Planning and Shaping

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‡ Write quickly. ‡ Don¶t edit as you go; just put down the words as fast as you can. ‡ If you get stuck, just write ³I¶m stuck, I¶m stuck«´ until you think of something.

© 2003 Prentice Hall

CLARIFYING GOALS ‡ PURPOSE: What do you want the reader to know, do, or feel as a result of reading your text? ‡ Are you informing, evaluating, persuading, or entertaining?
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‡ AUDIENCE: Who are your readers? What is their approximate age/ interest and knowledge level/ educational level in your subject? Are they experts, ³general public,´ your peers or fellow students?


‡ Which of the following thesis sentences are effective? Ineffective? ‡ Explain what is wrong with each of the ineffective theses and revise them. ‡ Assume an essay of 500 words and an audience of generally educated adults whom you do not know personally.
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SAMPLE THESIS #1 ORIGINAL: George Washington was the first president of the United States. REVISED: As the first president of the United States, George Washington had to resist those who wanted to turn him into a king. ‡ The original sentence is a statement of fact, something accepted as true rather than a worthwhile assertion.
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ORIGINAL: Student government at my university is worthless. REVISED: Student government at my university has no money, no power, and no mandate. ‡ The original sentence is unrestricted, with a vague predicate. It sounds like what will follow will be an emotional tirade rather than sound reason.
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SAMPLE THESIS #3 ORIGINAL: Many colleges exploit their athletes, using them as revenue-producing machines, ignoring their needs as students and failing to regard bright students who do not happen to be athletes. REVISED: Many colleges exploit their athletes, using them as revenue-producing machines while ignoring their needs as students. ‡ The original sentence lacks unity, containing at least three ideas not clearly related.
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SAMPLE THESIS #4 ORIGINAL: Strawberry cheesecake is the best kind. REVISED: No longer must the cheesecake worshipper settle for plain cheesecake: he or she can find everything from the delightful (strawberry) to the exotic (kumquat). ‡ The original sentence is unworkable because a simple preference cannot be proven, only asserted. The revised sentence reflects a change to the informative process.
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SAMPLE THESIS #5 ORIGINAL: Shakespeare was a great writer. REVISED: In Julius Caesar, we see one dimension of Shakespeare¶s greatness: he offers something for everyone, from the bawdy puns of the opening scene, to the comparison of different styles of leadership that informs the whole play. ‡ The original sentence is unrestricted and obvious.
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ORIGINAL: I just moved to Oregon. REVISED: Moving from Boston to Oregon still means moving from the Old World to the New. ‡ The original sentence was a simple statement of fact, of little interest to readers who do not know the writer personally.

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THE INFORMAL OUTLINE ‡ Used for planning.
± More sophisticated than lists, idea trees, or notes. ± Shows subordination of ideas as well as sequence of ideas.

‡ Helps develop a writing strategy.
± ± ± ± Aids identification of main ideas. Allows for grouping of ideas/ evidence. Links subordinate minor points to major ideas. Allows you to experiment with the order in which ideas will appear.

© 2003 Prentice Hall

THE INFORMAL OUTLINE ‡ May be all that is needed to get started. ± Valuable tool for timed writing, such as exams, as well as for writing with a deadline. ± Can take any shape the writer finds useful. ‡ Useful in revision. ± Checks organization of what has been written. ± May reveal flaws and show what needs to be revised, such as repetition, gaps, digressions, and problems of sequence or coherence.
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THE FORMAL OUTLINE ‡ Often produced for others. ‡ Rules for the formal outline: ± Use consistent numbers for headings and subheadings. ± Follow either topic, sentence, or paragraph style throughout the outline. ± Use parallel structure. ± Avoid vague headings such as ³Introduction,´ ³Body,´ and ³Conclusion.´ ± Make sure to state your thesis at the top of the outline.
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OUTLINE FORMAT THESIS STATEMENT I. First main idea A. First subordinate idea 1. First reason or example 2. Second reason or example B. Second subordinate idea II. Second main idea
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DANCERS IN THE FOYER: WRITING AS PROCESS EXERCISE ‡ Ballet was one of the favorite subjects of French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917). In this painting he shows several dancers limbering up before a performance. ‡ Prepare to use the four process steps to write about the painting: ± Planning and Shaping ± Drafting ± Revising ± Editing

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‡ Planning for and shaping a piece of writing are also a kind of ³limbering up´ in preparation for a polished ³performance.´ ‡ Look at the whole picture.
± How are the individual figures related to each other? To the setting? ± Which details suggest informality? ± In contrast, which details give a formal feel?
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‡ Drawing on details from Degas¶ painting, freewrite for 10 minutes about how preparing to write resembles preparing for the ballet. Make sure to include differences a well as similarities.


‡ Reread your freewriting. ‡ Underline the most interesting/important sentence you find. ‡ Using this sentence as your topic sentence, draft a paragraph. ‡ Add details and new material to develop your idea.
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REVISING ‡ DETAIL: How have the details you mentioned helped create the central impression of the painting? ‡ ORGANIZATION: Is your paragraph organized? Is it coherent? Does it support your core sentence? ‡ WORD CHOICE: Are your words precise? Replace any vague words with more precise ones.
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‡ Review your paragraph for correctness of sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. ‡ Make any necessary changes.

© 2003 Prentice Hall

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