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BASIC WRITING SKILLS

UNIT ONE
WRITING EFFECTIVE SENTENCES
1.1 Why are Sentences Important?
In more formal written English clear structure is of paramount importance, and sentences are the
foundation to achieving this. Unlike in spoken English, where the listeners understanding is greatly aided
by intonation, facial expressions and body language, and where repetition, vagueness and uncompleted
ideas are perfectly acceptable, you must write in clear, concise, complete, well-punctuated sentences in
order to express yourself in formal written English.
1.2 Classification of Sentences
1.2.1 Sentences Classified by Structure (Types of Sentences)
Sentences are made up of clauses. A clause is a group of grammatically-related words including a verb
and a subject (though sometimes the subject is implied). They are the building blocks of sentences: every
sentence consists of one or more clauses. In more complex sentences there is always a main clause,
together with one or more relative or subordinating clause(s). Therefore, we can say that a sentence is a
group of clauses expressing a complete thought with some kind of meaning for the audience. Every
sentence must have at least one independent clause. Sentences can be classified according to their
grammatical structure as simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

1) The simple sentence


A simple sentence is a sentence with a single independent clause and no dependent (subordinate) clauses.
It has only one subject and one predicate; however, either the subject or the predicate may contain more
than one element. It also expresses just one idea or provide just one piece of information. In the following
examples "S" stands for the simple subject, and "P" stands for the simple predicate.
Examples: 1. Great literature stirs the imagination.
2. To begin with, my Thermos bottle's cap, screwed in tightly, never fits precisely.
The second example illustrates that a simple sentence can still be a rather lengthy sentence, even it
contains several modifiers. The following sentences are examples of simple sentences which contain a
subject and/or predicate with more than one element. The readers should not be confused with the
compound subjects and predicates of simple sentences with the compound independent clauses of
compound sentences.
Simple sentences with compound subjects:
1. Joe and Ellen came to my house last night. (Both Joe and Ellen performed the action of the verb
came.)

2. The Army, the Red Cross, and the Coast Guard sent units to the disaster area. (The Army, the
Red Cross, and the Coast Guard all performed the action of the verb sent.).
Simple sentences with compound predicates:
1. We drank Pepsi and ate popcorn (The same subject, we, performed the actions of both the verbs
drank and ate.)
2. They sang songs and danced the polka at my wedding (The same subject, they, performed the
actions of both the verbs sang and danced.)
Simple sentence with a compound subject and a compound predicate
1. My father, mother, and sister came to the school play, applauded the performers, and attended the
party afterward. (Father, mother, and sister all performed the actions of the verbs came, applauded, and
attended.)
Once you understand the rules for creating simple sentences, you will be well on your way to writing at
the college level. Simple Sentence = Subject + Verb + Complete thought. A simple sentence can also
be called an independent clause (IC). Example:
Nega had to take the bus to Cabrillo.

2. The compound sentence


A compound sentence is a sentence composed of two or more independent clauses but no dependent
(subordinate) clauses. The independent clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction, by a conjunctive
adverb, or by a semicolon.
Examples: Compound sentences joined by coordinating conjunctions
1. Great literature stirs the imagination, but philosophy challenges the intellect.
2. We drove very fast, for Sheila was about to have her baby.
Example: Compound sentences joined by conjunctive adverbs:
1. Great literature stirs the imagination; however, philosophy challenges the intellect.
2. Patrick and Jeremy worked all night; consequently, they were irritable today.
Example: Compound sentences joined by a semicolon:
1. We need a new car; our old jalopy leaks oil..
2. The government tries to get the most out of taxes; the individual tries to get out of the most taxes. The
following are additional examples of compound sentences.
Batman is a hero. He is successful in catching the criminals in his city.
Batman is a hero, and he is successful in catching the criminals in his city.
OR
Batman is a hero, for he is successful in catching the criminals in his city.

3) The complex sentence


A complex sentence is a sentence that contains a single independent clause and at least one dependent
(subordinate) clause. Such dependent clauses may be adjective clauses, noun clauses, or adverb clauses.
Use comma to set off nonrestrictive (or nonessential) clauses. Separate the opening adverb clauses from
the rest of the sentence with a comma.
Examples: (Dependent clauses are enclosed in brackets):
Complex sentence with an adjective clause:
The horse [that I trained] won the race.
Great literature, [which stirs the imagination], also challenges the intellect.
Note: Which stirs the imagination is an example of an adjective clause which is called a relative clause.
Example: Complex sentences with adverb clauses:
[When the flowers are in bloom], we enjoy going to the mountains.
[If it rains], we will call off the race.
Example: Complex sentences with noun clauses:
[That you are a jerk] is obvious.
[What I want to know] is [why you are angry].
She distributed the tickets to [whoever showed up].
Example: Complex sentence with several dependent clauses:
[When Chaplin was performing with a troupe {which was touring the United States}], Max Sennett, [who
owned the Keystone Comedies}, hired him.
Note: When Chaplin was performing with a troupe which was touring the United States contains the
clause, which was touring the United States.
Complex sentences involve combining two sentences of unequal value; one sentence is dependent on the
other for its full meaning. For example, after her father reads her a bedtime story is not a complete
sentence, for it does not make sense by itself. It leaves us with the question, what happened after the
bedtime story? It is an example of a dependent clause. Unlike an independent clause, a dependent clause
starts with a dependent word that leaves the sentence hanging. In the above example, this word is after.
The dependent word is known as a subordinating conjunction (SC). A dependent clause must be
paired with an independent clause to achieve its full meaning. The following are Common subordinating
conjunctions: After, although, though, as, because, before, even though, how if, as if, since, so that,
unless, until, what, whatever, when, whenever, where, wherever, whether, whichever, while, who and
whose. The following table provides summary of coordinating conjunctions.

Table of Subordinating

After, As, As soon as, Before, Once, Since, Until, When,

Conjunctions Time

While

Manner

As, As if, As though, Like

Cause and Effect

Although, Though, Whereas, While, Except, That

Condition

Because, In that, Now that, Since, So that

Condition

If, In case, Provided (that), Unless

Purpose

So that, In order that

Comparison

Asas, More than, Less than, Than

There are two methods for creating complex sentences. Both of these methods use subordinating
conjunctions; one puts the independent clause first; the other puts the dependent clause first.
A. Independent Clause + Subordinating Conjunction + Dependent Clause.
Example: I want to proofread my essay before showing it to my LIA.
B. Subordinating + Dependent Clause + Comma + Independent Clause.
Example: Although I am nervous about writing, I think I will do just fine.

4) The compound-complex sentence


A compound-complex sentence is a sentence that contains two or more independent clauses and at least
one dependent (subordinate) clause. (Dependent clauses are enclosed in brackets):
Examples: Compound-complex sentence with an adjective clause:
Great literature, [which challenges the intellect], is sometimes difficult, but it is also rewarding (S P S P.
the Independent clauses is Great literature is sometimes difficult; it is also rewarding
Compound-complex sentence with an adverb clause:
[If the weather is fair], we will go on our camping trip, and I expect to have a great time (SPSP). In this
example the Independent clauses is we will go on our camping trip; I expect to have a great time.
Compound-complex sentence with a noun clause:
She knew [that Frank would not like it], but she took the earlier train (SPSP). The Independent clauses is
She knew that Frank would not like it; she took the earlier train. The following is additional example of
compound complex sentence.
The Great Barrier Reef that lies off the coast of Australia is the largest in the world; the reef off the coast
of Belize is the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

1.2.2 Sentences Classified by Function/Purpose (Kinds of sentences)


The previous classification of sentences in this unit describe how you construct your sentences, but this
last set describes why you have written the sentences. Most sentences which you write should simply state
facts, conjunctures, or arguments, but sometimes you may want to give commands or ask questions.
1. The Declarative Sentence
This is the most important type of sentence, because most sentences are declarative sentences. You
can and often will write entire essays or reports using only declarative sentences, and you should always
use them far more often than any other type. A declarative sentence makes a statement. A declarative
sentence simply states a fact or argument, without requiring either an answer or reaction from the reader.
You punctuate your declarative sentences with a period.
Example: Ottawa is the capital of Canada.
2. The Interrogative Sentence

An interrogative sentence asks a direct question and always ends in a question mark. Example:

Who can read this, and not move?

How did you find Mekelle University?

How many roads must a man walk-down?

Does money grow on trees?

Note that an indirect question does not make a sentence interrogative:


Direct/Interrogative
When was Lester Pearson prime minister?
Indirect/Declarative
I wonder when Lester Pearson was prime minister.
A direct question requires an answer from the reader, while an indirect question does not.
3. The Imperative Sentence

An imperative sentence gives a command someone. This type of sentence can end either with a
period or with an exclamation mark, depending on how forceful the command is.
Example:
Sit!

