Paul's Weekly Feature
Many students in our
English, Literature, Social Studies, Science, and other
classes, tend to start writing their paragraph or essay just
as soon as a topic is assigned. This rush to start writing
not only limits the quality of a student’s written work, but
also restricts the student from displaying his or her true
Before starting to write
your first draft, be sure to take a little time to think about
the topic and to devise a plan for your writing. Otherwise,
your writing will likely be inefficient and of limited quality
because you’ll be constantly revising and editing while
unfolding your ideas on the topic.
An important part to
becoming a better writer requires you to view writing as a
process, made up of steps that lead to a final copy that
you’ll be proud of. The ‘writing process’ concept is an
extremely useful tool for most writing assignments. This
process can be divided into five steps: Prewriting,
Writing, Revising, Editing, and Publishing.
Step 1. Prewriting –
The overall goal of this step is to come up with an outline, or a
plan, for your writing. Prewriting can be divided into four
sub-steps: getting a topic, brainstorming, choosing, and
last but not least, organizing.
a) getting a topic:
Your instructor at the PALC will either assign the class
only one main writing topic, or give several main topics to
choose from. You may need to narrow down the main topic to
make it more specific.
Once you have the writing topic,
spend a few moments coming up with thoughts, ideas, and
facts about the topic. Write these down briefly, in point
form. These thoughts, ideas, and facts should be recorded
either in a list, in a chart, or in a graphic organizer such
as a mind-map or a web.
Now look back at your brainstormed thoughts, ideas, and
facts, and choose the ones you wish to discuss in your
writing. Furthermore, where you can, add briefly a
supporting example or two next to each chosen item.
Finally, organize the selected items in the order that you
wish to discuss them in your writing. You are creating an
outline, or a map, to guide your discussion and to help you
stay on topic as your writing unfolds.
Step 2. Writing –
In this step you write your first copy, or rough draft, of the
writing assignment. Follow the outline you developed in the
Prewriting step as you develop your selected thoughts, ideas,
facts, and supporting examples, into complete sentences.
Keeping in mind that your target
audience is the main consideration, focus on the writing aspects including
meaning, style, form, and conventions. Try not to stop once you start
writing – revising and editing will be done next. The goal here is to get
only an initial working copy of your writing.
Step 3. Revising –
This is where you check and improve the ‘flow’ of your
writing. Read over the first draft, and look for ways to connect better
with the reader. It’s important for the reader to become interested and
drawn in to your writing.
As you read your first draft, ask
yourself questions such as: Is the writing on topic everywhere? Are the
ideas and examples relevant? Is the language clear and easy to follow?
Does the level of language and vocabulary vary? Is there a variety of
sentence structure? Are transitions used effectively to connect ideas?
Does every paragraph have a topic sentence, supporting details, and a
concluding sentence? Does the overall writing contain a beginning, a
middle, and an end?
If you answer is “no” to any of the
above questions, then you’ll need to revise your writing.
Step 4. Editing – Also called
proofreading, editing is when you look for and correct errors in grammar,
spelling, and punctuation. This of course also includes checking for
subject/verb agreement, consistency of verb tense, and completeness of
Step 5. Publishing –
This final step refers to presenting your instructor with a
good copy of your writing. You’ll need to rewrite the first draft,
incorporating the corrections and changes from Revising and Editing.
So the next time you’re given an
in-class or out-of-class writing assignment, be sure to apply the writing
process when you can. The amount of time and effort you spend in each of
the five steps will depend on such things as your familiarity with the
topic, on the amount of time you have, or on the specific writing
In addition, keep in mind that the five
steps are not independent. In other words, since writing is a process, you
can either combine the steps, or go back and forth between them, or alter
them to suit the writing assignment. Using the writing process will
improve the quality of most of your writing assignments in most subject
For reference and further details, check
ABC's of the Writing
Writing Process (MIT)
Try the following quiz. On-line quizzes
Quiz on The Writing Process
(answers are given below)
1. The rush to start writing
a) helps the writer.
b) is done by only a few students.
c) limits the quality of the written
d) is evident only in English
2. It’s important to take some time to
devise a writing plan before writing.
3. The first step in the writing process
is ________, and the last step is ________.
a) Revising, Editing.
b) Editing, Prewriting.
c) Prewriting, Revising.
d) Prewriting, Publishing.
4. The goal of the Prewriting step is to
come up with an outline.
5. In the organizing sub-step of
Prewriting, you arrange the order of your chosen
d) supporting examples.
e) a, b, c, and d.
6. As you write your first draft in the
Writing step, your main consideration is
b) the target audience of your
c) the students around you.
7. In the Revising step, corrections are
made to the grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
8. You would normally check for
subject/verb agreement while
9. A student would check for clarity,
transitions, and sentence structure variety, while Revising.
10. It is stated that some of the five
steps can be combined or altered to suit the writing assignment. The verb
a) kept the same.
(Answers: 1c, 2b, 3d, 4a, 5e, 6b, 7b,
8d, 9a, 10b)
On-line quizzes you can try:
Writing Process Quiz