The Whole and Its Parts

Effective organization requires you to see your subject as a whole and as a system of interrelated parts. As you move from a broad overview to a  look at an individual detail, you need to see, and let your reader see, how the two levels are related. Consider, for instance, a deck of playing cards. Fresh out of the box and wrapped in cellophane, it seems to be one single thing. Strewn randomly about the floor, each card is individual, complete, yet part of a larger system. And of course each card has parts—a front and a back, markings for suit and number.

Read more ...

The Editing Process

Producing a clean, error-free final draft isn't easy. Even the most carefully edited professional publications contain occasional typos. Most readers understand this and aren't bothered by such infrequent problems. Yet when errors occur often, they undermine the writer's authority and disrupt communication.

Read more ...

The Writer's Voice

Style refers to the ways in which we consciously or unconsciously reveal ourselves in our writing, and it should be tailored to the specific situation that prompts the writing.

Read more ...

Following a Metaphor

A metaphor makes a comparison, and in doing so shapes our perception. If we say, "Time is a river," we're noting a certain similarity between the two. Yet we know they aren't identical. We may mean that time is fluid, has currents and eddies, empties into some vast ocean, but not that it's composed of water. If we say, "Time is a stone," we may mean it's silent, still, indifferent, but not that it's a mineral.

Read more ...

A Learning Cycle

As you begin to identify key issues and problems for further exploration, you may wish to consider the learning cycle model below. It is based on the work of the French learning theorist, Jean Piaget.

Read more ...

Stating your Proposition

Sensing your argument's overall scope and direction, you can consider stating your main point. As you do, however, remember that your writing process has barely begun. You don't yet need a final proposition statement for your finished paper, but one to point you forward and help focus your efforts.

Read more ...

Occasions for Thesis/Support Essays

Thesis/support essays convey a central idea clearly and succinctly. Because thesis/support essays open up and expand upon a single main point, they're suited to short reports, position papers, and critical analyses. Because they can, with practice, be written quickly, they're also handy for essay exams and letters of application or recommendation. As you become familiar with them, you'll no doubt see other uses.

Read more ...