Read this book for tomorrow.


You should not usually use an exclamation mark with the word please.
Example: Wash the window!
Please wash the window.
4. The Exclamatory Sentence

An exclamatory sentence, or exclamation, expresses strong feeling. It is simply a more forceful


version of a declarative sentence, marked at the end with an exclamation mark. Note that an
exclamation mark can also appear at the end of an imperative sentence.
Example: The butler did it!
How beautiful this river is!
You can often turn a declarative, interrogative, or imperative sentence into an exclamatory
only by changing the period or question mark to an exclamation mark.
Example: It is a fine landmark.
See it soon.

It is a fine landmark!

See it soon!

Generally, the following diagram presents the classification of sentences.

Sentence

Structure

Compound-complex
Simple

compound

Summary questions
A. Identifying Clauses

complex

Function/Purpose

interrogative exclamatory
declarative imperative

Identify the sentence parts named in the parentheses. Write the sentence parts on the line.
1. Before the Spanish conquered Peru, the Incas had built a walled city called
Machu Picchu; this tour visits the ruins of that city.
(simple subject and verb of the first independent clause) ________________________________
(simple subject and verb of the second independent clause) ______________________________
2. The Grand Canyon is a stunning sight, but Yosemite National Park also hasmany impressive features
that you will never forget.
(simple subject and verb of the first independent clause) ________________________________
(simple subject and verb of the dependent clause) _____________________________________
3. New Orleans is known for its lively French Quarter, and visitors who have an interest in history will
enjoy a tour of the historic sites.
(simple subject and verb of the dependent clause) ______________________________________
(simple subject and verb of the second independent clause) ______________________________
B. Identifying Kinds of Sentences
Exercise Identify each sentence below with CD for compound, CX for complex, or CD-CX for
compound-complex.
1. Stay a little longer if you like. __________________________________________________
2. Although my dog can play the piano, he does not do it well, and nobody asks him for encores.
_____________________________________________________________________________
3. After the last song, the musicians packed up their instruments and got on the bus.__________
4. No one should ride on a motorcycle unless he or she wears a helmet. ____________________
5. Ill go if I can, but several events are scheduled for that day. ___________________________
6. Spring came and went quickly, but I was ready for summer. ____________________________
7. When you called, I was reading a book; now I cant find my place. ______________________
Exercise
With a partner or on your own, write five of your own compound-complex sentences in the space
provided. Use the example below to help guide your writing. After you are finished, write one of your
sentences on the board. As a group, we will determine if they are, in fact, compound-complex sentences.
Example: Begin with two independent clauses:
The team captain jumped for joy. The fans cheered.
Then combine the independent clauses to form a compound sentence:
The team captain jumped for joy, and the fans cheered.
Now, add a dependent clause to your compound sentence to create a compound-complex sentence.
The team captain jumped for joy, and the fans cheered because we won the state championship.

OR
When we won the state championship, the team captain jumped for joy, and the fans cheered.
For more practice, choose a passage from a book, newspaper, or magazine you are reading. Identify
compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. By understanding how other writers use these
types of sentences, you can improve your ability to craft your own compound-complex sentences.

Compound-Complex Sentences (Revision)


A. Identifying Clauses
In each compound-complex sentence below, draw parentheses around each independent clause and
underline each dependent clause.
1. A tourist attraction that also has practical importance is the Panama Canal; both cruise ships and
freighters pass through it daily.
2. Is the Sears Tower in Chicago still the tallest building in the world, or have any buildings that have
gone up recently taken that honor?
3. When the last tsar of Russia was arrested by revolutionaries, he and his family were hiding at a palace
near St. Petersburg; now that palace is open to tourists.
4. Mount Fuji in Japan has become so popular with tourists that crowding has become a real problem, but
I would still like to travel there.
5. You can take a large cruise ship to see the glaciers of Alaska, or you can ride a smaller boat that can go
closer to the coast and its icy covering.
6. Id like to see the North Pole, but I will never go where it is that cold!
B. Identifying Kinds of Sentences
Identify each sentence below with S for simple, CD for compound, CX for complex, or CD-CX for
compound-complex.
1. My aunt has joined an investment club that investigates and buys stocks, and
She has made a little profit already.
2. The Great Barrier Reef forms a natural breakwater for the coast of northeast
Australia and attracts tourists from all over the world.
3. Just thinking is not enough; you must think of something.
4. We had gone only a little way into the cave before our flashlight went out.
5. Although snow was predicted, the temperature has stayed above freezing, so rain is falling instead.
6. Is the universe expanding, or is it contracting?
7. After the holiday dinner is over, my brother washes dishes and I dry them. ________
8. The last car of the poky old freight train is just now coming into view. ________

