Minggu, 12 Februari 2012

Invention: Starting the Writing Process

Writing takes time
Find out when is the assignment due and devise a plan of action. This may seem obvious and irrelevant to the writing process, but it's not. Writing is a process, not merely a product. Even the best professional writers don't just sit down at a computer, write, and call it a day. The quality of your writing will reflect the time and forethought you put into the assignment. Plan ahead for the assignment by doing pre-writing: this will allow you to be more productive and organized when you sit down to write. Also, schedule several blocks of time to devote to your writing; then, you can walk away from it for a while and come back later to make changes and revisions with a fresh mind.
Use the rhetorical elements as a guide to think through your writing
Thinking about your assignment in terms of the rhetorical situation can help guide you in the beginning of the writing process. Topic, audience, genre, style, opportunity, research, the writer, and purpose are just a few elements that make up the rhetorical situation.
Topic and audience are often very intertwined and work to inform each other. Start with a broad view of your topic such as skateboarding, pollution, or the novel Jane Eyre and then try to focus or refine your topic into a concise thesis statement by thinking about your audience. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about audience:
  • Who is the audience for your writing?
  • Do you think your audience is interested in the topic? Why or why not?
  • Why should your audience be interested in this topic?
  • What does your audience already know about this topic?
  • What does your audience need to know about this topic?
  • What experiences has your audience had that would influence them on this topic?
  • What do you hope the audience will gain from your text?
For example, imagine that your broad topic is dorm food. Who is your audience? You could be writing to current students, prospective students, parents of students, university administrators, or nutrition experts among others. Each of these groups would have different experiences with and interests in the topic of dorm food. While students might be more concerned with the taste of the food or the hours food is available, parents might be more concerned with the price.
You can also think about opportunity as a way to refine or focus your topic by asking yourself what current events make your topic relevant at this moment. For example, you could connect the nutritional value of dorm food to the current debate about the obesity epidemic or you could connect the price value of dorm food to the rising cost of a college education overall.
Keep in mind the purpose of the writing assignment.
Writing can have many different purposes. Here are just a few examples:
  • Summarizing: Presenting the main points or essence of another text in a condensed form
  • Arguing/Persuading: Expressing a viewpoint on an issue or topic in an effort to convince others that your viewpoint is correct
  • Narrating: Telling a story or giving an account of events
  • Evaluating: Examining something in order to determine its value or worth based on a set of criteria.
  • Analyzing: Breaking a topic down into its component parts in order to examine the relationships between the parts.
  • Responding: Writing that is in a direct dialogue with another text.
  • Examining/Investigating: Systematically questioning a topic to discover or uncover facts that are not widely known or accepted, in a way that strives to be as neutral and objective as possible.
  • Observing: Helping the reader see and understand a person, place, object, image or event that you have directly watched or experienced through detailed sensory descriptions.
You could be observing your dorm cafeteria to see what types of food students are actually eating, you could be evaluating the quality of the food based on freshness and quantity, or you could be narrating a story about how you gained fifteen pounds your first year at college.
You may need to use several of these writing strategies within your paper. For example you could summarize federal nutrition guidelines, evaluate whether the food being served at the dorm fits those guidelines, and then argue that changes should be made in the menus to better fit those guidelines.
Pre-writing strategies
Once you have thesis statement just start writing! Don't feel constrained by format issues. Don't worry about spelling, grammar, or writing in complete sentences. Brainstorm and write down everything you can think of that might relate to the thesis and then reread and evaluate the ideas you generated. It's easier to cut out bad ideas than to only think of good ones. Once you have a handful of useful ways to approach the thesis you can use a basic outline structure to begin to think about organization. Remember to be flexible; this is just a way to get you writing. If better ideas occur to you as you're writing, don't be afraid to refine your original ideas.
Introduction to Prewriting (Invention)
Summary: This section explains the prewriting (invention) stage of the composing process. It includes processes, strategies, and questions to help you begin to write.
Contributors:Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2011-06-08 02:40:36
When you sit down to write...
  • Does your mind turn blank?
  • Are you sure you have nothing to say?
If so, you're not alone. Many writers experience this at some time or another, but some people have strategies or techniques to get them started. When you are planning to write something, try some of the following suggestions.
You can try the textbook formula:
1.    State your thesis.
2.    Write an outline.
3.    Write the first draft.
4.    Revise and polish.
. . . but that often doesn't work.
Instead, you can try one or more of these strategies:
Ask yourself what your purpose is for writing about the subject.
There are many "correct" things to write about for any subject, but you need to narrow down your choices. For example, your topic might be "dorm food." At this point, you and your potential reader are asking the same question, "So what?" Why should you write about this, and why should anyone read it?
Do you want the reader to pity you because of the intolerable food you have to eat there?
Do you want to analyze large-scale institutional cooking?
Do you want to compare Purdue's dorm food to that served at Indiana University?
Ask yourself how you are going to achieve this purpose.
How, for example, would you achieve your purpose if you wanted to describe some movie as the best you've ever seen? Would you define for yourself a specific means of doing so? Would your comments on the movie go beyond merely telling the reader that you really liked it?
Start the ideas flowing
Brainstorm. Gather as many good and bad ideas, suggestions, examples, sentences, false starts, etc. as you can. Perhaps some friends can join in. Jot down everything that comes to mind, including material you are sure you will throw out. Be ready to keep adding to the list at odd moments as ideas continue to come to mind.
Talk to your audience, or pretend that you are being interviewed by someone — or by several people, if possible (to give yourself the opportunity of considering a subject from several different points of view). What questions would the other person ask? You might also try to teach the subject to a group or class.
See if you can find a fresh analogy that opens up a new set of ideas. Build your analogy by using the word like. For example, if you are writing about violence on television, is that violence like clowns fighting in a carnival act (that is, we know that no one is really getting hurt)?
Take a rest and let it all percolate.
Summarize your whole idea.
Tell it to someone in three or four sentences.
Diagram your major points somehow.
Make a tree, outline, or whatever helps you to see a schematic representation of what you have. You may discover the need for more material in some places. Write a first draft.
Then, if possible, put it away. Later, read it aloud or to yourself as if you were someone else. Watch especially for the need to clarify or add more information.
You may find yourself jumping back and forth among these various strategies.
You may find that one works better than another. You may find yourself trying several strategies at once. If so, then you are probably doing something right.
Writing a Research Paper
Summary: This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
Contributors:Jack Raymond Baker, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:43:38
The Research Paper
There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics, and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.
Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally; remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, a student will find that she can achieve great things through her research and writing.
This handout will include the following sections related to the process of writing a research paper:
  • Genre- this section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic- this section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses himself.
  • Identifying an Audience- this section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin- this section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.

