Writing Summary

Writing Strategies

Planning Guide: foundation work for writing

writing pyramid

Before your pen touches the paper do the foundation work (or fingers touch the keyboard)

  • brainstorm
  • organize thoughts
  • write a rough draft
  • edit 1
  • redraft
  • edit 2
  • write a final draft


Focus Topic: detecting a reasonable amount as a topic

magnifying glass

Focusing Steps  

  1. Take a broad subject and narrow it.
  2. Determine your research question (controlling idea)
  3. Create your thesis sentence (topic + controlling idea)


Topic / Thesis: creating your thesis sentence

Sherlock with magnifying glass

Your thesis sentence:  

  • focuses and directs the essay
  • includes the topic and your attitude or opinion about it
  • includes a statement (not a question)
  • appears at the end of the introduction (usually, but may be anywhere within the introduction)

It never:  

  • announces itself:  "I'm going to talk about . . ."
  • personalizes:  "I think…" 
  • questions:   "Is English hard to learn?"

Introductions: writing four types

Story telling

An introductions should:   

  • introduce the topic
  • indicate how the topic is going to be developed.  (cause-effect, reasons, examples -- Will it classify, describe, narrate or explain?)
  • contain a thesis statement
  • be inviting and entice the reader to continue after reading the first sentence

Spatial Organization: narrating your story effectively

Revealing story

Add entertainment to your writing by considering:  

  • how you will reveal details
  • the order in which you will reveal them
  • spatial and time organization

Grammar Disputes

Grammar Disputes: fifteen grammatical mistakes you should never ever make—really?

A grammarian vs. a linguist


There is a persistent belief that it is improper to begin a sentence with and. But this prohibition has largely been ignored.

This is a crime away with which you cannot get!

Less people are using conventional grammar each year.

Plagiarism & Fair Use



Plagiarism: strategies for avoiding plagiarism

photo line-up


Plagiarism is using the ideas and writings of others and representing them as your own.

Strategies for avoiding plagiarism:

  • Quote it.
  • Paraphrase it.
  • Cite it.


Plagiarism Examples: identifying plagiarized work

rat smelling a can

"I smell a rat!"

Identifying plagiarized work isn't so hard. See if you can "smell a rat".

Citing Sources

Citing Sources: What is MLA Style?

Author (hitchcock)



  • Your instructor does not expect you to be the genius who creates all original ideas.
  • When putting together (synthesizing) other people's ideas in your work, give the people credit by citing their work.
  • Choose a style (MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, Associated Press, etc.)  and use it consistently .


DragDrop-Practices: MLA Citation –practice arranging elements into proper order

screen shot of practice

Publisher     Year     Author     Title    Location  

Drag and drop the images into the correct order.

Requires a Flash Player (not available to iphone or ipad.)

Web Page Evaluation Criteria

Web Page Evaluation Criteria: separating fact from fiction

yin-yangCan you trust information you find on the Internet?

Apply critical thinking skills.

Examine the following on a web page:

  • coverage
  • authority
  • objectivity
  • accuracy
  • currency

Evaluate three web sites as authoratative resources.