9. Everyone who saw the movie has liked it, so Im going tonight.
10. We tried hard, but the job was harder than we expected.
A. Identifying Kinds of Sentences
Identify each sentence below with S for simple, CD for compound, CX for complex, or CD-CX for
compound-complex.
1. San Francisco is built on hills, and some of the streets are quite steep.
2. Because almost all parts of Hawaii are almost always cooled by winds, visitors rarely complain about
the heat.
3. In Florida, if you arent a fan of amusement parks, you can explore the Everglades, or you can go to the
beaches, which are a fine place to relax.
4. Visitors to Pennsylvania can explore historic sites of the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge or of the
Civil War at Gettysburg.

1.3 Sentence Errors (Faulty Sentences)


1) Subject-verb agreement
The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural
verb. But errors in subject-verb-agreement occurs in writing either because students forget this general
principle or fail to identify the two subjects in a sentence.
Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. In order to determine which verb is singular
and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use
with they. Example: talk and talks.
Rule 1.
Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb.
Example: My aunt or my uncle is arriving by train today.
Rule 2.
Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb as in Rule 1.
Examples: Neither Juan nor Carmen is available.
Either Kiana or Casey is helping today with stage decorations.
Rule 3
Use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.

Example: A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

Rule 4
Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not.
Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.
Examples: The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.

Rule 5
The pronouns each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody are
singular and require singular verbs. Do not be misled by what follows of.
Examples: Each of the girls sings well.
Every one of the cakes is gone.
NOTE: Everyone is one word when it means everybody. Every one is two words when the meaning
is each one.

Rule 6
The words here and there have generally been labeled as adverbs even though they indicate place. In
sentences beginning with here or there, the subject follows the verb.
Examples: There are four hurdles to jump.
There is a high hurdle to jump.

2) Misplaced Modifiers
A misplaced modifier refers a phrase, clause, or word placed too far from the noun or pronoun it
describes. As a result, the sentence fails to convey your exact meaning. But misplaced modifiers usually
carry a double wallop: They often create confusion or imply something unintentionally funny. This is not
a good thing when you want to make a competent impression with your writing. Generally, this error
occurs when the modifier and the modified noun are detached. Here's an example of a misplaced
modifier:
They bought a puppy for my sister they call Fido.
As this sentence is written, it means that the sister, not the puppy, is named Fido. That's because the
modifier they call Fido is in the wrong place in the sentence. To correct a misplaced modifier, move the
modifier as close as possible to the word or phrase it is describing. Here's how the sentence should read:
They bought a puppy they call Fido for my sister.
Example: Sentence #1: The patient was referred to a psychologist with several emotional problems.

What the writer thinks says: The patient has emotional problems.
What the sentence really says: The psychologist has emotional problems.
Correction: The patient with several emotional problems was referred to a psychologist.
Sentence #2: Sam found a letter in the mailbox that doesn't belong to her.
What the writer thinks says: Sam found a letter that doesn't belong to her.
What the sentence really says: The mailbox doesn't belong to Sam.
Correction: Sam found a letter that doesn't belong to her in the mailbox.

3. Dangling Modifiers and How to Correct Them


A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence. This
occurs when students use a modifier excluding the noun that it is intended to modify. It, thus, is an idle
modifier. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept.
Example: Having finished the assignment, Jill turned on the TV.

"Having finished" states an action but does not name the doer of that action. In English
sentences, the doer must be the subject of the main clause that follows. In this sentence, it is Jill.
She seems logically to be the one doing the action ("having finished"), and this sentence
therefore does not have a dangling modifier. The following sentence has an incorrect usage:
Having finished the assignment, the TV was turned on.
"Having finished" is a participle expressing action, but the doer is not the TV set (the subject of the main
clause): TV sets don't finish assignments. Since the doer of the action expressed in the participle has not
been clearly stated, the participial phrase is said to be a dangling modifier.