Close Reading a Text and Avoiding Pitfalls

Summary: This handout covers major topics relating to writing about fiction. This covers prewriting, close reading, thesis development, drafting, and common pitfalls to avoid.
Contributors:Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:26:08
Also see the OWL handout on Writing about Literature and the OWL handout on Literary Terms.
Writing about a story or novel can be difficult because fiction is generally very complex and usually includes several points or themes. To discover these interwoven meanings, you must read the work closely. Below are three techniques for reading fiction actively and critically. Close reading takes more time than quick, superficial reading, but doing a close reading will save you from a lot of frustration and anxiety when you begin to develop your thesis.

Close Reading a Text

Use these "tracking" methods to yield a richer understanding of the text and lay a solid ground work for your thesis.
1.    Use a highlighter, but only after you've read for comprehension. The point of highlighting at this stage is to note key passages, phrases, turning points in the story.
Highlighting too much
Highlighting without notes in the margins
2.    Write marginal notes in the text.
These should be questions, comments, dialogue with the text itself.
A paragraph from Doris Lessing's short story "A Woman on a Roof" serves as an example:
The second paragraph could have a note from the reader like this:
Marginal Notes
Why is the man annoyed by the sunbather? Is Lessing commenting on sexist attitudes?
Then they saw her, between chimneys, about fifty yards away. She lay face down on a brown blanket. They could see the top part of her: black hair, aflushed solid back, arms spread out.
"She's stark naked," said Stanley, sounding annoyed.

3.    Keep a notebook for freewrite summaries and response entries.
Write quickly after your reading: ask questions, attempt answers and make comments about whatever catches your attention. A good question to begin with when writing response entries is "What point does the author seem to be making?"
4.    Step back.
After close reading and annotating, can you now make a statement about the story's meaning? Is the author commenting on a certain type of person or situation? What is that comment?

Avoiding Pitfalls

These four common assumptions about writing about fiction interfere with rather than help the writer. Learn to avoid them.
1.    Plot Summary Syndrome
Assumes that the main task is simply recalling what happened in detail. Plot summary is just one of the requirements of writing about fiction, not the intended goal.
2.    Right Answer Roulette
Assumes that writing about fiction is a "no win" game in which the student writer is forced to try to guess the RIGHT ANSWER that only the professor knows.
3.    The "Everything is Subjective" Shuffle
Assumes that ANY interpretation of any literary piece is purely whimsy or personal taste. It ignores the necessity of testing each part of an interpretation against the whole text, as well as the need to validate each idea by reference to specifics from the text or quotations and discussion from the text.
4.    The "How Can You Write 500 Words About One Short Story?" Blues
Assumes that writing the paper is only a way of stating the answer rather than an opportunity to explore an idea or explain what your own ideas are and why you have them. This sometimes leads to "padding," repeating the same idea in different words or worse, indiscriminate "expert" quoting: using too many quotes or quotes that are too long with little or no discussion.
Strategies for Variation
Summary: This resource presents methods for adding sentence variety and complexity to writing that may sound repetitive or boring. Sections are divided into general tips for varying structure, a discussion of sentence types, and specific parts of speech which can aid in sentence variety.
Contributors:Ryan Weber, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:36:37
Adding sentence variety to prose can give it life and rhythm. Too many sentences with the same structure and length can grow monotonous for readers. Varying sentence style and structure can also reduce repetition and add emphasis. Long sentences work well for incorporating a lot of information, and short sentences can often maximize crucial points. These general tips may help add variety to similar sentences.
1. Vary the rhythm by alternating short and long sentences.
Several sentences of the same length can make for bland writing. To enliven paragraphs, write sentences of different lengths. This will also allow for effective emphasis.
Example: The Winslow family visited Canada and Alaska last summer to find some native American art. In Anchorage stores they found some excellent examples of soapstone carvings. But they couldn't find a dealer selling any of the woven wall hangings they wanted. They were very disappointed when they left Anchorage empty-handed.
Revision: The Winslow family visited Canada and Alaska last summer to find some native American art, such as soapstone carvings and wall hangings. Anchorage stores had many soapstone items available. Still, they were disappointed to learn that wall hangings, which they had especially wanted, were difficult to find. Sadly, they left empty-handed.
Example: Many really good blues guitarists have all had the last name King. They have been named Freddie King and Albert King and B.B. King. The name King must make a bluesman a really good bluesman. The bluesmen named King have all been very talented and good guitar players. The claim that a name can make a guitarist good may not be that far fetched.
Revision: What makes a good bluesman? Maybe, just maybe, it's all in a stately name. B.B. King. Freddie King. Albert King. It's no coincidence that they're the royalty of their genre. When their fingers dance like court jesters, their guitars gleam like scepters, and their voices bellow like regal trumpets, they seem almost like nobility. Hearing their music is like walking into the throne room. They really are kings.
2. Vary sentence openings.
If too many sentences start with the same word, especially "The," "It," "This," or "I," prose can grow tedious for readers, so changing opening words and phrases can be refreshing. Below are alternative openings for a fairly standard sentence. Notice that different beginnings can alter not only the structure but also the emphasis of the sentence. They may also require rephrasing in sentences before or after this one, meaning that one change could lead to an abundance of sentence variety.
Example: The biggest coincidence that day happened when David and I ended up sitting next to each other at the Super Bowl.
Possible Revisions:
  • Coincidentally, David and I ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • In an amazing coincidence, David and I ended up sitting next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • Sitting next to David at the Super Bowl was a tremendous coincidence.
  • But the biggest coincidence that day happened when David and I ended up sitting next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • When I sat down at the Super Bowl, I realized that, by sheer coincidence, I was directly next to David.
  • By sheer coincidence, I ended up sitting directly next to David at the Super Bowl.
  • With over 50,000 fans at the Super Bowl, it took an incredible coincidence for me to end up sitting right next to David.
  • What are the odds that I would have ended up sitting right next to David at the Super Bowl?
  • David and I, without any prior planning, ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • Without any prior planning, David and I ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • At the crowded Super Bowl, packed with 50,000 screaming fans, David and I ended up sitting right next to each other by sheer coincidence.
  • Though I hadn't made any advance arrangements with David, we ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • Many amazing coincidences occurred that day, but nothing topped sitting right next to David at the Super Bowl.
  • Unbelievable, I know, but David and I ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.
  • Guided by some bizarre coincidence, David and I ended up sitting right next to each other at the Super Bowl.

