Stage 1. Think (Step 2)
Photo by Veerasak Piyawatanakul
If you generated ideas and selected a mangageable one, you still should not go straight into writing. If you do, every time you
have a “better idea,” you will find yourself rewriting paragraphs, moving ideas around, and wasting a lot of time.
You should first plan what you want to write about your idea!
Writing without a plan is like navigating a new city without an itinerary or a map. You will likely get lost and spend
your trip trying to re-orient yourself. This can be adventurous if you’re on vacation; it does not work very well if you’re writing on a deadline.
Planning Your Writing
You should first consider your topic, purpose, and audience.
How broad or how narrow is your topic?
If you were assigned a specific topic, much has already been decided for you. Other times, your task is to write
about a broad topic, subject, or area. Either way, be sure to know both exactly (1) what your topic is,
(2) how broad or narrow it is, and (3) how broad or narrow you want it to be.
Your prewriting helped you generate ideas, but you may have ended up with too few or too many ideas.
Too few ideas will leave you without enough to write about; too many, and you won’t be able to develop your
ideas fully. Make sure you have enough to say about the topic but, at the same time, keep it manageable.
Too little. If you fear you may have too little to write about, use one of the prewriting techniques again
but, this time, limit its scope to what you already generated. Expand that idea or ideas.
Too much. If you believe you may have too much to write about, consider limiting its scope to something
more manageable. Unless you are writing a long book, you sometimes need to throw out what you think are good ideas,
but that is part of the process.
What is your purpose?
The purpose or reason for writing is very important because it determines the style of writing, the format, and
the mode of writing. For example, if you are writing to describe something, your writing will likely be somewhat
informal, and your paragraphs will be structured so that you create a picture in the reader’s mind.
If you are telling a story, you must consider the sequence of events over time, the characters, the setting,
the moral of the story, and so on. If your purpose is to persuade the reader, you need a good logical structure and sufficient,
relevant information to support your argument.
What is your audience?
The audience refers to who will read your work. You write for a real audience and an intended audience. The real audience
refers to the people you know will read your work. The intended audience refers to the people that might be interested in
For example, let’s say you are completing a college assignment, and your topic is “the democratic process in the United States.”
Your real audience is your professor and perhaps your classmates. Your intended audience is anyone
interested in government and politics.
Why is it important to think of your audience? Knowing your audience helps you decide on how formal and detailed your writing should be. For example,
- If your essay on “the democratic process in the U.S.” targets an academic audience, you must use academic English.
- If young children are your target audience, you must consider how much a young audience can understand complex concepts.
- If your intended audience are experts in the area, there is no need to define keywords or concepts; you can expect the audience to know
- If you are writing for a “general audience,” you should define keywords and concepts such an audience might be unfamiliar with.
Note. This video was part of the previous lesson. It includes informaiton about generating ideas
and planning. If you have already watched it, review your study notes and watch it again.
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