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The Writing Process

The Writing Process includes prewriting, organizing, revising, editing, and proofreading. Following these steps generally helps students to write better essays. First, the prewriting or brainstorming stage helps students discover ideas for their essays. Secondly, organizing helps put those ideas into a structure. Then, students write the essay and revise in order to make sure all parts of the essay actually fit together. Editing and proofreading help students catch grammatical errors as well as errors in meaning. This website section is divided into the parts of the writing process with added segments on thesis statements, introductions, conclusions, and types of writing. Each segment contains information and helpful links for students. Also, students may come to the Writing Lab Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:30 for individual help.

Prewriting

As you explore topics for assigned compositions, refer to and completely understand directions given by your professor or instructor so that your writing choice satisfies requirements. Explore ideas that appeal best to your tastes and/or understanding because this will lead to deeper involvement, and this involvement will have a positive influence on your writing.

You can find out more about getting ideas for your writing by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Thesis Statements

The thesis of a composition is the central idea on which all material in the paper is concentrated. A thesis is a claim that is somehow arguable, especially in the case of Composition I assignments in which you attempt to convince readers to agree with your position. Analytical or interpretive theses for Composition II or literature courses are argumentative in the sense that you must prove, by using supporting evidence, that conclusions or inferences you have drawn are logical. A thesis can also be used to simply inform readers; for instance, the idea for a microbiology paper might be to show ways to slow the spread of pathogens. Whether its purpose is to convince, to analyze, or to inform, the thesis should be focused enough to be thoroughly addressed in the length of your paper.

You can find out more about developing a thesis by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Organization

After you gather information for your writing assignment, you need to next organize ideas and begin mapping out your draft. Try to determine the major topics that support the thesis, the subtopics that address each major topic, and points of evidence. Ask yourself how concepts interrelate to discover a logical hierarchy. You might use informal or formal outlines, concept maps, diagrams, or other ordering devices to arrange ideas into a plan for the paper.

You can find out more about planning and organizing ideas by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Revising

After you complete the first draft of your essay, you will need to revise it. When revising, you want to make sure all paragraphs directly reflect your thesis. Also, you want to make sure all the details in each paragraph reflect that paragraph's topic sentence. You'll want all the parts of the paper to flow and fit together well; all of these various aspects deal with unity and coherence.

You can find out more about revising by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Editing

Once you have revised your essay, you will want to edit it. Editing deals with revising errors such as comma problems, punctuation problems, complete sentences, pronoun/ antecedent agreement, sentence length, and sentence structure. Consequently, you can also find editing help at the Grammar and Punctuation and Mechanics sections of the website. The following links are intended to give editing tips and information.

You can find out more about editing by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Proofreading

Proofreading is often grouped with editing and is the last stage of the writing process. Proofreading deals with finding errors you may have overlooked in the editing stage, such as typos, misspelled words, wrong words, comma errors, punctuation errors, and format errors. Consequently, you can also find proofreading help at the Grammar and Punctuation and Mechanics sections of the website. The following information and links are intending to give you hints and tips to effectively proofread your essay.

Proofreading enables you to critically evaluate papers and make corrections accordingly. You should never entrust or expect anyone else to do this for you. Proofreading is a skill that requires individual practice and will lead to your becoming a more proficient writer.

Tips for proofreading:

