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Advanced English Writing (year 20122013)
II. Writing process and prewriting strategies

? Objectives:to learn how to get started in a writing process; ? Time Allotment: 60 min class discussion and 30 min practice; ? Major points:writing process;writing situation; narrow your focus; prewriting strategies; ? Difficult points: prewriting strategies; ? Assignment: reading assignment; practice the prewriting strategies with your project topic;

Objectives and difficult points

1. Stages of writing a whole composition

It is not possible to think about everything
all at once, and most experienced writers suggest we handle a piece of writing in stages. Roughly, those stages are:

understand the writing situation narrow the focus prewriting activity

drafting revising editing

final draft

? Page 2 of CW ? Page 4 of CW

2. Understanding the writing situation Begin by taking a look at the writing situation in which you situate yourself. Questions in the following checklist may help you get started.

? Subject

1> Broadness of your subject? 2> How many details? Length? Time? Paragraphs?

3> Sources of information?
First-hand or second-hand: Personal experience?

Direct observation? Interviews? Questionnaires?

? Purpose

4) Why are you writing? To inform?

To entertain?
To explain? To argue?

? Audience
5> Who are the readers? 6> How much do they already know about my subject? 7> How interested are they likely to be? 8> Will they buy or attack any of my ideas? 9> How close a relationship with them can I assume? 10> What are their ethnic, religious, educational or even political background?

? length and genre (1) Any length limitation? How many words for the given topic ? (2) Any special genre required? Essay? Lab report? Case study? Term paper? Letter? Resume? (3) Other necessary aid such as headings, lists, charts,graphs, and diagrams?

3. Narrow your focus When writing a paragraph or an essay, we require it to focus on one or several aspect of the given topic. The chart below shows how to narrow

down a topic in a series of steps. How?






teaching number concepts

teaching number concepts to children

teaching number concepts at home to children under 5

child behaviour

how children play together

how girls play together

patterns of play among four-and five-year-olds


talking with a friend

talking with an Indian friend

talking with an Indian friend about customs in China

driving test driving

training for a driving test

training for a driving test this summer holiday

To narrow the topic, we can add more modifier

(such as when, where, to what extent) or try to
search the hyponym (下义词) of the key word. Then

start gathering notes.

? Page 5 of CW

4. Prewriting strategies What do you usually do before you start your writing task?

It is suggested that you experiment with one or more techniques for exploring your subject and generate ideas. These techniques are called prewriting strategies. They may help you limit a topic as well as uncover possible ideas. Remember prewriting aims for quantity, not for quality of ideas. Also ignore grammar and punctuation or other formal matters.

Prewriting strategies: 1> Branching/ A Subject Tree

2> Listing
3> Free Writing/ Free Association 4> Brainstorming 5> Reporter’s Formula

1>Mapping/Branching/ A Subject Tree Write your topic in the center.

Cluster branching thoughts to the center and move from one level of ideas to another. Repeat the above steps.
Any one branch can serve as a starting point for further branching.

learning values deprived of love effects on the quality of family life time for communication effects on self-image effects on children working mothers

summer camp counselor packer at lifeguard supermarket

psychological studies of women workers how?



prejudice against women workers

my own experience on three different jobs

my mother, aunt, cousin as career women

my own experience on three different jobs

my mother, aunt, cousin as career women

psychological advantages of work

women executives

Topic: Women in the work force

2> Listing Begin by listing ideas, and put them down in

the order in which they occur to you.

Topic: My first part-time job ? my wish to have a part-time job ? hired by Powdermill village, an apartment complex ? the test, interview ? two weeks of training- manual work plus book work ?greeted by manager, handed a groom, hose, bottle of disinfectant on the first day

? scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning the pool, clearing the deck of dirt and leaves
? little kids breaking every pool rule in the book- running on the deck, hanging on buoyed ropes, trying to drown each other ? spent most of my time blowing the whistle ? by the end of the day, a headache and ache of all joints in my body.

3> Free Writing or Free Association

Free writing means writing like crazy. Write down
everything popping up in your head. Follow the train of thought and ignore grammar, structure or handwriting.

Even if you have nothing to write, you may just write like “I have nothing to write. Nothing. Still nothing....,” until something comes to your mind.

Sample Freewriting Topic: Pocket Money for Primary School Pupils Obviously, who wouldn’t want some pocket money? Once in a while you might have shown off the nickels and dimes that jingled in your pockets to the boys and girls you knew when you were a kid. Those little pennies might have given you power to make the teacher’s favorite pupil do the homework for you or to steal a kiss or two from the ones you liked in school. Pocket money was, and still is, power, and we are talking dollars nowadays rather than pennies back then.

