Ad Lib Questions

No matter what my plans, in my best interviews, I never follow them completely. Good interviews move around considerably, include digressions (often loaded with information that circles back and becomes useful), and are refreshingly predictable. So I also plan for both new and follow-up questions as part of my interview. By planning to ad lib I'm not tied to my script and can follow a new lead wherever it seems most fruitful What exactly do you mean by that Could you expand on that just a bit...

An Argumentative Thesis

As noted in the last chapter, a good thesis helps both writer and reader. Your thesis is the stand you take on an issue, the proposition you believe, and what you want your readers to believe too. To make the idea of a thesis less intimidating, think of it as an answer to a yes no question Should farming be banned on the shores of Lake Champlain Should the city rescind the tenants bill of rights Should the college fund a women's center on campus Phrasing a thesis in yes no terms helps in two...

Asking and Answering Questions

A colleague of mine teaches chemistry to classes of two hundred students. Because this large class doesn't easily allow students to raise their hands to ask questions, the instructor has asked the students to write out their questions during the lecture and deposit them in a cardboard box labeled QUESTIONS that sits just inside the doorway to the classroom. At the beginning of the next class period, the instructor answers selected questions before moving on to new material. A few of the...

Belief

The narrative writing that works best for me portrays a chunk of experience and makes me believe that this really happened, this is true. However, being honest as a writer and creating belief for the reader may be slightly different. Many writers of personal narrative believe that they must stick only to precisely remembered, detailed fact. (I can't include that detail because I'm not sure of exactly what I said, and I don't remember what I was wearing) Keep in mind, however, that writing a...

Book Reviews

Book reviews are a likely academic assignment in a variety of subjects. In writing a review, there are some things to keep in mind 1. Provide all necessary factual information about the subject being reviewed, for example, book title, author, date, publisher, and price. Do this early in your review, in your first paragraph or as an inset before your first paragraph. 2. Provide background information, if you can, about the writer and his or her previously published books. 3. Follow a clear...

Describing

To describe v. to give a verbal account to transmit a mental image or impression with words. To describe a person, place, or thing is to create a verbal image so that readers can see what you see, hear what you hear, and taste, smell, and feel what you taste, smell, and feel. Your goal is to make it real enough for readers to experience it for themselves. Above all, descriptive details need to be purposeful. Heed the advice of Russian writer Anton Chekhov If a gun is hanging on the wall in the...

Guidelines For Publishing Class Books And Web Pages

Publishing a class book is a natural end to a writing class. A class book is an edited, bound collection of student writing, usually featuring some work from each student in the class. Compiling and editing such a book is commonly assigned to class volunteers, who are given significant authority in designing and producing the book. It is a good idea for these editors to discuss book guidelines with the whole class so that consensus guidelines emerge. Editor duties usually include the following...

Guidelines For Punctuation

Listed below are general explanations for punctuation. I have included the most common uses for the punctuation marks described. If you know the uses described here, you will be in good shape as a writer. However, be aware that numerous exceptions to all the punctuation rules also exist exceptions that I have not attempted to cover here. To learn about these, consult the handbook appended to most dictionaries, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, or one of the many writer's handbooks...

Guidelines For Writing Groups

Writing gets better by reading, practice, and response. The first two you can do for yourself by selecting books that stimulate your interest and show you interesting prose styles, and by writing regularly in a journal or on a computer and not settling for drafts that don't please you. But at some point, to get really better, you need to hear other people respond to your words and ideas. If you are using this book in a class, chances are that your teacher confers with you individually about...

Interpreting Texts

To interpret v. to explain the meaning of to expound the significance of to represent or render the meaning of. The term interpretative essay covers a wide range of argumentative assignments that may also be called critical, analytical, or simply argumentative. For discussion purposes, this section will focus on writing aimed at interpreting texts of one kind or another. Interpretative essays argue that a story, poem, essay, or other created work means one thing rather than another. At the same...