Strategies for revising dangling modifiers:


1. Name the appropriate or logical doer of the action as the subject of the main clause:
Example: Having arrived late for practice, a written excuse was needed.
Having arrived late for practice, the team captain needed a written excuse.
2. Change the phrase that dangles into a complete introductory clause by naming the doer of the action in
that clause:
Example: Without knowing his name, it was difficult to introduce him.

Because Maria did not know his name, it was difficult to introduce him.
3. Combine the phrase and main clause into one:
Example: To improve his results, the experiment was done again.
He improved his results by doing the experiment again.

4. Faulty Parallelism
Faulty parallelism occurs when the elements put into pairs and series "go in different directions" because
they do not have the same form. Fault in parallelism happens when language elements (structure) before
and after conjunctions are not proportional in their grammatical structure. In other words, nouns should be
coordinated with nouns, verbs with verbs, adjectives with adjectives, adverbs with adverbs, phrases with
phrases, and clauses with clauses. To check for faulty parallelism it is often useful to underline or
otherwise mark parallel (coordinate) elements.
Example: WRONG: He liked to play basketball and riding horses.
RIGHT: He liked playing basketball and riding horses.
He liked to play basketball and to ride horses
He liked to play basketball and ride horses.
Sometimes a sentence that is not technically incorrect could still be improved by making coordinate
elements more precisely parallel. In the following example, the coordinate elements are both adverbial,
so in a sense they are parallel, but one is a simple adverb, while the other is an adverbial prepositional
phrase. The sentence is not exactly wrong, but it is clumsy, and the strict parallelism of the second
version is tighter and more effective.
CLUMSY: I outlined the letters slowly and with care.
BETTER: I outlined the letters slowly and carefully.
The best way to recognize what is wrong with such sentences and what needs to be done to fix them is to
read them aloud. Many, perhaps even most, such errors could be avoided altogether if the writer would
simply take the time to actually read what he writes.

5. Sentence Fragment
As the name implies, a fragment sentence is a partial sentence which is written as if it were a
complete sentence. It either lacks a crucial element such as a subject or verb, or it includes a
subordinating conjunction. Fragments in writing sentences usually occur when a sentence is
prematurely brought to an end and a new sentence unnecessarily started. This new sentence very

often begins with a conjunction such as although, if, however, but, etc., and is in fact a dependent
clause which needs the other part of the sentence to make sense.
Fragments also occur when a non-finite clause is made into a simple sentence. For example:
Considering the complexities of the application procedure.
is not a sentence. The participle considering by itself does not indicate tense; we do not know if
the writer is referring to the past, present or future. This non-finite clause needs an additional
finite clause in order to make sense.
Considering the complexities of the application procedure, it is surprising how many
people do apply for a loan.
6. Run-on Sentences
This problem is created when a sentence consist of two complete sentences without any
separating punctuation mark or linking device between them. Sentences of this type have at least
two parts, where all of them are independent clauses, but the two parts have been merged
together instead of being properly connected. The length of a sentence has nothing to do with
whether a sentence is a run-on or not; being a run-on is a structural flaw that can plague even a
very short sentence:
It is raining, take your umbrella.
When you use a comma to connect two independent clauses, it must be accompanied by a
conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor, yet, so).
Example: It is raining, so take your umbrella.
Run-on can have three features:
a. Comma splice: This is an error which occurs when two sentences are separated by
comma rather than period or semicolon. Example:
Helen and Girma are going Awassa, they are very excited.
b. When two or more sentences are joined without any punctuation: Consider the
following example:
Many economists have debated on economic issues they could not reach on
consensus.

c. When comma is omitted before coordinating conjunction: It is erroneous to use


coordinating conjunctions without comma to bind two or more independent clauses
together. Example:
Jemal and Seifu need to take notes from the written report on their trip to
Lalibela but they plan to have fun any more.
Run-on sentences can be corrected by using one of the following methods:
a. separate the two independent clauses using period, and capitalize the first letter of the
first word of the second independent clause.
b. Separate the two independent clauses using semicolon.
c. Join the independent clauses with comma followed by coordinating conjunctions.
d. Convert on of the independent clauses to dependent clause and separate the clauses with
comma.
7. Tense Shift
Tense shift is the problem of jumping from one tense to another. Example:

We finished our meal and then he turns to me and asks if I minded paying.

I played football before I decide to do some homework.

