The Writing Process
Length: 2142 words (6.1 double-spaced pages)
1. Planning: Planning is the process of setting document objectives, analyzing audience needs and responses, and developing a course of action to accomplish the objectives. Effective planning takes time at the beginning of the project, but overall saves a lot of time.
2. Research: Research is the systematic investigation of a subject in order to discover facts, opinions, or beliefs. The amount of research needed for a written assignment depends on the nature of the document and the information available about the subject. While minimal research is usually needed for simple memos or letters, longer, more complex documents may require more.
3. Organization: Organization relates to the decisions writers make based on their communication objectives, audience requirements, and format limitations. These decisions determine the order, in which they present their ideas, and logical connections that exist among these ideas, and the approach they take to present the ideas.
4. Composition: This process involves following your organizational writing plan to produce a rough draft. As this process begins writers make decisions about such matters as tone, style, and level of formality.
5. Design: Design is the process of placing information on a page so that it is easily read. Various design elements help clarify organization, including headings, underlining, and bulleted lists.
6. Revision: This is the final stage of the writing process. It includes five specific steps that transform a rough draft into a finished document. These steps include the following:
Ensure the best words, style, and tone are used.
Check for clarity and conciseness and remove all jargon.
Eliminate all punctuation, grammatical and spelling errors
Focus on coherence through the use of effective transitions.
Check for factual errors.
The Five Steps in the Writing Process
1. Purpose: You have to understand your aim or intention for writing. You must know if you are writing to inform, to persuade, to describe, to narrate, to summarize, to define, or to compare.
2. Audience: You have to know your audience and how that audience might influence your approach.
3. Stance: Stance refers to the combined effect of voice and tone. Voice is your relationship with the audience and tone is the relationship with your subject.
4. Research: During this step one has to decide if research needs to be conducted or whether your current information is adequate.
5. Design: Design refers to a clear sequence for communicating your information most effectively.
Helping to Achieve the Writing Objective
The thesis is your basic position and is usually conveyed in a single sentence.
Every successful paragraph has a clear thesis or claim, a single point or idea that the writer wishes to convey. The thesis statement is usually placed at the end of the opening paragraph. Everything that appears in the introduction must relate directly to the thesis.
The Major Differences between a Formal and an Informal Outline
A formal outline follows prescribed rules concerning content and format in order to show the precise relationship among ideas. The core idea is placed at the top of the outline to guide the documents organization. An informal outline is a more loosely connected organizational device that need not follow the strict structural rules of a formal outline. Still, it lists main and subordinate ideas as well as supporting evidence.
The Benefits Gained from Answering the “Pentad” or the “Journalist’s Questions”
It is beneficial to answer the “Journalist’s Questions” because they act as guidelines to preparing stories. Answering these six questions helps to analyze information from different perspectives; they can also be used to plan business documents.
How and Why You Analyze Your Audience?
1. Consider the readers knowledge.
2. Consider the readers questions.
3. Learn to interpret requests.
4. Consider the readers position.
5. Consider the readers’ biases and interests.
6. Measure your level of formality.
7. Guard against false assumptions.
8. Make sure you make sense.
Eight Patterns That May Be Used When Organizing a Document
1. Deductive Organizational Pattern: This organizational pattern requires information to be presented in the below manner:
Answers before explanations
Requests before reasons
Summaries before details
Conclusions before discussions
General statements before specifics
2. Inductive Organizational Pattern: This pattern assumes that a general or broadly meaningful pattern can be described on the basis of specific facts or observations. This method is based on facts not details.
3. Direct Organizational Pattern: This pattern organizes material so that the main point is presented at the beginning of the message. Messages are as clear and straight forward as possible. This method is best used in direct requests, informative messages, positive correspondence, and persuasive messages.
4. Indirect Organizational Pattern: The main point is stated later in the message. Purpose is usually to prepare reader to accept information favourably. This pattern is often used to convey bad news or when persuasion is an important goal in the message.
5. Problem/Solution Pattern: The discussion opens with a particular problem or problems and works toward a solution. The opening statement identifies the problem. The following statements introduce the main idea of the solution. This approach is best used when you want to persuade someone that you can remedy a difficult situation.
6. Cause and Effect Pattern: This pattern is used to explain a problem and how it affects an organization. It can also be used to identify events and activities that result in opportunities or advantages. It must show clear relationships and repetitious patterns. You must take definite steps to avoid oversimplification.
7. Climatic-Order Pattern: This pattern should be used when dealing with controversial issues. This pattern presents material that the reader is most likely to agree with first, therefore helps to enlist the readers support for the rest of the document.
8. Chronological Pattern: This pattern is useful in setting out the sequence for a project or process or setting the agenda for a conference or meeting. It describes a series of events either in the order they occurred or in reverse sequence.
Nine Ways a Paragraph Can Develop to Promote Purpose and Structure
1. Narrative: This type of paragraph tells you what happened or what is happening. To test the effectiveness of a narrative paragraph, ask the following questions:
Is the illustration relevant or connected directly to the point?
Is the passage organized chronologically?
Does the narrative show a cause-effect relationship between events?
Is the topic sentence the key to understanding the narrative?