Journals Logs Notebooks And Diaries

The informal notebooks that collect your personal thoughts have a long and respected history. Documents like journals, diaries, or notebooks have existed ever since people discovered that writing things down helped people remember them better. For travelers and explorers, the journal was the place to document where they had been and what they had seen. Some of these journals, such as those by William Byrd and William Bradford in the seventeenth century, are especially useful for modern...

Keeping A Journal

9 7 Perhaps this journal will teach me as much about myself as it will about English. You know, I've never kept a journal or such before. I never knew what a pleasure it is to write. It is a type of cleansing almost a washing of the mind a concrete look at the workings of my own head. That is the idea I like most. The journal allows me to watch my thoughts develop yet, at the same time, it allows me a certain degree of hindsight. In this passage, Peter calls journals places to watch his...

Make an Outline and Promise Yourself Not to Stick to It

Outlines are helpful as starters and prompters, but they are harmful if they prevent further growth or new directions in your draft. I don't always use outlines when I write, especially on short projects, trusting instead that I can hold my focus by a combination of private incubation and constant rereading of the text before me. When I do outline, what proves most helpful is the very process of generating the outline in the first place. If it's a good outline, I quickly internalize its main...

Move Back and Forth

While exploration comes first, it also comes second, third, and so on, for as long as you keep working. No matter how carefully considered your first ideas, the act of writing usually generates even better ones, all the way through the writing process, as you think about why you are writing, about what, and for whom. For example, when the purpose for writing is vague, as it may be when someone else makes an assignment, you may write to discover or clarify your purpose. (What is this assignment...

Plan to Plan

If you plan to explore a little before you actually start writing, the odds are that in the long run, your writing will go better, be more directed, purposeful, and efficient. Finding ideas is a back-and-forth process it starts in one place, ends up in another, and goes on all the time so long as you keep writing. This whole messy process can be both wonderful and exhausting. Remember that when you are in the planning stages of any writing task, finding and exploring ideas counts more than...

Relationships

Each of these three uses of language has a distinct function to communicate, to create, and to explore reality, of course, any single piece of writing may have features of the other modes for example, a piece of writing may be primarily informative but also have aesthetic and personal features. Of the three forms, the most consistently useful for you as a student and learner is the exploratory writing you do to think with. In fact, we could say it is the very matrix from which the communicative...

Reporting Research

I found the following format recommended in both biology and psychology for reporting the results of experiments forms similar to it will be used in other social science and hard science areas as well 1. Title a literal description of the topic of your report. 2. Abstract a summary in two hundred fifty words or fewer of the why, how, and what of your report. 3. Introduction a statement of your hypothesis and a review of the relevant literature. 4. Methods and materials information about how you...

Researching

When you write, you need content as well as direction. Unless you are writing completely from memory, you need to locate ideas and information from which to start and, later on, with which to support and convince. Remember, you essentially do research whenever you pose questions and then go looking for answers. It's virtually impossible to write a decent critical, analytical, or argumentative paper without doing some research and reporting it accurately. Even personal and reflective essays can...

Researching People And Places

In 9th grade we had to write research papers to learn them for 10th grade, and in 10th we had to write them for 11th, and then in 12th, again, to learn them for college. So what I keep learning, over and over, is to sit in the library and copy quotes out of books and into my paper and connect them up. What's the deal The hallmark of college writing is learning to write with research. Sometimes you'll be asked to write a research paper or report other times you'll simply be asked to write...

Researching Texts Libraries And Web Sites

My instructor wants me to use at least ten citations from at least five different sources, including books, periodicals, and the Internet. On top of that, she wants me to make the paper interesting. The best writing teaches readers things they didn't already know, conveying knowledge that isn't everyday and commonplace. You are bound to do this when you write from personal experience, as nobody else anywhere has lived your life. However, when you write about topics outside yourself, out there...

Seek a Response to Your Writing

Once you have written a passable draft, one you feel is on the right track but not finished, ask a classmate or friend to read and respond to it. Specify the kind of feedback that would be most helpful. Does the argument hold up throughout the whole paper Do I use too many examples Which ones should I cut Does my conclusion make sense Sometimes, when I am quite pleased with my draft, I simply ask a friend to proofread it for me, not wanting at that point to be told about holes in my argument or...

