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Overview of Allyn & Bacon Handbook, pp. 87-95

Writing is non-linear. This means we don't just start at the beginning and write right through to the last draft. Instead, it's really circular--we keep tracking back to planning, researching, drafting, editing, etc. throughout the process. BUT to get a good grasp on the process it helps to think of writing in three basic stages, as long as we understand that we can jump to any stage during the composing process.

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The Invention Stage: planning, thinking, freewriting, mapping, outlining, researching, listing, writing a thesis, figuring out your audience, figuring out your purpose, etc.

The Drafting Stage: writing early drafts; organizing paragraphs; establishing a sequential argument; logical transitions; incorporating content to support your claims; etc.

The Editing Stage: correcting mechanical errors (capitalization, abbreviations, italics, hyphens); correcting punctuation errors; correcting diction errors (spelling, definitions, colloquialisms); correcting grammatical errors; correcting style errors (in-text and end-of-text citations)

Gloss (write a one- or multi-word summary) each paragraph in your draft to see if it matches your original plan/list/outline. Revise your outline to fit the flow of your draft, if you feel it is on track. If you feel your draft is getting off the point, return to your outline. Revise plan/outline as needed.

Reconsider your audience and purpose. As you reread your draft, ask yourself if your audience will know and understand any given word or concept or acronym.

Three levels of revision:

  • Unity: The essay as a whole conveys a main thesis, which is supported by secondary claims in logical sections, which are illustrated by individual sentences in paragraphs.The paper does not stray significantly off the topic.

  • Coherence: the arguments (and paragraphs and sections) are logical and sequential. Transitions are used effectively to move from one text section/logical claim to another.

  • Balance: your most important secondary claims receive more attention than less important points. At this point you may need to cut from some sections and add to others.

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