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Writing As a Process


Writing Center, Bryan Campus - A119 - (979) 209-7591

In the Writing Center, we like to help students by identifying what stage of the writing process they are in. While the process will vary between writers, there are nine basic stages, and the Writing Center can help with all of them. The stages of the writing process are:

It is important for writers to go through all of the steps in the writing process. One cannot solve a complicated calculus equation or set up a successful football offense in a single step, so why should writing be any different?

Understanding the assignment

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, and textbooks
What to expect: The tutor will help the student analyze the prompt and set goals for completing the assignment.
Why it is important: Writers cannot produce a good paper if they do not understand what the teacher wants.

Predrafting/Brainstorming

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, and textbooks
What to expect: The tutor and student will discuss the student's ideas and discover several options for the paper.
Why it is important: It takes time to come up with a great idea for a paper. Writers need time to evaluate all of their options before deciding on their topic.

Planning

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, and textbooks
What to expect: The tutor will help the student do the following:

  • organize ideas
  • create a working thesis
  • make an outline (if necessary)
  • consider paragraph development.

Why it is important: Think of this like mapping out a roadtrip. No one would drive out of state for the big game without a map; who knows where the person would end up? The same is true of writing papers. Writers must have a plan.

Drafting

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, textbooks, and planning materials
What to expect: During this stage, students usually work on a computer and ask questions as needed.
Why it is important: The drafting stage is the time when writers just get their ideas on the page. If a student skips ahead and starts editing at this point, then he or she could forget to write something important.

Revising

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, textbooks, and two typed copies of the draft
What to expect: The tutor will ask the student to read the essay out loud; this allows a dialogue to occur naturally. Depending on what the student would like to work on, several topics could be covered during a revision session, such as:

  • content, following the prompt, logic of ideas
  • organization of paragraphs and entire essay
  • transitions or "flow"
  • thesis statement: Does it match the paper? Is it clear?
  • use of evidence and quotations.

Why it is important: It does not matter how impressive the paper looks; if the content is lacking, then so is the paper. Revision ensures that the content is exactly how the writer wants it, that the writer's ideas are clear and that all important topics are covered.

Editing

What to bring: Assignment prompt, class notes, textbooks, and two copies of the draft
What to expect: During this stage, tutors help students focus on the correctness of the language, not on content or organization. Tutors do not "fix" mistakes for students; instead, they look for patterns of mistakes and then teach the student how to identify and correct them in the future. While we may not get through the entire paper, after the session students should be comfortable finishing on their own. During this session students can expect to:

  • read the paper out loud
  • start at the back of the paper, reading one paragraph or sentence at a time (this ensures that the session will stay focused on language and not exceed the time limit)
  • focus only on sentence level concerns
  • find recurring mistakes
  • look at rules for grammar and punctuation
  • apply those rules to sentences.

Why it is important: Grammar and usage errors can make it difficult for the reader to understand the writer's meaning. Also, these kinds of errors make the work look rushed or sloppy.

Documentation

What to bring: All sources and a handbook
What to expect: Tutors will help students:

  • decide what type of sources they have
  • choose which formulas to use
  • check page formatting
  • understand parenthetical citations.

Why it is important: People want to get credit for their ideas. If your roommate stole your ideas and turned them in as his or her own, wouldn't that make you upset? It is important to give your sources credit for their ideas. Also, missing or incorrect citations can be grounds for charges of plagiarism.

Last glance/typo check

What to bring: Two copies of the draft
What to expect: This session is designed to be a final double-check of the paper. During this session students can expect to:

  • read the paper out loud quickly, front to back
  • catch typos and other small errors.

Why it is important: Little typos can mean big mistakes!

Using comments from a graded paper

What to bring: Graded paper, assignment prompt, class notes, and textbooks
What to expect: This session is focused on improving the student's writing. While the tutor will not discuss the merit of the grade, grading polices, or the instructor, he or she will discuss the written comments with the student. The tutor will help the student:

  • understand what each comment means
  • explain how to identify and fix the recurring problems
  • discuss how to improve for next time.

Why it is important: Students learn by making mistakes. However, a student cannot learn if he or she does not understand the mistakes made on the essay. This also gives the student goals to work toward for the next assignment.