Start Writing to Start Writing

Write your way to motivation, knowledge, and thesis. No matter what your subject, use language to find out more about it. What do you already know about it What do you believe Why do you care (Or why don't you ) Where could you find more information This writing will help in two ways First, it will cause you to think connected thoughts about the subject for a sustained period of time, a far more powerful, positive, and predictable process than staring at the ceiling or falling asleep worrying...

Starting a Dialogue

If your teacher asks to collect and read your journal, then you have a good chance to initiate some dialogue in writing about things that concern you both. Journals used this way take on many of the qualities of letters, with correspondents keeping in touch through the writing. As a writing teacher, I have learned a great deal about my own teaching from written conversations with my students. Remember Alice, the biology major studying the fern spores in the petri dishes Her professor responded...

Strategies

Two obvious strategies for writing life stories present themselves, one inductive, the other deductive. The inductive method would involve the following activities Make a list of what you would call the important events in your life confirmation, high school graduation, reading a particular book, making a new friend, etc. Tinker with the list until it seems a reasonable representation of your life and then start writing anywhere about any incident and keep writing to see what themes or patterns...

Strategies for Writing Position Papers

There are no set formulas for writing position papers, but there are accepted strategies that work especially well. Think about both thesis-first and delayed-thesis strategies, and decide which is most advantageous for your particular case. Thesis-First Pattern The following is an effective way to organize a thesis-first paper, but keep in mind these are guidelines, not rules 1. Introduce the issue by providing a brief background that defines, describes, and explains it, for example Excessive...

The Composing Process

I start by writing down anything that comes to mind. I write the paper as one big mass, kind of like freewriting. Then I rewrite it into sentences. I keep rewriting it until it finally takes some form. If I have the time before I begin to write (which I usually don't) I make an outline so I have something to follow. An outline kind of gives me a guide to fall back on in case I get stuck. Then I start in the middle because it's easier than trying to figure out where to start. The ending is easy...

The Research Imperative

The need for knowledge is the rule I didn't mention directly, yet this need is an imperative behind every college paper you write. And the primary way of coming to knowledge in the academic community is through research conducting your own investigations of the world and reading the results of what others have found in their investigations. Research papers and papers based on research will be among your most common academic assignments. Authentic research begins with yourself, when you ask...

Thinking With Writing

I usually write when I'm under pressure or really bothered by something. Writing down these thoughts takes them out of my mind and puts them in a concrete form that I can look at. Once on paper, most of my thoughts make more sense & I can be more objective about them. Puts things into their true perspective. Recently, I asked my first-year college students to write about their attitudes toward writing. Did they write often Did they like to write When did...

Using Language

We use language all the time for many reasons. We use it to meet, greet, and persuade people to ask and answer questions to pose and solve problems to argue, explain, explore, and discover to assert, proclaim, profess, and defend to express anger, frustration, doubt, and uncertainty and to find friendship and declare love. In other words, we use language to conduct much of the business and pleasure of daily life. When we think of the uses of language, we think primarily of speaking, not...

Write to Yourself

Forget about publishing your ideas to the world publish them first to yourself. Tell yourself what you're thinking. Write out what's on your mind. Write it down and you'll identify it, understand it, and leave behind a memory of what it was. Any writing task can be accomplished in more than one way, but the greatest gain will occur if you articulate in writing these possibilities. Exploring also involves limiting your options, locating the best strategy for the occasion at hand, and focusing...

Writing for Teachers

When you are a student in high school, college, or graduate school, your most common audiences are the instructors who have requested written assignments and who will read and grade what you produce, an especially tough audience for most students. First, teachers often make writing assignments with the specific intention to measure and grade you on the basis of what you write. Second, teachers often think it their civic duty to correct every language mistake you make, no matter how small....

