piece, such as a report on a current event, the writer may ask himself questions such as: