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2 Tutorials that teach Prewriting
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Author: Mackenzie W

Understand the techniques and objectives of the pre-writing stage of the writing process.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, everyone. I'm Mackenzie. And today, we're learning about prewriting. Are you the type of person who likes to follow an agenda or a roadmap? Prewriting is like an agenda for writing.

In this tutorial, we'll learn about the definition of the writing process. We'll discuss the definition of prewriting. We'll talk about narrowing focus. And we'll discuss outlining.

We'll begin by discussing the definition of the writing process. The writing process is a set of eight steps that we follow to help us to write a piece of writing. The steps are brainstorming, prewriting, developing a thesis statement, researching, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. In this tutorial, we're going to focus on prewriting. And we'll learn how to use focus and outlining to complete that step of the writing process.

We'll now discuss the definition of prewriting. The stage in the writing process called prewriting refers to the planning and the organizing that happens before any active writing takes place. Before we're going to write a paper, we have to think about how we're going to write it. We have to make a plan or an agenda. Prewriting helps us to do that.

The more organized our prewriting is, the stronger our writing is going to become, because we're going to have a clear idea of what we're going to discuss and in what order we're going to discuss it. Prewriting includes planning, conducting and organizing research to get outside information for our writing, narrowing our focus so we know exactly what we want to talk about, and outlining, which shows us what to talk about and when within our writing. Each of these parts of prewriting is important, because the more organized we can be, the easier it will be when we start to actually write our paper.

When we are prewriting to help us to plan our actual writing, one of the first things we have to do is we have to narrow our focus. It's not enough to just have a topic for your writing. You have to narrow that focus in and create a thesis out of the topic. The thesis helps you to figure out how to explain ideas in your writing and how to answer questions.

We narrow our focus from a broad topic to a specific thesis. In order to do that, we have to think about the audience of our writing. And we have to think about the focus-- the reason why we're writing that particular writing. That will help us to narrow in on what exactly we want to say about the topic of our writing.

Once we have a specific thesis, that then becomes the outline. We use that to figure out what our agenda is. What are our ideas, and what order do we want to present them in? Other parts of the writing process, such as brainstorming, researching, and organizing, as well as outlining, help us to figure out what our focus is going to be, and help us to maintain that focus. We have to have a focus, so that we know what to say in the writing.

Now that we have started to use prewriting to develop an agenda or a plan for our writing, we can use outlining. We've narrowed our focus. We now know exactly what we want to talk about. We're going to use our thesis to create an outline.

An outline is a list of your ideas in the order that you want to present them. And an outline is useful because it makes your writing stronger, more effective. It makes it quicker and easier to write, because you already have a plan of what comes in what order. And it helps you to narrow your focus and to support your thesis.

There are a variety of different ways to use an outline. We can create outlines in different ways. It's up to you to figure out which one works best for you. I'm going to show you three examples.

For our examples, I'm going to use the topic that manners need to improve. I've narrowed my focus, and I've come up with a working thesis that says, the decrease in manners in the United States poses societal concerns and focus should be placed on improving manners. That is my focus. Now, I need to come up with some ideas. What do I want to say to support that thesis?

One of the options I can use is called a storyboard outline. This is a very good starting place, because not only does it help us to list our ideas in the order we want them, but it also gives us a visual representation. I use boxes to keep my ideas organized kind of like a flow chart. I start here with my topic, and I move on to my thesis, so that I know specifically what it is that my focus will be.

Now, I can decide on some ideas I want to use as some main points in my writing to support my thesis. I've decided that I want to talk about the reasons why manners are disappearing. Then, maybe I should discuss problems caused by a lack of manners. And then I can talk about ways to improve manners in society. I feel as though these points will support my thesis, although of course as I continue working, I can always revise the points themselves, or the thesis itself.

If I don't want to use a storyboard format, I can always write a very simplified outline in which I have my topic, thesis, and my main points listed. So I have the same information here; it's just stated differently. I don't have a whole lot of detail in my outline right now. These are just my preliminary ideas. I can go back in and fill in more ideas and more details as I continue developing.

Then, I will have a more detailed outline that perhaps looks like this. I have my topic, my thesis, and my main points. And I've started to include some subpoints. I'm developing more ideas to support the main points I have chosen that will support my thesis. Again, if at any point I feel like I'm not efficiently supporting my thesis, I can change the main points, I can change the order of the ideas, I can change the thesis itself. The outline helps me to choose what I want to do.

These outline examples show us the ways in which we can find an outline that works best for us to help us to figure out what our ideas are and in what order we want to present those ideas to make it easier when we begin drafting our piece of writing.

In this tutorial, we learned about the definition of the writing process. We discussed the definition of prewriting. We talked about narrowing focus. And we discussed outlining.

Prewriting is like an agenda for writing. I'm Mackenzie. Thanks for listening.

Terms to Know

The pre-written plan for an essay or other piece of writing and generally includes at least a working thesis, the primary ideas to be discussed, and structural organization.


Planning and organization that a writer does before actively beginning to write.