8. Wordiness
This refers the use of too many and overloading words in a sentence. It is an extravagant or
uneconomical use of words. The extra words smother the meaning. A writer with a sharp eye can
spot excess words and delete them during revision of the work.
Example:
1. Wordy: Hilina is of the opinion that the death penality should be allowed.
Revised: Hilina believes in the death penality.
2. Wordy: I would like to say that my subject in this paper will be how my father was a generous
person.
Revised: My father was generous.
1.4 Diction

Diction, in its original and primary meaning, refers to the writers or the speakers distinctive vocabulary
choices and style of expression. It has multiple concerns; register words being either formal or informal
in social context is foremost. For example:
To a friend: a screw-up
To a child: a mistake
To the police: an accident
To and employer: on oversight

1.5 Sentence Variety


The most important thing you will derive from using a variety of sentence types is the shifts in
tone that will result. Variety of sentence structure and type liberates your text from the
monotone. varying the sentences of a text in their length, structure as well as purpose will keep
us from driving our readers crazy and bored.
In your writing, your aim should be to use a variety of sentences.
Short simple sentences grab the readers attention and add emphasis.
Compound sentences can emphasize balance and parallel ideas.
Complex sentences show what information depends on what other information.

UNIT TWO
THE WRITING PROCESS
2.1 The Writing Anxiety
As the job of writing is tougher than other skills, students feel anxiety. They may feel anxiety
overwhelming if the paper is difficult or important. Though a moderate anxiety is a friendly
feature of our psychological makeup but if it is left un-attended, it might paralyze or hamper the
performance of the writer. Anxiety or apprehension is an emotional state plagues students and
professionals alike, regardless of their writing ability. In other words, it is a feeling of
indifference or pessimism towards writing that results in putting off the assignment. By
understanding the source of writing anxiety and utilizing problem-solving and coping strategies,
writers can counteract this anxiety.

The causes for writing anxiety can be difficulty to understand assignments and prompts, external
stress factors, negative previous writing experiences, bad relationships with instructors or
readers, the requirement to follow strict formulas like grammar, paragraphing, diction, etc, and
fear to failure.
The good news is that there are ways to restore writing equilibrium and get down to writing.
Here are some strategies to help students unlock their writing talents.
2.2 Strategies for Handling Writing Anxiety
1. Have a positive attitude towards the assignment and the topic of writing.
2. Understand the writing context and instructions. Besides understand the protocols of writing
such as process writing, writing effective sentences and avoiding faulty sentences.
3. Know the subject well.
2.3 Pre-writing Techniques
Preparing to write can encompass three remarkable elements, namely having the right attitude,
interest and knowing the subject well.
After choosing the topic that you know, the next step should be searching for possible ways of
getting ideas down on the paper. You have to take time to spotlight your thought to generate
ideas which will be organized into the skeleton of composition. This procedure can be utilized at
nay time during writing process as far its focus is dominantly on generating idea that will be
reused during potential writing. Prewriting techniques include selecting a topic, narrowing the
topic, brainstorming, clustering, free-writing and asking journalistic questions.
1. Selecting a Topic
A text (paragraph or essay) is a group of sentences that give information about a topic.
Therefore, you start writing, you should choose a topic for your writing.

Choose a topic that is not too narrow (limited). A narrow topic will not have enough
ideas to write about.

Choose a topic that is not too broad. A broad topic will have too many ideas for just one
paragraph or essay of limited paragraphs.

2. Narrowing the Topic


Narrow the topic by choosing one aspect of the topic to discuss.

For example: School is too broad. There are thousands of things you could say about it. You can
narrow this as:

secondary schools in my country

popular school clubs

university entrance exams.

