Assessing the writing situation
For most college writing, you’ll be writing in response to an assignment. When doing that, make sure it follows these general guidelines. * The subject should be suitable for the assignment
* It shouldn’t be too general or too limited for the length of the project and the deadline assigned. * It should be about something that interests you and that you are willing to learn more about. For a relatively brief paper, you need a narrow focus in order to provide the specific details that make writing significant and interesting- all within the required length and deadline. The general purposes for writing:
* To entertain readers
* To express your feelings or ideas
* To explain something to readers
* To persuade readers to accept or act on your opinion
Writing that is mainly explanatory is called exposition.
Writing that is primarily persuasive is called an argument.
You want your instructor to see that you can competently read and write about others’ work. As a reader, you know what readers expect from writing:
* Context: the link between what they read and their own knowledge and experiences. * Predictability: An understanding of the writer’s purpose and how it is being achieved. * Information: The specific facts, examples, and other details that make the subject clear, interesting, and convincing. * Respect: A sense that the writer respects their values and beliefs, their backgrounds, and their intelligence. * Voice: A sense that the writer is a real person whose mind and values are expressed in the writing. * Readability, clarity, and correctness: writing that is organized, focused, and free of unnecessary stumbling blocks and mistakes. Genre- types of writing to express ideas.
Whatever techniques you use, do your work in writing, not in your head.
Use a journal. If you’re just absorbing literature and not interacting with it, you aren’t going to have much to say about it. Freewriting- writing without stopping for a certain amount of time. The goal of freewriting is to generate ideas and information from within yourself by going around the part of your brain that doesn’t want to write or can’t think of anything to say. Revising the Thesis Statement
* How well does the subject of your statement capture the subject of your paper? * What claim does your statement make about your subject? * What is the significance of the claim?
* How can the claim be limited or be more specific? Does it state a single idea and clarify the boundaries of the idea? * How unified is the statement? How does each word and phrase contribute to a single idea? * How well does the statement convey your voice?
You may need more than one sentence for your thesis statement, particularly if it requires some buildup.
Example: “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits that interfere with clear thinking. Getting rid of these habits is a first step to political regeneration.” -Adapted from George Orwell,
“Politics and the English Language”
Two Qualities of Effective Writing
* An essay has unity if all its parts relate to and support the thesis statement. * An essay has coherence if readers can see the relations among parts and move easily from one thought to the next. Writing an Argument
A good subject:
* Concerns a matter of opinion- a conclusion drawn from evidence. * Can be disputed- others might take a different position. * Will be disputed: it is controversial.
* Is something you care about and know about or want to research. * Is narrow enough to argue in the space and time available. A bad subject:
* Cannot be disputed because it concerns a fact, such as the distance to the moon. * Cannot be disputed because it concerns a personal preference or belief. * Will not be disputed because few if any disagree over it. The purpose in argument is to engage readers in order to convince them of your position or persuade them to act. Arguments have specific purposes, such as:
* To strengthen the commitment of existing supporters
* To win new supporters from the undecided or uninformed
* To get the opposition to reconsider
* To inspire supporters to act
* To deter the undecided from acting
A common way to handle opposing views is to state them, refute those that you can, grant the validity of others, and demonstrate why, despite their validity, the opposing views are less compelling than your own. SEE PAGE 225 FOR CHECKLIST FOR ARGUMENTIVE ESSAY