Pocket money may breed bad habits such as smoking, drinking, or even gambling. Under peer pressure, the kids may be more money or material oriented, and if the boy in the next row wears a Crocodile T-shirt, they try to catch up and beat him in any way possible. But in handling their pocket money, the kids can have a taste of adult life in budgeting their spending. Perhaps, they learn to plan weekly how much to spend on cartoon books, snacks, and stationery. They can also learn to save some of the money.

To be thrifty. When they have saved enough money, they may donate it all to a noble cause. Like buying books for the school drop-outs or food for the needy in the poverty-stricken areas. Maybe, the thing that makes the kids proudest is when they buy, with their own pocket money, a rose bouquet for mom or a necktie for dad on their birthdays. It certainly fosters a closer relationship with the parents. However, pocket money may distract the kids from their study.

While they are doing homework or in the middle of a class, they can’t concentrate because they can’t wait to play the games in the arcade again that they had so much fun with the day before. Maybe the worst thing about pocket money is that the kids tend to be too dependent on their parents for everything. They think all they have to do is to to ask, and everything will be taken care of.

I think the parents should make their kids earn their

pocket money by asking them to do some house
every day. Let’s say, mopping the floor or taking the

garbage out or anything else of this kind. This way,
the kids may try to stretch every penny of their hard-

earned money.

4> Brainstorming (as a specific prewriting skill here)

Brainstorming is similar to free writing; however, free writing is conducted by individuals and brainstorming involves group work. It goes like this:

Form a group of three or more. Ask one member to
write down everything in the coming discussion. Discuss the given topic for about ten to fifteen minutes. Examine the notes and pick out those useful information to yourself. This warm-up over,

you may begin to outline or draft your composition.

Sample Brainstorming: Topic: Firecrackers It’s usually believed in this country that it isn’t a festival or special occasion without firecrackers./ That’s too much./ But it’s true./ No matter if it’s during the Spring Festival or on a wedding day, you can hear the explosions and see the jumps of firecrackers./ Then you smell festivity in the air./ Firecrackers are symbols of fortune and good luck. Fortune for the business people who sell firecrackers for great profits, and good luck for the economy.

They surely enliven a festival atmosphere, spreading the good news everywhere, the best way to get attention./ But they also call attention to bad news, too. Like in funerals./ That’s ironic. / Perhaps, those who enjoy them most are kids. It’s just another game for them to play, especially during the New Year season, which arouses their curiosity about the new year to come, and the noises may also disperse some of their childhood anxiety or frustration.

But it’s no longer the case in some large cities of the country, including the capital, Beijing. Firecrackers have been banned there./ Personally, I don’t like firecrackers. The thunderous noises, the thick smothering smoke, and the scattered debris severely pollute the environment, giving headaches to the janitors as well as to the residents./ Firecrackers are totally unpredictable./ They are like human beings./ We often hear of the news about disfigured hands. Because the fuse burns too fast for the kids to make a clean throw before the dynamite-filled firecracker goes off in their hands.

/We also read in the newspaper about lost eyes as
kids try to take a close look at a delayed explosion. Buildings have been burnt down by firecrackers, not to speak of deaths and injuries in train carriages blown up by explosive powder used for firecrackers brought on board by passengers./ Such incidents all prove to be big shocks to the pocketbook and huge

blows to the involved families as well.

5> The reporter’s Formula
In the reporter’s formula, you ask yourself the basic questions often used by journalists reporting events: Who? what? when? where? why? how? You could include any other question about your subject. The important thing is to discover as many directions for your subject as possible. You will then have many alternatives from which to choose the one specific direction for your paper.

Subject Class

examples of general subjects

Discovery Questions

Events and Actions

car accidents failure in math a murder an explosion a picnic a game

1. Specifically what happened? 2. What caused it? 3. What were the consequences? 4. How was it unlike or like similar events? 5. How could the events have


been checked or changed?
6. What values or costs were involved?

7. Who was involved.

Subject Class

examples of general subjects

Discovery Questions

Concepts Terms Ideas

freedom, fear democracy law lie pollution

1. How do most people define it? 2. How do you define it? 3. How has it influenced people’s lives? 4. How is it similar to concepts associated with it?

tyranny immorality

5. How could it be improved or
changed? 6. What value does it have, and

for whom?

? Choose a topic in the following and practice one prewriting strategy introduced today. fashion internet e-buying travel ? Work out a specific branch from the above prewriting practice and shape one topic sentence for the topic.

Review exercises
? Page 10 of CW

? CW p.11-16 ? OWW part II Methods (p.47-92). ? Choose a topic for your first project and discuss it with your group members. ? Use prewriting strategies to gather generate ideas that might be used in your writing project 1.



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