3. Brainstorming/Listing
Brainstorming is an abrupt inspiration of ideas. The writer makes use of this scheme to first get
his/her thought down on the paper either in phrase or word form and then scan the association
among them for potential writing. Brainstorming has paramount significance to provide
examples that will further build up composition in progress. It is a process of generating a lot of
information within a short time.
1. Start with the key word of your title.
2. For predetermined period of time, write all the thought that this key word brings to your
mind either in a word or phrase form.
3. Write a list of all associations you can think of during time period.
N.B. Never judge these preliminary thoughts and try to correct them. Feel free and inhabited in
your thinking since you will have sufficient time to look over what you have written and make a
decision on what is useful and not.
4. Clustering
As it can be conceptualized from the term itself, clustering is making group or association among
things, ideas, concepts, etc. It is sometimes called mapping/mind mapping. So, clustering is the
technique which is often used to make connections among ideas so as to install visual map of the
thoughts about the topic prior to starting writing the actual paper. To cluster,
1. start by writing a key word from your topic at the middle of the page, and draw a circle
around it.
2. draw a line from the circle and write ideas associated with the topic. Circle these ideas
again and draw another line and write more ideas associated to it.
3. continue this process until you cannot think of other ideas or reach present time limit.
The result will look a web on your page. In using cluster you will be able to distinguish how the
ideas fit together, especially where there is an abundance of ideas. It also lets you see your ideas

visually in a different way, so that you can more readily understand possible directions your
paper may take.
5. Free-writing
As the word itself implies, free-writing can simply be defined as writing without stopping. It is
writing whatever comes to your mind without perturbing about whether the ideas make sense or
grammatically precise. It is analogous with brainstorming since the center of attention is only on
generating ideas that will be exploited to write the actual text. The deference is we write
continuously either in the form of sentence or partial sentence in free-writing while phrase or
word form is utilized in the case of brainstorming. Free-writing involves filling pure paper with
junks of ideas that will be refined and reused to prose the final version of your paper. It forces
you to write so quickly that you are unable to edit any of your ideas.
6. Asking Journalistic Questions
This technique engrosses asking yourself as many wh-questions as possible, such as who, how,
what, when, where, why, which, whom, etc., to produce ideas that will be used to note down the
first draft. This system is highly indispensable to view your topic from different perspectives
since each question raises different issues about the same topic.
2.4 Outlining
This is the step where you organize your ideas. After generating ideas by using one of the above
prewriting techniques, the next step should be screening out significant ideas and ordering them
so as to use as road map to craft the first draft. Outlining is a blue print which can serve as a
guide to write the firsthand paper. It shows the organization of your essay. It also tells which
idea(s) will come first, second and so on, and ends with the essays conclusion. In other words,
outline is the skeleton of your essay. To show how the ideas work together, number them. You
can use roman numbers for your essays major ideas and Arabic numbers for the minor or
specific ideas. It can be either formal or informal. Generally, outlining is devising a plan for a
paragraph.
Formal outline is the arrangement of all major and specific ideas using fundamentals of
formality such as Roman numbers, uppercase English alphabet, Arabic number, and lowercase
English alphabet. It is formal because it engages the use of the above basics.

Informal, as the term itself implies, is the rough list of major and some main supporting ideas. It
is informal since it doesnt engage using elements such as roman numbers and English alphabets.
As a principle, outlining involves identifying major and minor ideas. Always minor ideas must
be written under major ideas with indented space.
Example: I. Features of advancement
1. Better job opportunity
2. Improved standard of living
3. Higher quality of education
4 More access to health care.
II
2.5 Drafting, Editing, Proofreading and Rewriting
a. Drafting
Drafting is the first phase in writing the actual paper. It is similar with free-writing except it
involves using outline as a guide. It is writing freely without worrying about content,
organization and language errors such as spelling, punctuation, capitalization. The center of
attention is largely on getting ideas down on the paper rather than striving for grammatical
accuracy since there are other steps to think about accuracy.
b. Editing
Editing involves revising and reviewing. In order to edit, you need to read your paper again. It
focuses on correcting content and organization errors, and grammatical problems. This is the
most important stage at which you look at the overall content of the paper and judge the
effectiveness of your argument. Of course, you can still add new ideas if you think of something
else while you are reading your first draft. During editing you have to focus on the following
tasks:

Add idea to support your thesis

Cut irrelevant ideas

Replace parts you have cut

Move material around

c. Proofreading
This is reading for the last time to grasp errors which were not observed while reviewing and
revising. It is advisable for you to take time at this stage since you will have room to see your

paper with new eyes. Letting others read your paper before submitting is also vital since different
people see things from different perspectives.
Proofread your final draft several times, putting as much time between the last two readings as
possible. Fresh eyes catch more typographical or careless errors. Remember that typing errors
even the simple transposing of letterscan change the meaning of an entire thought and
occasionally bring unintended humor to your prose.
d. Rewriting
This is the final stage of your essay. Write your distilled and refined essay with the appropriate
margins and clear handwriting so that your reader will not get difficulty to read your essay.