Writing for Yourself

When you write strictly for yourself, your focus is primarily on your own thoughts and emotions you don't need to follow any guidelines or rules at all, except those that you choose to impose. In shopping lists, journals, diaries, appointment books, class notebooks, text margin notes, and so on, you are your own audience, and you don't need to be especially careful, organized, neat, or correct so long as you understand it yourself. However, keep in mind your own intended purpose here a shopping...

Writing from Experience Checklist

What story have I told Is it primarily about me an event somebody else 2. When I finish reading the story and ask So what does my story provide an answer 3. Have I shown rather than summarized the action and details of this story Can you see where it takes place Can you hear my characters speak 4. Do I make my readers do some interpretive work Or do I provide all the judgments and explanations for them 5. Does my form work What effect would other forms (journal, letter, essay, drama) have on...

Writing In The Academic Community

My writing never says what I mean. I can see the idea in my head, but I can't seem to express it in a way that others understand, so I don't get good grades. Is there some secret I don't know about With great clarity, David expresses his frustration as a writer. In fact, his expression is so clear that I'm tempted not to believe him How could it be that his writing never says what he means However, as a writer myself, I know David's problem. He is honest, and what he says is...

Writing To Explain And Report

Above all else, I want to write so clearly and accurately that others see things exactly the way I do. Explaining is the task of working writers everywhere. To explain is to make some concept, event, or process clear to your reader, to expose or reveal it. (Another name for explanatory writing is expository writing.) In college, you may be asked to explain chemical processes by writing a laboratory report, literary events by writing a book report, political, sociological, or historical events...

Writing To Explore

A third kind of writing is that which you do for yourself, which is not directed at any distant audience, and which may not be meant to make any particular impression at all, neither sharply clear nor cleverly aesthetic. This kind of writing might be called personal, expressive, or exploratory. It helps you think and express yourself on paper. You've written this way if you have kept a diary or journal, jotted notes to yourself or letters to a close friend, or begun a paper with rough drafts...

Writing To Imagine

You also spent some time studying, usually in English class, another kind of highly structured language often called imaginative or creative. Poetry, fiction, drama, essay, and song are the genres usually associated with imaginative language. This kind of language tries to do something different from strictly communicative language something to do with art, beauty, play, emotion, and personal expression something difficult to define or measure, but often easy to recognize. We sometimes know...

Writing to Learn

What all this means in practical terms is simply this When we write to ourselves in our own easy, talky voices, we let the writing help us think and even lead our thinking to places we would not have gone had we never written, but only mulled things over in our heads. Thought written out becomes language you can interact with your own thought objectified on paper or computer screen becomes thought you can manipulate, extend, critique, or edit. Above all, the discipline of doing the writing in...

Writing With Sources

Documenting research papers is easier than sometimes made out. You just answer the question who said what, where, and when. But don't be surprised if English teachers want you to answer it one way and history teachers another but the information you need is exactly the same. Research writing can be only as convincing as the authority which informs it. Remember that every paper you write is an attempt to create belief, to convince your readers that you know what you are talking about, and that...

Guidelines For Writing Portfolios

In simplest terms, a writing portfolio is a folder containing a collection of your writing. A comprehensive portfolio prepared for a writing class usually presents a cumulative record of all of your work over a semester and is commonly used to assign a grade. An alternate form of class portfolio is the story portfolio, which presents selections from your semester's papers described and discussed in narrative form. The most common portfolio assigned in a writing class is the comprehensive or...

Options For Editing

How do you know when your writing is done Me, I'm never sure when it's done, when it's good enough. I mean, if it says basically what I want it to say, who cares how pretty it is I agree with Tom that writing need not be pretty, but I wouldn't be satisfied with writing that says basically what I want it to say. I want my writing to say exactly what I want it to say which is where editing comes in. Editing is finishing. Editing is making a text convey precisely what you intend in the clearest...

Toby Fulwiler

A subsidiary of Reed Elsevier Inc. 361 Hanover Street Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912 www.boyntoncook.com Offices and agents throughout the world 1988, 1991, 1997, 2002 by Toby Fulwiler 1988 edition first published by Scott, Foresman and Company under the title College Writing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a...