  • Proofread a printed copy. You can usually locate errors on a paper copy more easily than you are able to see the same errors on a computer screen.
  • Let the draft "cool" between readings. Even a short break may allow your mind to feel refreshed and enable you to see your writing more clearly.
  • Read your paper aloud. We read aloud at about one-half the speed at which we read silently. You are more likely to spot errors as you decrease reading rate.
  • Read out of context. Beginning with the last sentence in the essay, analyze the sentence and make necessary corrections. Continue analyzing and editing as you work backwards, one sentence at a time, until you reach the beginning of the paper.
  • Anticipate reader response and edit accordingly. Try to imagine what readers might think when they examine your paper.
  • Have others read and offer feedback. Reader reaction can often prompt you to think about your writing from other points of view or allow you to gauge how well your essay conveys ideas. The Writing Lab's tutors, serving as typical readers, can offer feedback to help you gain insight into your composition.
  • Compare your writing against the instructor's assignment sheet directions or class notes. Ignoring a single instruction can sometimes result in a greatly decreased grade for the essay.
  • Look carefully at your instructor's comments on returned papers. Try to avoid making the same errors again. If you are uncertain about how to address an error, confer with your instructor or visit the Writing Lab for advice. Composition course syllabi state, "Progress is a principal objective; therefore, repeated errors and deficiencies become significant in the evaluation of the student's writing."
  • Do not assume that suggestions of other individuals, including tutors, or flags by automated grammar or spelling checkers are right. They are intended to simply cause you to focus on elements of your paper to determine whether corrections are really needed. You ought to decide to edit only after consulting with your instructor, a handbook, a textbook, the assignment sheet for the activity, and/or other authorities.
  • You can find out more about proofreading by clicking below on the links. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring.

Introductions and Conclusions

Introductions and conclusions for any type of writing assignment can be difficult. Often, students are not sure what exactly to write in their introductions and conclusions. This section is designed to help students understand the purpose and elements of introductory and conclusion paragraphs.

You can find out more about introductions and conclusions by clicking below on the links. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Types of Essays

Different classes and assignments call for different types of writing. This section discusses argumentative and research papers, as well as writing about literature. You can find out more about these topics by clicking on the links below. These links to interactive web sites are particularly beneficial for online, evening, and off-campus students who are unable to participate in face-to-face tutoring. You may also come to the writing lab to use print materials and seek additional help from the tutoring staff.

Argumentative Essays

  • An argumentative essay focuses on a thesis that is clearly debatable. Possibilities exist for other individuals to disagree with the position you take or the claim you make; in fact, good argument acknowledges opposing points of view. Generally, the introduction begins with a "grabber" or attention-getting statement, followed by sentences that lead to the thesis or central idea of the paper. For shorter essays, such as the ones written for composition courses, the thesis is typically the last sentence in the introductory paragraph. Each succeeding supporting paragraph focuses on one topic that supports the thesis. Evidence to support the paragraph's topic might include facts, examples, statistics, or other proof. The conclusion echoes the thesis and briefly summarizes the case in a final defense of your position or claim. As you write argumentative compositions, remember how Aristotle's three persuasive approaches (ethos, pathos, and logos) can influence the strength of your debate.
  • The Little, Brown Handbook 12th ed. Companion Website
  • The Writer's Web

Research Essays

Following good research techniques enables you to effectively gather and present scholarly information. Research writing might require you to conduct primary research in which you are a firsthand observer. For instance, you could be asked to interview someone already working in your field of study or to observe an event and write your discoveries. More frequently, you carry out secondary research to find out what other writers have published about your subject. Occasionally, you might combine these types of research as you address a topic.

Writing about Literature

  • Analysis of a literary selection is not a simple retelling or summarization of the work. Analyzing requires you to examine a piece of literature to discover how elements within the selection support an idea based on your interpretation of the piece. Analysis is argumentative in the sense that you must prove, by using supporting evidence, that conclusions you have drawn are logical. Unlike the sort of argument that characterizes many Composition I assignments, literary criticism generally does not require that you attempt to convince the reader you are right, but only that your interpretation makes sense. The reader does not usually need to know every event in a story to see how the selection supports your thesis. For more information about the process of a literary analysis, see WSCC's Virtual Campus.
  • Inclusion of quotes is a frequent requirement for Composition II and literature papers. Be sure to properly introduce and cite quoted material that illustrates your ideas. Use signal phrases to let readers know about the source of the information and/or to foreshadow the content of the quotation. Interpret quotes immediately before or after they appear and show how they are important to paragraph topics. Consider both literal and figurative interpretations.
  • The Little, Brown Handbook 12th ed. Companion Website
  • The Writer's Web
  • Purdue OWL
  • Norton / Write
  • Little Seagull Handbook, 2nd ed. Companion Website