On Paragraphs

Summary: The purpose of this handout is to give some basic instruction and advice regarding the creation of understandable and coherent paragraphs.
Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:32:46

What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic. Learning to write good paragraphs will help you as a writer stay on track during your drafting and revision stages. Good paragraphing also greatly assists your readers in following a piece of writing. You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas aren't presented in an organized fashion, you will lose your readers (and fail to achieve your goals in writing).

The Basic Rule: Keep One Idea to One Paragraph

The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph. There are some simple ways to tell if you are on the same topic or a new one. You can have one idea and several bits of supporting evidence within a single paragraph. You can also have several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic of the paragraph. If the single points start to get long, then perhaps elaborating on each of them and placing them in their own paragraphs is the route to go.

Elements of a Paragraph

To be as effective as possible, a paragraph should contain each of the following: Unity, Coherence, A Topic Sentence, and Adequate Development. As you will see, all of these traits overlap. Using and adapting them to your individual purposes will help you construct effective paragraphs.


The entire paragraph should concern itself with a single focus. If it begins with a one focus or major point of discussion, it should not end with another or wander within different ideas.


Coherence is the trait that makes the paragraph easily understandable to a reader. You can help create coherence in your paragraphs by creating logical bridges and verbal bridges.

Logical bridges

  • The same idea of a topic is carried over from sentence to sentence
  • Successive sentences can be constructed in parallel form

Verbal bridges

  • Key words can be repeated in several sentences
  • Synonymous words can be repeated in several sentences
  • Pronouns can refer to nouns in previous sentences
  • Transition words can be used to link ideas from different sentences

A topic sentence

A topic sentence is a sentence that indicates in a general way what idea or thesis the paragraph is going to deal with. Although not all paragraphs have clear-cut topic sentences, and despite the fact that topic sentences can occur anywhere in the paragraph (as the first sentence, the last sentence, or somewhere in the middle), an easy way to make sure your reader understands the topic of the paragraph is to put your topic sentence near the beginning of the paragraph. (This is a good general rule for less experienced writers, although it is not the only way to do it). Regardless of whether you include an explicit topic sentence or not, you should be able to easily summarize what the paragraph is about.

Adequate development

The topic (which is introduced by the topic sentence) should be discussed fully and adequately. Again, this varies from paragraph to paragraph, depending on the author's purpose, but writers should beware of paragraphs that only have two or three sentences. It's a pretty good bet that the paragraph is not fully developed if it is that short.
Some methods to make sure your paragraph is well-developed:
  • Use examples and illustrations
  • Cite data (facts, statistics, evidence, details, and others)
  • Examine testimony (what other people say such as quotes and paraphrases)
  • Use an anecdote or story
  • Define terms in the paragraph
  • Compare and contrast
  • Evaluate causes and reasons
  • Examine effects and consequences
  • Analyze the topic
  • Describe the topic
  • Offer a chronology of an event (time segments)

How do I know when to start a new paragraph?

