Prewriting StrategiesDeveloping Ideas Through Prewriting
Discovering and developing a topic for writing can be challenging.
There are a number of techniques writers use to create ideas.
Don't confuse prewriting with writing a first draft.
At this stage you are simply exploring ideas, looking for
topics, discovering needed details, identifying subjects that
need further research.
- Consider What You Have Thought About Recently
What ideas or opinions do you have on current events? Has
a recent experience given you insight into yourself or seemed
symbolic of larger issues?
- List Ideas About A Topic
List as many ideas as you can. At this point don't
attempt to organize or edit ideas -- list as many as possible.
Later you can eliminate minor or repetitive ideas and draw
connections between related items.
- Ask Questions
Journalists develop stories by asking the basic Five W's
-- who? what? where? when? why? You can explore
and deepen your understanding by asking questions about
a subject: Why are soap operas popular? Who
benefits from cyberspace? What caused the team
to win or lose? When will race relations change?
Where is the best place to buy a computer?
- Use Freewriting
Sometimes you can use writing as a way of directing your
thinking. Freewriting is not a rough draft of a paper, but
writing that directs or stimulates your thinking. Like doodling,
freewriting is a means of discovery. Many writers will sit
down and write non-stop, filling a page or a computer screen
with ideas without stopping. Let the ideas flow and later
look at what you produced. You may discover a single word
or phrase in a jumble of ideas that focus your thinking
about a subject.
- Cluster Ideas
If you are more visually oriented, you can develop writing
ideas by drawing, sketching out ideas in a tree-like fashion
or by using circles or squares. Use underlining to emphasize
ideas and draw arrows to show connections. Clustering is
useful to organize comparisons and classifications. You
can use clustering -- or drawing -- to arrange ideas and
rank points by importance. Cross-out unrelated or minor
ideas and reshape your diagram into an outline to guide
your first draft.
- Talk To Other Students Or Friends
Sometimes you can feel lost or overwhelmed by a writing
assignment. Just as a friend can sometimes enter a room
and instantly spot the car keys you have have spent an hour
searching for, someone else can give you a fresh perspective
on your topic.
- Explore Cyberspace
Plug a key word or phrase into a search engine and see what
web pages the browser pulls up. Scan these to learn more
about your subject or develop a new angle on your topic.
Trolling the internet can be fascinating -- don't
lose track of time. Limit your explorations.
Start a chat room on your subject. Pose questions to
gather some random comments or critiques of your ideas.
The anonymity of the internet may generate more honest
comments than those by friends.
- Experiment With A Variety Of Techniques
As you write in this course try different methods of discovering
and developing ideas until you create your own style.
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Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark