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Writing Techniques Presented by:RIT Academic Support Center
Thought-provoking Questions • How many of these questions can you answer: • What types of writing have you done in the past and do you expect to do in the future? • What are the six characteristics of good writing?Hint: What makes you think, “This is great writing!” (instead of the opposite)? • Why do we need to know about our audiences?
Thought-provoking Questions • How many of these questions can you answer: • How do we incorporate structure words and trigger words? • What do you know about technical writing? 3
Types of Writing • Examples of types of writing include: • Narrating • Evaluating • Analyzing • Arguing/Persuading • Responding • Summarizing • Examining/Investigating • Observing • Technical
Strategies for Getting Started Once you have your thesis statement: • Brainstorm (what’s your process?) • Record any ideas related to your thesis • Reread and evaluate the ideas • Create an outline (what’s your process?) • Consider the characteristics of good writing
Characteristics of Good Writing Characteristics of good writing include: • Organization • Voice • Word Choice • Sentence Fluency • Conventions • Presentations
Characteristics: Organization Organization • Organization is the internal structure of writing and how the pattern of how ideas are organized. • When the organization is strong, the idea flows smoothly. • What techniques do you use and what techniques do you identify in good writing? 7
Characteristics: Voice Voice • Voice is the writer speaking to the reader in a way that is unique to each writer. • Writers give their writing a personal flavor and attitude. • How does this vary depending on the type of writing you are creating? 8
Characteristics: Word Choice Word Choice • Word Choice is using rich and concise words. • Careful word choices clarify and expand ideas, such as strong verbs and specific nouns. • Give example of strong verbs and specific nouns? What are qualifiers, and do they have a place in writing? 9
Characteristics: Sentence Fluency Sentence Fluency • Sentence Fluency is the rhythm and flow of the language. • Writing should sound smooth and be easy to read aloud. • Sentences should vary in length and style. • What are the advantages to the reader? 10
Characteristics: Conventions Conventions • Conventions are the mechanics of writing such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar. • Writing that has been proofread and edited is strong. • Describe your techniques for proofreading your writing. 11
Characteristics: Presentation Presentation • Presentation refers to how the writing looks on the page. • The visual elements of font and size of print, how the writing is arranged on the paper (or screen), the use of graphics and charts. • Good writers are aware of the impact the appearance of their writing has on readers. • What is the impact on the reader? 12
Check Your Understanding • Using the characteristics we just discussed, how can you improve this passage? • And so, these are my five ideas about technological change, that we first always pay a very good price for technology; the greater the technology, the grater the price; second, that there are always winners and loosers, and that the winners always try to talk the the losers into believing that they are really winners; third that there is embedded in every technology an epistemological, political, or social prejudice. 13
Questions: Audience • Regarding the audience for your writing: • What is the value of knowing about them? • What should you know about them? 14
Audience • Regarding your audience, ask yourself: • Who are they? • Why are they interested? • What do they already know about your topic? • What do they need/want to know about your topic?
Audience (cont.) • Regarding your audience: • How can you use your audience’s background and experiences to your advantage? • What is your call to action – what do you want your audience to do? 16
Helpful Resource (Reminder) One of many helpful resources on the writing process is: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/673/01/
Structure Words Part of word choice is structure words and trigger words. If you are making points: • Point it out, “The four reasons why . . .” • First, second, third, and finally • A second proposal under consideration would add high-tech features to the Social Security card allowing employers to scan it with specially equipped laptop computers.
Structure Words (cont.) • If you are about to support with examples: • for example • to illustrate • for instance • because • For example, computer software engineers who are employed by software vendors and consulting firms spend much of their time away from their offices. 19
Structure Words (cont.) If you are bringing up something important: • surely, truly, clearly • indeed, in fact, most important • In fact, the expanding growth in electronic commerce has resulted in a rising demand for engineers who can develop Internet, intranet, and World Wide Web applications. 20
Structure Words (cont.) • If you want to signal a conclusion: • consequently • therefore • In summary • In summary, we interpret the evidence as suggesting that direct computer skills command a substantial premium in the labor market, especially in conjunction with a college degree. 21
Trigger Words If you are contradicting what was said in the first part of the sentence: • but, on the contrary, yet • despite, rather, instead • however, although • while, in spite of, nevertheless • Neither bill specifies what the biometric would be, but it could range from a simple digital photo to a fingerprint or even an iris scan. 22
Trigger Words (cont.) If you are introducing a view you will eventually decide against: • admittedly, certainly, obviously • undoubtedly, one cannot deny that • true, granted, of course • to be sure, it could be argued that • Obviously, every small business isn’t going to have a biometric card reader, but perhaps the post office might have a reader since every community in America has a post office. 23
Check Your Understanding • These excerpts are from the Annual Edition of Computers in Society 08/09. Select one and refer to the next screen: • “Workplace monitoring has existed for a long time in one form or another and will undoubtedly continue to proliferate and become increasingly sophisticated as technology advances.” • “Wireless really gives you the opportunity on a relatively low-cost basis to put technology into neighborhoods that could never afford it before.” 24
Check Your Understanding (cont.) • Work in small groups to create follow-up sentences to your selected excerpt, including: • Structure words that: • make points • support with examples • bring up something important • signal a conclusion • Trigger words that: • contradict what was said in the first part of sentence • introduces a view you will decide against 25
Discussion: What do you know about technical writing? • What do technical writers do? • What do they produce? • What skills do they require?
Technical Writing: Definition • A technical writer, or technical communicator, designs, writes, edits, and produces documents for scientific, technical, industrial, and government organizations. 27
Technical Writing: Products • A technical writer creates: • technical reports • specifications • reference manuals (e.g., installation materials) • operating instructions (e.g., user documentation) • policies and procedures • proposals • presentations • brochures • Web pages 28
Technical Writing: Qualifications • A technical writer has: • ability to communicate scientific and technical information to other people using easily understandable language • strong language skills • a college degree in English, journalism, or communication is preferred • familiarity with scientific or technical topics • experience using word processing and desktop publishing software, graphics programs, and Web publishing tools 29
Technical Writing: Skills • A technical writer needs the following skills: • writing • technical (varied, depending on the project and industry) • tools (e.g., Adobe FrameMaker, MS Word, MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, and even PageMaker and Quark – depending on what the organization uses to produce its technical documentation) 30
Technical Writing: Skills (cont.) • A technical writer needs the following skills: • interviewing and listening (what do you know about subject matter experts?) • design • usability and testing (when is it apparent that this step has been skipped?) 31
Check Your Understanding • What types of writing have you done in the past and do you expect to do in the future? • What are the six characteristics of good writing?Hint: What makes you think, “This is great writing!” (instead of the opposite)? • Why do we need to know about our audiences? • How do we incorporate structure words and trigger words? • What do you know about technical writing?
Resources • Contents adapted from the following websites (which are excellent resources for further study): • http://fvwp.uwosh.edu/writings/2005writings/jenniferheidl-knoblochjodydrakepro.ppt • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl • http://www.dotnet.com/~rblock2/six_traits.htm • http://www.answers.com/topic/technical-writer • Annual Editions Computers in Society 08/09, Boston: McGraw Hill.