You should start a new paragraph when:
  • When you begin a new idea or point. New ideas should always start in new paragraphs. If you have an extended idea that spans multiple paragraphs, each new point within that idea should have its own paragraph.
  • To contrast information or ideas. Separate paragraphs can serve to contrast sides in a debate, different points in an argument, or any other difference.
  • When your readers need a pause. Breaks in paragraphs function as a short "break" for your readers—adding these in will help your writing more readable. You would create a break if the paragraph becomes too long or the material is complex.
  • When you are ending your introduction or starting your conclusion. Your introductory and concluding material should always be in a new paragraph. Many introductions and conclusions have multiple paragraphs depending on their content, length, and the writer's purpose.

Transitions and Signposts

Two very important elements of paragraphing are signposts and transitions. Signposts are internal aids to assist readers; they usually consist of several sentences or a paragraph outlining what the article has covered and where the article will be going.
Transitions are usually one or several sentences that "transition" from one idea to the next. Transitions can be used at the end of most paragraphs to help the paragraphs flow one into the next.
Annotated Bibliographies
Summary: This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
Contributors:Dana Bisignani, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2011-07-06 09:59:37
A bibliography is a list of sources (books, journals, websites, periodicals, etc.) one has used for researching a topic. Bibliographies are sometimes called "references" or "works cited" depending on the style format you are using. A bibliography usually just includes the bibliographic information (i.e., the author, title, publisher, etc.).
An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.
Therefore, an annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:
  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
For more help, see our handout on paraphrasing sources.
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
For more help, see our handouts on evaluating resources.
  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?
Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.
Why should I write an annotated bibliography?
To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you're forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit. To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of research is to state and support a thesis. So a very important part of research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you'll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you'll then be able to develop your own point of view.
To help other researchers: Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.
The format of an annotated bibliography can vary, so if you're doing one for a class, it's important to ask for specific guidelines.
The bibliographic information: Generally, though, the bibliographic information of the source (the title, author, publisher, date, etc.) is written in either MLA or APA format. For more help with formatting, see our MLA handout. For APA, go here: APA handout.
The annotations: The annotations for each source are written in paragraph form. The lengths of the annotations can vary significantly from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages. The length will depend on the purpose. If you're just writing summaries of your sources, the annotations may not be very long. However, if you are writing an extensive analysis of each source, you'll need more space.
You can focus your annotations for your own needs. A few sentences of general summary followed by several sentences of how you can fit the work into your larger paper or project can serve you well when you go to draft.


Summary: This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.
Contributors:Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2011-10-19 02:27:10

What Makes a Good Literature Paper?

An argument

When you write an extended literary essay, often one requiring research, you are essentially making an argument. You are arguing that your perspective-an interpretation, an evaluative judgment, or a critical evaluation-is a valid one.

A debatable thesis statement

Like any argument paper you have ever written for a first-year composition course, you must have a specific, detailed thesis statement that reveals your perspective, and, like any good argument, your perspective must be one which is debatable.
You would not want to make an argument of this sort:
Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge.
That doesn't say anything-it's basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.
A better thesis would be this:
Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother.
That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) whyhe's in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.
You also want to avoid a thesis statement like this:
Spirituality means different things to different people. King Lear, The Book of Romans, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance each view the spirit differently.
Again, that says nothing that's not already self-evident. Why bother writing a paper about that? You're not writing an essay to list works that have nothing in common other than a general topic like "spirituality." You want to find certain works or authors that, while they may have several differences, do have some specific, unifying point. That point is your thesis.
A better thesis would be this:
Lear, Romans, and Zen each view the soul as the center of human personality.
Then you prove it, using examples from the texts that show that the soul is the center of personality.

Tidak ada komentar:

Posting Komentar