Fundamentals of Writing

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Fundamentals of Writing, Part One: What to Do Before You Start Writing

Writing—just reading the word might make you cringe. There are many possible reasons why students do not like to write. Writing instructors usually hear My grammar is horrible, I had a writing teacher who marked up all my papers in red, or I just cannot think of anything.

Maybe you have similar reasons for not wanting to write; maybe you are excited to write, but you do not know where to start. If you break the process of writing into segments, it may not overwhelm you. Perhaps this process may also ease some of your anxieties and inspire you not only to write but also to enjoy writing.

Before you actually pick up a pen or start typing, stop and plan. Ask yourself the following questions and come up with answers before you start to write:

1. What are the instructions for this writing?
2. What is my purpose for writing?
3. Who is my audience?
4. How should the overall structure of my writing look?
5. What should my tone be?

Understand the Instructions

First, read the instructions. Whether it is an assignment from an instructor or a project from a boss, stop and read the instructions carefully so you know just what is expected. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask.

The following terms are frequently used in instructions for an assignment or a project. The definition will help you understand what to include in your writing.

|Term |Definition | | | | |Analyze |Identify the elements of a subject, and discuss how they work | | |together. | |Argue or Persuade |Take a position on a subject, and support your position with evidence.| |Compare and Contrast |Explain the similarities and differences between subjects. | |Define |Specify the meaning of a term or idea. | |Describe |Detail the events or characteristics that occurred as well as the | | |results. | |Discuss |Examine the main points of a view regarding a topic. | |Evaluate |Judge the qualities (pro and con) of a subject. | |Interpret |Explain the meaning of a concept or consequences of an action. | |Report |Present available information on a subject. | |Summarize |State the main points in a text, argument, or other work. |

Determine Your Purpose

After you know the assignment expectations, you can then determine your purpose, or reason for writing. Everything has a purpose. If you share a funny story with a friend, your purpose is to entertain. If you write a business proposal, your purpose is to persuade your manager to approve it. If a family member wonders why you are attending Axia, you may explain that your purpose is to get a college education.

If you are having trouble thinking of a purpose, try writing a brief...
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