Options For Revision

This class has finally taught me that rewriting isn't just about correcting and proofreading, but about expanding my ideas, trying experiments, and taking risks. Why did it take me so long to learn this And why don't I do it on all my papers Yes, Rachel, rewriting is about expanding ideas, trying experiments, and taking risks. It's also chancy, unpredictable, laborious, frustrating and impossible to do if you don't make time for it. But in every way, it makes your writing better. There are no...

Writing To Remember

Writing about your personal experience is risky. You invite readers in, show them your life, and hope that they'll like what they find. Or, if they don't, that they'll at least tell you so gently. In the journal entry here, Jody describes this fear quite well. Later she came to talk to me about her paper. I hope she went away from our talk feeling relieved, not to mention alive. Figuratively, at least, writers find ideas to write about in one of two places inside or outside. The inside ideas...

Reflective Essays

Reflect v. 1 to bend or fold back to make manifest or apparent 2 to think quietly or calmly to express a thought or opinion resulting from reflection. Reflective writing is thoughtful writing. Reflective essays take a topic any topic and turn it around, up and down, forward and backward, asking us to think about it in uncommon ways. Reflective writing allows both writer and reader to consider but especially reconsider things thoughtfully, seriously, meditatively but demands neither resolution...

Finding Your Voice

If you feel that you can never write as well as John Steinbeck or Charles Dickens . . . you may be right. But you can write well if you find a voice that rings true to you and you can learn to record the surprises of the world faithfully. Early in this book, we looked at the several purposes that cause people to write in the first place to learn something better, to question, to share, and to present. Later, we looked at the audiences for whom writers write, including teachers, friends, the...

Writing Alternate Style

Why is academic writing so cut and dried, so dull Why can't it be more fun to read and write Contemporary nonfiction writing is not dull. At least, it doesn't have to be, as the pages of The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and even Sports Illustrated will attest. Read these and dozens of other current periodicals, and you'll see a variety of lively, entertaining, and informative prose styles. While the modern revolution in creative nonfiction sometimes called literary journalism has been slow to...

Reflection On The Necessity Of Thesis Statements

An informational or argumentative thesis states the theme or central idea of your paper, usually in the first paragraph or page, alerting the reader to both the subject of your paper and what you intend to say about that subject. In explanatory and informational papers, a thesis stated early makes good sense because it tells the reader the nature of the explanation to follow. In this chapter the subject is defined and explained in the first paragraph. In argumentative and interpretative papers,...

Strategies for Writing Reflective Essays

Your subject alone will carry interest just so far the rest is up to your originality, creativity, and skill as you present the topic of your essay, along with the deeper and more speculative meaning you have found. Pause Include pauses in your writing and make your reader pause with you. Once you've established your nominal subject, say to the reader, in effect, Wait a minute, there's something else going on here stop and consider, The pause is a key...

Language Autobiography

A language autobiography tells the story of how you came to be the language user you are today it focuses on those influences you perceive as most important, the ones that shape how you read, write, speak, and think. The following list offers some suggestions for constructing a language autobiography. Write about family, friends, and teachers who taught you things about language first words, code words, critical words. When possible, locate artifacts such as letters, diaries, and stories you...

Documenting Research Sources

I liked writing this paper more than any other paper I've ever done. I think it was because we worked as a team when we toured the factory and later, when we wrote each of the three different drafts of this paper. Everybody pitched in, nobody slacked, we had a really good time, and we even learned how to make ice cream Each subject area in the curriculum has developed its own system for documenting sources in research-based papers. Each system does essentially the same thing, yet the...

Guidelines For Keeping A Journal

I usually do my journal writing with pen and ink in lined paper notebooks. In fact, I keep several different journals, each in a different notebook my personal professional journal in a small 7 X 10 leather loose leaf my teaching journal in an equally small cardboard loose leaf my travel journal in an even smaller 5 X 7 spiral bound carried in a tank bag on cross-country motorcycle trips . I always have the personal journal with me, in my book bag, to catch thoughts related to my everyday life...