2. Example: This type of paragraph provides a specific example to illustrate a point. To test an example paragraph, you can ask the following questions:
Is the point illustrated by the example clearly stated?
Is the example developed fully and does it validate the illustrated point?
3. Explanation: Explanation can be by process or analogy and lends itself to these questions:
Is the process or analogy clearly and sequentially organized?
Is the order that you have chosen clearly communicated?
Is the chronological or spatial order understandable?
4. Description: A description uses words to render a portrait of a person, object, or event. You can test a description with the following questions:
Is the arrangement of the description’s elements orderly?
Do the primary items of the description stand out?
Does it make a clear, dominant point?
5. Classification: Classification divides things into classes or groups on the basis of a common denominator. To be clear it should have the following qualities:
Are the distinctions between the classes clear?
Is there a valid reason for the classifications?
Does the classification use a hierarchy or suggest organizing structure, such as first to last?
6. Analysis: Analysis divides a subject into individual parts. An analysis paragraph can be tested with the following questions:
Does the analysis show how the subject works and how its parts relate to one another?
Is the analysis comprehensive? Relevant?
7. Compare/Contrast: Comparison and contrast shows how two or more items are similar or dissimilar. To test paragraphs for this ask the following questions:
How are items in a set similar to or different from each other?
The author may be comparing or contrasting items the audience is familiar with to items they are unfamiliar with.
Is the purpose for the comparison clear?
8. Definition: A definition paragraph establishes the meaning of a word or concept. In composing such a paragraph, you need to ask yourself:
Is the definition clear?
Is it necessary?
Is it sufficient?
Is it essential to the subject you are examining?
9. Transitions: You have to know how to move from one idea to the next within your paragraph or between paragraphs. Equally important, your reader has to be able to follow you as you move. This is where transitional words and phrases are essential. Different types are used in different circumstances.
Four Forms of Evidence Used in Business Documents
1. Facts: Facts clarify why a situation exists in its present form, specify what is being done to change or remedy a situation, and explain why a decision has been made. To be effective, facts must accomplish the following goals:
They must clarify the main point.
They must define all new terms and concepts.
They must present evidence supporting the main point.
2. Statistics: Numerical evidence is presented as statistics – mathematical expressions that describe findings in an objective, uniform way and provide standards for determining whether those findings are valid measurements or chance occurrences. The following guidelines should be followed:
Provide a context for numbers.
Round off numbers.
Limit the use of statistics.
3. Examples: Examples make information both real and memorable. Examples can bring your point home more effectively than a well-reasoned argument. Examples may be as short as a phrase or as long as several paragraphs. The following guidelines should be followed:
Examples should reinforce your point not come before it.
Examples should include only the details necessary to state your case.
Choose examples that accurately reflect the broader situation.
4. Expert Opinion: The opinion of a recognized authority or an expert often provides effective support for an argument. An expert is someone who is more familiar with primary sources than you are. The following guidelines should help you in selecting expert opinions:
Be sure the person you are quoting is a recognized expert.
Be certain that your experts are reliable
Make every effort to quote sources accurately and in the proper context.
Elements of Design and Their Functions
1. Short Paragraphs: It is a mistake to crowd a document with too many words. Try to begin your document with a short paragraph that expresses your core idea or main purpose. Your message will be communicated immediately and the reader will have less trouble understanding your objectives.
2. Headings: Visual markers that indicate the organization of your document are called headings. Headings make documents easy to use by drawing the reader’s eye to distinct sections. Headings both describe information and break it down into manageable units. Primary headings indicate titles for major organizational sections. Secondary headings signal titles for each subsection within a major section. Headings should enhance the visual impact of a document, so writers should use a consistent style for heading placement a design.
3. Enhanced Text: Information can also be emphasized through the selective use of enhanced text. These design elements direct the reader’s attention to items that the writer chooses to emphasize.
4. Bulleted Lists: Bullets are visual cues that indicate critical information by highlighting items contained in lists. Because business writing often contains lists, bullets can be effective design elements. They transform imposing blocks of text into more inviting units of information.
The Process of Revision
Revising refers to the process of adding, deleting, replacing, and reorganizing words, sentences, and paragraphs to produce an unedited final draft. Revising is a process of evaluating and assessing your meaning and your effectiveness or communicating it. The following are some revision guidelines:
Effective revision requires a critical read-through to determine whether the document accomplishes its intended purpose.
Reading the draft aloud can ensure that the sound and tone of the language is appropriate.
You can also use checklists and style sheets as writing guides.
The Process of Editing
Editing involves correcting mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and producing a document that reflects a consistent style for elements such as numbers, abbreviations, and capitalization. Editing focuses on technical correctness.
The methods of revision that I practice are similar to the process above. After I complete a document I always wait at least one hour and then give it a critical read-through to determine whether or not it meets my expectations. Although I rarely read it aloud or follow any set checklist, I still feel my documents are usually presented in a professional fashion.
The process of editing I use is similar to the one mentioned above. After I have completed a typed document on the computer I go back through it and format it to my liking, making sure it looks as presentable as possible. Mistakes such as grammar, punctuation and spelling are usually caught immediately by the built in functions of the computer. Styling and formatting is usually done quickly with the simple click of a button.