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The process model proposes that a finished paper is the result of the complex interaction of activities that include several stages of development: prewriting, drafting, pausing, reading, revising, editing, and publishing. Not every writing task is to pass every stage though. In some situations, a writer may not have an opportunity to do much of planning, or a professional editor may not do the editing. Nevertheless, these stages are believed to reflect in a general way how successful writing develops.
Prewriting activities help writers in generating ideas, strategies, information, and approaches for a given writing task. They give proper direction to developing the writing task at hand. From this perspective, prewriting in its broadest sense is the thinking good writers do before they start composing.
The sections that follow describe some of the more effective ways to stimulate student's thinking about a topic. It is important to stress that there is no such thing as the best way to do about prewriting. What works well for some students will fail others; what works well for one assignment will not do for another one. Some writers use various combinations of prewriting activities, whereas others are only committed to one. Students should experiment to determine what works best for them.
Prewriting activities take place before starting on the first draft of a paper. They include discussion, outlining, prewriting, journals, talk-write, and metaphor.Planning Reflecting on the material produced during prewriting to develop a plan to achieve the paper goal.
Planning involves considering the rhetorical stance, rhetorical purpose, the aim of the text, how these factors are interrelated, and how they are connected to the information generated during prewriting. Planning also involves selecting support for a claim and locking out at least a rough organizational structure.Drafting Producing paper on a computer or on paper that match (more or less) the initial plan for the work.
Writing is time consuming. Good writers seldom try to produce an entire text in one sitting or even in one day.Pausing Moments when writing is not done. Instead, writers are analyzing what they have produced and how well it matches their plans. Usually includes reading.
Pausing is needed by both good and poor writers, but they use it in different ways. writers consider global factors--how well the text matches the plan, how well it is meeting audience needs, and overall organization.Reading Moments during pausing when writers read what they have written and compare it to their plans.
Reading and writing are interrelated activities. Good readers are good writers and vise versa. The reading that takes place during writing is crucial to the reflection process during pausing.Revising Literally "re-seeing" the text with the goal of making large-scale changes so that text and plan match.
Revising is normally done after the first draft is finished. It involves making changes that enhance the match between plan and text. Factors to consider usually are the same as those considered during planning: rhetorical stance, rhetorical purpose, and so on. Serious revising almost always includes getting suggestions from friends or colleagues on how to improve the writing.Editing Focusing on sentence-level concerns, such as punctuation, sentence length, spelling, agreement between subject and verb, and style.
Editing is done after revising. The goal is to give the paper a professional appearance.Publishing Sharing the finished text with its intended audience.
Publishing is not limited to getting a text printed in a journal. It includes turning a paper in to a teacher, a boss, or an agency.
Above is a checklist of questions students can use to stimulate and guide discussions; although they are not comprehensive, the questions illustrate the kind of thinking that is part of an effective discussion.
Outlines can be a very beneficial prewriting device if used properly. Too often, however, the focus is on the structural details of the outline rather than its content. That is, students spend much effort deciding whether an A must have a B; whether a primary heading begins with a Roman numeral or an upper-case letter; whether a secondary heading begins with a lower-case letter, a lower-case Roman numeral, or an Arabic numeral, and so on. Such details are not important. Outlines begin when writers list the major points they want to address in their papers without worrying much about order. They become more useful when they acquire more features. In other words, outlines start with general points and shift to specific ones. The outlines that follow illustrate these principles. It is worth noting, however, that outlines appear to work most effectively when writers use them to generate ideas about topics and theses that they have already decided on.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the social-theoretic model is that it provides a goal that writing teachers can strive for with their students. The majority of students may not be able to see themselves as historians, musicians, accountants, or whatever, but at least they may stop seeing themselves merely as students and start seeing themselves as writers. Teachers are responsible for helping them attain this vision, and in most situations they can do so by making certain that every writing task be related to the real world. In practical terms, a real-world emphasis means that students' compositions will do something in the tangible sense of performing a social action.
The following anecdote suggests one way the pragmatic view may be translated into practice. Robert, a credential candidate with a degree in history, began his student teaching by asking his eighth-grade class for a writing sample. He felt very strongly that all teachers, not just those in language arts, should be dedicated to helping develop children's language. The class had been studying U.S. government, and one of the students, Joey, submitted the following:
"The US consitution is an importent dokument. It give us many rites. Like speech and freedom. Witout the Consitution we might as well be rushans. What our president Raygin call the "evil empire." But sometime it seem that the consitution give us to much freedoms. Many time crimnals do not go to jail for doing bad things when they should go to jail. Thats not right and the consitution should change it."
In a conference 2 days later, Robert asked Joey to recall the things he had been thinking about when he wrote this paper. The purpose was to gain additional insight into Joey's composing process. Joey's response, which Robert recorded, was typical for a student who has come to believe that product is all important and who has come to see writing as a nonfunctional enterprise: "I was thinkin' I do not spell so good and was wonderin' if I had written enough."
Robert knew his work was cut out for him. According to the course guide, the next major study unit dealt with U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. He asked his class whether they would like to have some pen pals from the Philippines who could give them some firsthand knowledge of life in one part of Southeast Asia. The students were enthusiastic, and a letter to a school principal in Manila began an exchange of letters that continued long after the unit on Southeast Asia was concluded.
Students on both sides of the Pacific were interested in learning more about the culture and lifestyle of their counterparts, and for the American children, the letters from Manila seemed to reinforce significantly what they were learning about history and government. Just as important, they suddenly had a purpose for writing. Written language had become meaningful. Composing the letters was always a collaborative project, with children working together in small groups, sharing letters they had received from abroad and also sharing the letters they were writing. The children were encouraged to include pertinent class experiences in their letters. Robert circulated among them as they composed, offering suggestions when necessary and answering questions when asked.
Giving these students a real reason to write had a very positive effect on their work. All the students improved, as the following letter shows. Like the previous sample, it was written by Joey, just over a month after the paper about the Constitution, at a time when Ferdinand Marcos, former dictator of the Philippines , was still in office:
Thank you for your last letter. Since I got it we have been studying more about your country. And I have been thinking about what you said about how nice it must be to live in America. We seem to have more freedom than you and its easier for us to make money and buy the things that make life comfortable. I think things would be better for you if you did not have martial law. Then maybe the government would not have all the money. It must be tough with the army and the police telling you what time you have to go to bed and stuff. . . . I do not know why our president helps keep your president in power. I think he do not want to lose the navy base that keeps a lot of our ships on one of your islands. . . .
What we see here is that when written language becomes meaningful, writing performance improves on all levels. For example, Joey's concern over the impression his spelling might have on Emilio motivated him (perhaps for the first time) to write with a dictionary close at hand.