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FREEWRITING • Write quickly. • Don’t edit as you go; just put down the words as fast as you can. • If you get stuck, just write “I’m stuck, I’m stuck…” until you think of something.
PURPOSE: What do you want the reader to know, do, or feel as a result of reading your text? Are you informing, evaluating, persuading, or entertaining? AUDIENCE: Who are your readers? What is their approximate age/ interest and knowledge level/ educational level in your subject? Are they experts, “general public,” your peers or fellow students? CLARIFYING GOALS
THESIS SENTENCES FOR REVISION • Which of the following thesis sentences are effective? Ineffective? • Explain what is wrong with each of the ineffective theses and revise them. • Assume an essay of 500 words and an audience of generally educated adults whom you do not know personally.
SAMPLE THESIS #1 ORIGINAL: George Washington was the first president of the United States. REVISED: As the first president of the United States, George Washington had to resist those who wanted to turn him into a king. • The original sentence is a statement of fact, something accepted as true rather than a worthwhile assertion.
SAMPLE THESIS #2 ORIGINAL: Student government at my university is worthless. REVISED: Student government at my university has no money, no power, and no mandate. • The original sentence is unrestricted, with a vague predicate. It sounds like what will follow will be an emotional tirade rather than sound reason.
SAMPLE THESIS #3 ORIGINAL: Many colleges exploit their athletes, using them as revenue-producing machines, ignoring their needs as students and failing to regard bright students who do not happen to be athletes. REVISED: Many colleges exploit their athletes, using them as revenue-producing machines while ignoring their needs as students. • The original sentence lacks unity, containing at least three ideas not clearly related.
SAMPLE THESIS #4 ORIGINAL: Strawberry cheesecake is the best kind. REVISED: No longer must the cheesecake worshipper settle for plain cheesecake: he or she can find everything from the delightful (strawberry) to the exotic (kumquat). • The original sentence is unworkable because a simple preference cannot be proven, only asserted. The revised sentence reflects a change to the informative process.
SAMPLE THESIS #5 ORIGINAL: Shakespeare was a great writer. REVISED: In Julius Caesar, we see one dimension of Shakespeare’s greatness: he offers something for everyone, from the bawdy puns of the opening scene, to the comparison of different styles of leadership that informs the whole play. • The original sentence is unrestricted and obvious.
SAMPLE THESIS #6 ORIGINAL: I just moved to Oregon. REVISED: Moving from Boston to Oregon still means moving from the Old World to the New. • The original sentence was a simple statement of fact, of little interest to readers who do not know the writer personally.
THE INFORMAL OUTLINE • Used for planning. • More sophisticated than lists, idea trees, or notes. • Shows subordination of ideas as well as sequence of ideas. • Helps develop a writing strategy. • Aids identification of main ideas. • Allows for grouping of ideas/ evidence. • Links subordinate minor points to major ideas. • Allows you to experiment with the order in which ideas will appear.
THE INFORMAL OUTLINE • May be all that is needed to get started. • Valuable tool for timed writing, such as exams, as well as for writing with a deadline. • Can take any shape the writer finds useful. • Useful in revision. • Checks organization of what has been written. • May reveal flaws and show what needs to be revised, such as repetition, gaps, digressions, and problems of sequence or coherence.
THE FORMAL OUTLINE • Often produced for others. • Rules for the formal outline: • Use consistent numbers for headings and subheadings. • Follow either topic, sentence, or paragraph style throughout the outline. • Use parallel structure. • Avoid vague headings such as “Introduction,” “Body,” and “Conclusion.” • Make sure to state your thesis at the top of the outline.
OUTLINE FORMAT THESIS STATEMENT I. First main idea A. First subordinate idea 1. First reason or example 2. Second reason or example B. Second subordinate idea II. Second main idea
Ballet was one of the favorite subjects of French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917). In this painting he shows several dancers limbering up before a performance. Prepare to use the four process steps to write about the painting: Planning and Shaping Drafting Revising Editing DANCERS IN THE FOYER: WRITING AS PROCESS EXERCISE
Planning for and shaping a piece of writing are also a kind of “limbering up” in preparation for a polished “performance.” Look at the whole picture. How are the individual figures related to each other? To the setting? Which details suggest informality? In contrast, which details give a formal feel? Drawing on details from Degas’ painting, freewrite for 10 minutes about how preparing to write resembles preparing for the ballet. Make sure to include differences a well as similarities. PLANNING AND SHAPING
DRAFTING • Reread your freewriting. • Underline the most interesting/important sentence you find. • Using this sentence as your topic sentence, draft a paragraph. • Add details and new material to develop your idea.
REVISING • DETAIL: How have the details you mentioned helped create the central impression of the painting? • ORGANIZATION: Is your paragraph organized? Is it coherent? Does it support your core sentence? • WORD CHOICE: Are your words precise? Replace any vague words with more precise ones.
EDITING • Review your paragraph for correctness of sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. • Make any necessary changes.