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Using Your Prewriting During Drafting

Using Your Prewriting During Drafting

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson teaches how to use your outline and annotated bibliography during the drafting process.

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Welcome to English Composition. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me. What are we going to learn today? Today we're going to learn how to make the transition from the pre-writing and researching steps of the writing process to drafting. We'll talk about outlining, annotated bibliographies, and the drafting process. And then we'll look at an example writing project and see how these can and should interact.

The purpose of an outline for a research paper is, in part, to identify when and why specific research sources should be used in the essay. Having a solid outline that includes a plan for incorporating research, and referring to the outline during drafting, helps combat writer's block, maintain focus, avoid unintentional plagiarism by forgetting to cite other writers ideas, and speeding up the drafting process overall. But no matter how detailed their outlines may be, it's important for writers to remain flexible at this stage in the writing process.

It's best to think of an outline as a guide, not a contract. It's likely, and not necessarily a bad thing, that new ideas and points will develop during the writing process. Because the act of writing is a form of thinking. Unplanned research may be required to support a specific idea, which may include new research that needs to be done, or realizing that a source already reviewed would work well in a place the writer hadn't originally planned for it to be used.

This is where annotated bibliographies can come in since they can help writers remember the sources they've evaluated, including the main points and possible value for the essay. It's always a good idea to refer back to the annotated bibliography and any other research notes you might have whenever you feel the need to be sure you're using a source correctly, or are considering incorporating a source into an unplanned section of the essay. It's also important to give yourself enough time during this part of the drafting process, as developments and changes either to an outline or a draft can take time to accomplish.

Now, let's take a little time to see what this process can actually look like. Here's an outline that I've made for an essay I'm working on with a working thesis stating that, "Coding should be taught as a core subject throughout K to 12 education." My plan is to argue that technology improves educational outcomes with a couple sources to support that claim. And then go on to say that technology can help students become creators rather than passive users, which would build entrepreneurial, creative, and other needed job skills. I've got a source for that, too.

Then I'll want to explore counterarguments. The most obvious to me being that this would be too expensive to implement, and that it would just expand the income gap. And that not all students need to learn to code, just like not all students need to learn to play the piano, or other classical instruments taught at many schools. My conclusion would be focused around a discussion about how coding is a new form of literacy.

Now, I've already begun working on my first draft. Here's what I've got so far. As you can see, I've already completed an introduction and the first body paragraph. So now, according to the outline, I need to start talking about how technology helps students become creators, thus building entrepreneurial skills and other needed job skills.

I've also got a note telling me to use Jake Levine's source here, too. But if I look at my annotated bibliography here, I'll see that Levine is arguing against forcing people to learn to code without any purpose. Saying that instead we should be teaching it as a way of building things.

This is good, and it connects to my conclusion's ideas about promoting coding as a form of literacy. But for my purposes here in the middle of the essay, I'm not sure it's quite on target. Before I can start arguing about how coding should be taught, I think I need to do more to explain why it should be taught. Luckily, I've also got some notes about my other sources.

Let's look at Laura Devaney's article. I wrote that she's discussing a study showing how technology and education can help at-risk students, which I've already used in the previous paragraph. But this here, this bit about how it helps students learn to explore and create, that sounds like something I could use in this paragraph. So let's do that. And then I can probably use that as a transition into Levine's text.

And now fast forward a little. Here's the new paragraph with both of its sources. This should be a stronger piece of support for my thesis than the outline originally called for, which is a good improvement. Because like we learned already, an outline is a guide, not a contract.

I've also had an idea about my introduction. Looking back at it, I've decided that there's a lack of citation here, this first line. I've been thinking it was OK to just leave it uncited and as a generally accepted fact. But now I'm not sure. I should find a source and make sure that this is accurate.

It turns out it is. As after short round of online research, I found a study posted on the National Public Radio website stating exactly this. So I'll just add the parenthetical reference here and make sure my readers can find the bibliographic entry on my works cited page in case they want to learn more.

So these are examples of the ways that these supposedly separate steps in the writing process-- namely pre-writing, researching, and drafting-- are really intermingled. And that's the way it's supposed to be. Because after all, it's all one writing process.

What did we learn today? We learned about how to use outlines and annotated bibliographies during the drafting process, and then we saw a couple examples of this. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.