Saturday, August 4, 2007


Exercise One:

Where to Start – Generating Ideas Through Pre-writing
Prewriting strategies help you develop your ideas on a topic. They are useful in helping you narrow down a topic that is too big or broaden a topic that is too small. There are several different, and useful, pre-writing techniques. Two of the simplest types are brainstorming and clustering.

(1) Brainstorming: Brainstorming is simply writing on paper all the ideas that come to mind about a topic. There is no right or wrong way to brainstorm. You just write anything you think of on your paper in no particular order or sequence.

How to Brainstorm a Topic:

Step 1 -- Choose the topic you’re interested in writing about and write it at the top of your paper.

Step 2 -- Write down as many words, phrases, or sentences as you can think of underneath the topic.

Step 3 -- Once you’ve finished writing down as many ideas as you can, examine your ideas to see if any of them have anything in common.
Step 4 -- You are likely to see that some of your ideas are related and do, indeed, have things in common. Identify these relationships, or similarities, and create several categories for your ideas. Write those on the backside of your paper.
Step 5 -- Look at your brainstorming list and lump your ideas into the categories you’ve created as you see fit.

(2) Clustering: Basically, clustering is an idea web. Once you have your topic, clustering can help you generate ideas about that topic and recognize relationships between your ideas. These relationships become categories which eventually could make up the bulk of your essay (the essay body, see exercise ). Clustering will also help you weed out ideas that are weak and spotlight ideas that are strong.

How to Cluster a Topic:

Step 1 -- Write your topic on the top of your page.

Step 2 -- Generate ideas by writing down everything that comes to mind about that topic and circle those ideas. They should be scattered over your page.

Step 3 -- Once you’ve finished generating ideas, examine what you’ve written and draw lines between those ideas that share a connection. Any connection will do, and you may add new ideas to the cluster if you come up with more while you make connections.

Step 4 -- Single out those ideas that have the most lines connecting them to other ideas. You should aim for three or more.

Step 5 -- Ask yourself what the relationships or connections are between the ideas you chose in step 4. These become categories. Aim for three or more categories and write them on a separate page.

Step 6 -- Beneath each category on the page you started in step 5, write the ideas that you felt fell into each category. These categories and ideas can be used later to make up the paragraphs of your essay.

Working individually, students are to brainstorm or cluster any four topics from the list below:

Travel, Divorce, Peer pressure, Television, and violence
Discipline, Drugs, Family, Family planning, Friends, Sports,
Jobs, School, Loyalty, School uniforms, Underage drinking

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