ENGL102 - Week 3


The Writing Process

Writing is a process that has a number of steps or cycles to it. In the last unit we focused on generating ideas, summarizing ideas, and using reflection. In this unit we will focus on the development of effective paragraphs that have unity, writing that includes an opening, body, and closing paragraphs, and revising and editing our writing.

Effective Paragraphs

Let’s start with the development of effective paragraphs:

Effective paragraphs have a number of characteristics:

  • Unity – this means that the paragraph has one, and only one, main idea.
  • Topic Sentence – this sentence states the main idea of the paragraph, it may be the first sentence, the last sentence, or somewhere in the middle. This sentence clarifies for the reader what the paragraph is about.
  • Adequate Development – supply enough information to make the point clear. Give the reader enough supporting details to make the main point clear, but don’t overwhelm them with too much information.
  • Organization – readers should be able to easily follow the flow of information in the paragraph.

Many different strategies can be used to organize:
  • Time sequence – the order in which things happened
  • Space sequence – how things are related
  • Process analysis – what are the steps or components of the process
  • Comparison – the two sides of a point or the pros and cons of the point
  • Definition – what it means and how is it applied
  • Coherence coherent writing flows smoothly from one point to the next. It shows relationships among sentences and paragraphs.

Paragraphs and Special Functions:

Introductions – an opening paragraph that introduces the reader to the main point of the writing. It also sets the tone of the rest of the writing. First impressions are lasting, so this is where you want to get the reader’s attention.

There are many strategies that can be used in the opening, these include:

  • Definition – this is an appropriate way to start when the topic is unfamiliar to the reader.
  • Directly stated main point – this is very common to quickly orient the reader to what will follow.
  • Quotation – using something from an authority in the field may catch the audience’s attention.
  • Anecdote or personal experience – catches reader’s interest because we all like to hear personal details.
  • Question – a provocative question can entice the reader to continue on.
  • Transitional Paragraphs – shift from one group of ideas to another group of ideas. May summarize previous ideas and then lead into the next.
  • Conclusions – this rounds out the paper and ties everything together.


Some cautions:
  • Don’t introduce new material
  • Don’t just tack on an ending to get it done
  • Don’t apologize
  • Don’t moralize – don’t get preachy


Strategies that can be used:
  • Restatement of the main point
  • A Summary that draws together the main point
  • A Question to prompt the reader to continue to think about a topic
  • A Quotation to capture the essence of your thought
  • Surprising observation to keep the reader thinking
  • Hope or Recommendation to suggest actions that could be taken


The Process of REVISION

The first draft of a written document is just that, a draft. One should always plan on the need to revise even the simplest written piece. The process of revision deals with the content of the writing, not the grammar, mechanics, spelling etc. Here are some steps to take before tackling the revision process:

1. Set the draft aside – come back to it later.

2. Write down your purpose and the audience

3. Jot down any phrases or thoughts that came to you while writing

4. Now, read the writing at least 3 times

a. To improve the overall writing

b. To improve paragraph structure

c. To sharpen sentences

FACT as a revision tool

Fit. Ask yourself first whether the whole essay FITS together, presenting a central point for a specific audience.

1. Have you delivered what the thesis statement promises?

2. First drafts often include paragraphs, or even larger sections, that have little bearing on the main point.

3. Is it all geared towards the same audience?

Add. Have you left out some essential material?

1. Ask yourself – do I need more information?

2. Add the appropriate sentences / paragraphs.

Cut. Is there material that is not necessary?

1. We can sometimes repeat ourselves.

2. Cut away the extra material.

3. Revising could involve both adding and cutting.

Test. Test the organization of your essay.

1. Text should flow smoothly from point to point.

2. Outline your major and minor points

3. Check for logic and completeness.

4. Note the progression of the essay.

5. Check the transition points.

Proofreading and Editing

Once the revision process is complete, then you should proofread your document to correct errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofreading is essential for a good document because errors can detract from your message and your credibility.


Reinking, J. A. & Von Der Osten, R. (2014) Strategies for successful writing: A rhetoric, research guide, reader, and handbook, Tenth Edition. New York: Pearson.