Pre-Writing and Outlining

ICS 139w
Syllabus now available
What is prewriting?
• First stage of the writing process
1. prewriting
2. drafting
3. revising
4. editing
5. publishing
• Prewriting is about figuring out what to write
Why prewrite?
Methods for prewriting
1. Brainstorming
2. Looping (freewriting)
3. Mind-mapping
4. Outlining
• Goal: get as many ideas on paper as possible
• generate first, filter later
• Start with a blank page and write down anything
• Don’t worry if it’s a good idea or not, just get it down
• Once finished, review for good ideas
Brainstorming Exercise
• Individually, brainstorm as many ideas for technological
“systems” as you can
• Topics for Assignment 2
• Can be familiar or unfamiliar
• Software
• an application, a website, a game, etc
• Hardware
• the newest gadget or device, etc
• More abstract "system”
• a network protocol, a socio-technical system, etc
Share with a neighbor!
Pitfalls of Brainstorming
• Group vs. individual brainstorming sessions
• Nominal groups > collocated groups
• Fear of evaluation
• Limited communication channels (blocking)
• Free riding
Looping (freewriting)
• Write down all your thoughts on a subject
• generate first, filter later
• Good for coming up with interesting ideas
• This is prewriting – do not turn in something like this!
• stream-of-consciousness not very effective for technical writing
• A way of generating ideas and beginning to organize them
Start with a topic / important word
Write other important words around it
Connect related items
Group mind-mapping:
• A sequential summary of the document
• Can be formal or informal
Topic 1
A. Item 1
i. detail
ii. detail
B. Item 2
II. Topic 2
A. Item 1
Topic 1
1) idea 1
2) idea 2
-- question ?
potential answer
- other idea
Topic 2
• Can outline at multiple levels of detail
• section-level, paragraph-level, sentence-level
Structure and Organization
• Intro – Body – Conclusion
• 5-paragraph essay
• Others?
• Structure recurses!
• Can have intro, body, conclusion at all levels
• Jump to locations in expository writing
• Table of Contents
• Make point first in persuasive writing
• Or build to a conclusion
• No one correct structure
Example Outlines: Expository writing
• Automatically-generated outline
• What does this outline tell us about the structure?
Example Outlines:
Technical Documentation
• Documentation
• Tutorials
• APIs
Example Outlines: Research Papers
Standard Format:
Related Work
Future Work
Example Outlines: Computer Code!
Headings and Titles
• Outlines  Section Headings
• allows for quick navigation
• helps the reader stay situated
• breaks up the paper
• Titles
• Not always necessary in papers
• Required for some cases
• e.g., web site titles
• Informative and engaging: it’s what people judge your paper by!
• full-sentence titles
Stress-free Outlining
Be comfortable
• Doesn’t have to be perfect initially
• Can outline and change things around without committing
Not a required formal step, but is very helpful
• Can outline almost anything (emails, etc)
• Solution for being understood even while nervous
• Outline can be understood without having to “write”
• (without worrying about the grammar or style elements)
• If understandable, then you’ve already solved half the problem
Homework for Wednesday
• Decide on a system for Assignment 2
• (can use an example from our in-class brainstorming)
• non-specific Facebook is off limits
• Bring in a clean outline (hard copy) for peer editing
• should outline at least to the paragraph level
• does not need to be formal, but should be readable
• Remember to check the assignment instructions!
Peer Editing
• Practice editing papers and responding to others’ writing
• Multiple eyes catch multiple problems
• Get comfortable sharing work with others
Giving Good Feedback
• First rule: be honest and kind
• “looks okay” doesn’t help anyone
• If you react to a paper or something feels wrong, point it out
• Mutual Respect
• Constructive criticism about the text, not the author
• Be pleasant, helpful, and professional
• Also give feedback on writing strengths!
Giving Good Feedback
• Pretend you are the target reader
• e.g.: you are the hiring manager; you are a new system user; etc.
• Don’t rely on your own knowledge or context!
• Give suggestions for fixes and improvements
• Try and figure out WHY something this wrong
• Don’t just look for grammar – editing != proofreading
• Also check organization, argument effectiveness, etc.
• Editing tips apply
• read aloud, look things up, etc
Using Peer Editing
• Pay attention to the feedback from others!
• No one (not even Joel or Dmitri) will catch everything
• edit and edit again; iterate and iterate again
Peer-Editing: Resumes and Cover Letters
• Exchange and edit Resumes/Cover Letters
• Use worksheet as a guide
• Exchange with at least two (2) classmates
• Can also ask Joel or Dmitri to edit, but need two others
• You will need to turn your edit sheets on Wednesday
• (you can use the comments for editing before then)
• Resumes due Tuesday Midnight to EEE Dropbox
• (EEE so you can read my comments!)
• Bring your editing sheets to class on Wednesday to turn in
• Wednesday: bring complete outline for Assignment 2 for
• hard copy so we can see what edits have been made to it.

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