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Pre-Writing and Outlining. ICS 139w 08/08/2011. Syllabus now available. http :// /. What is prewriting?. First stage of the writing process p rewriting d rafting r evising e diting publishing Prewriting is about figuring out what to write.

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Pre writing and outlining

Pre-Writing and Outlining

ICS 139w


Syllabus now available
Syllabus now available

What is prewriting
What is prewriting?

  • First stage of the writing process

    • prewriting

    • drafting

    • revising

    • editing

    • publishing

  • Prewriting is about figuring out what to write

Methods for prewriting
Methods for prewriting

  • Brainstorming

  • Looping (freewriting)

  • Mind-mapping

  • Outlining


  • Goal: get as many ideas on paper as possible

    • generate first, filter later

  • Start with a blank page and write down anything

    • Don’t worry if it’s a good idea or not, just get it down

  • Once finished, review for good ideas

Brainstorming exercise
Brainstorming Exercise

  • Individually, brainstorm as many ideas for technological “systems” as you can

    • Topics for Assignment 2

    • Can be familiar or unfamiliar

    • Software

      • an application, a website, a game, etc

    • Hardware

      • the newest gadget or device, etc

    • More abstract "system”

      • a network protocol, a socio-technical system, etc

        Share with a neighbor!

Pitfalls of brainstorming
Pitfalls of Brainstorming

  • Group vs. individual brainstorming sessions

    • Nominal groups > collocated groups

  • Fear of evaluation

  • Limited communication channels (blocking)

  • Free riding

Looping freewriting
Looping (freewriting)

  • Write down all your thoughts on a subject

    • generate first, filter later

  • Good for coming up with interesting ideas

  • This is prewriting – do not turn in something like this!

    • stream-of-consciousness not very effective for technical writing

Mind mapping

  • A way of generating ideas and beginning to organize them

    • Start with a topic / important word

    • Write other important words around it

    • Connect related items

    • Repeat

      Group mind-mapping:



  • A sequential summary of the document

  • Can be formal or informal

  • Can outline at multiple levels of detail

    • section-level, paragraph-level, sentence-level

  • Topic 1

    • Item 1

      • detail

      • detail

    • Item 2

  • Topic 2

    • Item 1

Topic 1

1) idea 1

2) idea 2

-- question ?

potential answer

- other idea

Topic 2

Structure and organization
Structure and Organization

  • Intro – Body – Conclusion

  • 5-paragraph essay

  • Others?

  • Structure recurses!

    • Can have intro, body, conclusion at all levels

  • Jump to locations in expository writing

    • Table of Contents

  • Make point first in persuasive writing

    • Or build to a conclusion

  • No one correct structure

Example outlines expository writing
Example Outlines: Expository writing


  • Automatically-generated outline

  • What does this outline tell us about the structure?


Example outlines technical d ocumentation
Example Outlines: Technical Documentation

  • Documentation


  • Tutorials


  • APIs


Example outlines research papers
Example Outlines: Research Papers




Standard Format:

  • Abstract

  • Introduction

  • Related Work

  • Method

  • Results

  • Discussion

  • Future Work

  • Conclusion

  • References

Headings and titles
Headings and Titles

  • Outlines  Section Headings

    • allows for quick navigation

    • helps the reader stay situated

    • breaks up the paper

  • Titles

    • Not always necessary in papers

    • Required for some cases

      • e.g., web site titles

    • Informative and engaging: it’s what people judge your paper by!

      • full-sentence titles

Stress free outlining
Stress-free Outlining

Be comfortable

  • Doesn’t have to be perfect initially

  • Can outline and change things around without committing

    Not a required formal step, but is very helpful

  • Can outline almost anything (emails, etc)

  • Solution for being understood even while nervous

  • Outline can be understood without having to “write”

    • (without worrying about the grammar or style elements)

    • If understandable, then you’ve already solved half the problem

  • Homework for wednesday
    Homework for Wednesday

    • Decide on a system for Assignment 2

      • (can use an example from our in-class brainstorming)

      • non-specific Facebook is off limits

    • Bring in a clean outline (hard copy) for peer editing

      • should outline at least to the paragraph level

      • does not need to be formal, but should be readable

    • Remember to check the assignment instructions!


    Peer editing
    Peer Editing

    • Practice editing papers and responding to others’ writing

    • Multiple eyes catch multiple problems

    • Get comfortable sharing work with others

    Giving good feedback
    Giving Good Feedback

    • First rule: be honest and kind

      • “looks okay” doesn’t help anyone

      • If you react to a paper or something feels wrong, point it out

    • Mutual Respect

      • Constructive criticism about the text, not the author

      • Be pleasant, helpful, and professional

    • Also give feedback on writing strengths!

    Giving good feedback1
    Giving Good Feedback

    • Pretend you are the target reader

      • e.g.: you are the hiring manager; you are a new system user; etc.

      • Don’t rely on your own knowledge or context!

    • Give suggestions for fixes and improvements

      • Try and figure out WHY something this wrong

    • Don’t just look for grammar – editing != proofreading

      • Also check organization, argument effectiveness, etc.

    • Editing tips apply

      • read aloud, look things up, etc

    Using peer editing
    Using Peer Editing

    • Pay attention to the feedback from others!

    • No one (not even Joel or Dmitri) will catch everything

      • edit and edit again; iterate and iterate again

    Peer editing resumes and cover letters
    Peer-Editing: Resumes and Cover Letters

    • Exchange and edit Resumes/Cover Letters

      • Use worksheet as a guide

    • Exchange with at least two (2) classmates

      • Can also ask Joel or Dmitri to edit, but need two others

    • You will need to turn your edit sheets on Wednesday

      • (you can use the comments for editing before then)


    • Resumes due Tuesday Midnight to EEE Dropbox

      • (EEE so you can read my comments!)

      • Bring your editing sheets to class on Wednesday to turn in

    • Wednesday: bring complete outline for Assignment 2 for peer-editing

      • hard copy so we can see what edits have been made to it.