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Writing in Process (Updated Version)

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on 7 February 2017

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Transcript of Writing in Process (Updated Version)

Writing in Process
The University Writing Center
The Learning Commons at PCL
M-Th 10-8; F 10-4
Sun 1-7
The University Writing Center
Anyone enrolled in a UT class
One-on-one expert writing help
45 minute personalized consultations
Any piece of writing at any stage
Diagnostic outside readers
Today's Agenda



University Writing Center
PCL 2.330 - 512-471-6222 - uwc.utexas.edu
Created by Elizabeth Goins and Tom Lindsay
Last updated by Lamiyah Bahrainwala, June 2014
Additional information, writing help, teaching resources, and
online appointment-scheduling
available at:
Writing in
For consultations...
Make an appointment (
at uwc.utexas.edu),
Or walk in.
Be sure to bring...
The writing prompt or assignment description
Your brainstorming notes
Your current draft
Instructor comments
Any other materials related to the piece of writing
Bank of stock frames:
Writing in
What range of topics can I choose from?
Can I develop a topic I care about?
If not, how else can I get invested in this project?
Draft a thesis that helps you and your reader.
How can I use my thesis to delineate or narrow the scope of my topic?
How can I use my thesis to communicate an argument?
Compose a draft.
"Would UT benefit if more students utilized public transportation?"
"UT would benefit if more students utilized public transportation."
How can I use my thesis to establish an organizational game plan for my paper?
"If more students utilized public transportation, UT would benefit economically, socially, and environmentally.
Be a question you answer with your paper,
Design an organizational structure
focus or scope of inquiry
research (or thesis) question
answer to research question
What is my thesis?
What claims do I need to support that thesis?
How many paragraphs does each claim need?
What kinds of evidence do I need to support each claim?
statements that support your thesis
main ideas
statements that summarize the main chunks of your research
answers to your research question(s)
Three goals:
1. Engage your reader and introduce your topic.
2. Deliver your thesis.
3. Deliver an organizational plan.
Tips for composing introductions:
Thesis statements typically come at the end of the introduction.
Thesis statements can be more than one sentence.
Your readers should be able to read your thesis and say to themselves, "This paper will show, argue, explore, etc., X, Y, and Z.
Tips for composing theses:
Body Paragraphs
Three goals:
1. Deliver a claim.
2. Provide evidence for that claim.
3. Provide analysis.
The claim of a paragraph typically comes in the paragraph's topic sentence or at the end of its analysis.
Evidence comes in many forms: quotes, paraphrasing, rich description, data, etc.
Don't allow your sources to drown out your voice: balance quotes and paraphrases; evidence and analysis.
If your thesis is a road map, use transitions as road signs.
Always remember: claim, evidence, analysis.
Tips for composing body paragraphs:
how your evidence supports your claim
Three goals:
1. Restate your thesis.
2. Recap your claims.
3. Answer the "So what?" question.
Recap without repeating.
Use different words.
Summarize and synthesize your claims to demonstrate how they work together to support your thesis.
Tips for composing conclusions:
When readers finish reading a paper, they want to know why that paper is important.
Consider, why should readers spend their time and energy reading your paper?
When answering the "So what?" question, consider questions such as...
Your thesis will probably change in form and/or focus as you go through the creation process.
Writers often free-write or brainstorm socially before arriving at a thesis and/or a list of supporting claims.
Writers also free-write and brainstorm socially in order to overcome writer's block.
Some writers find it difficult to design organizational structures before composing drafts.
These writers often reverse the process, composing very rough drafts that they then re-organize.
Writers often write their introductions and conclusions last.
Be Flexible!
Ask yourself...
Seek out feedback.
Does the thesis match the assignment?
Do the claims support the thesis without going beyond it?
Do evidence and analysis support the claims?
Does each paragraph focus exclusively on one claim?
Do the paragraphs contain transitions?
Do the introduction and conclusion accomplish their three goals?
Does the paper follow the organization laid out in the introduction?
Ask a third party to assess the paper using the questions above.
Other people will notice things about the paper that you will not.
Other people will help you assess the paper in the way your reader will.
Sophisticated writers revise.
Sophisticated writers seek feedback.
And always remember!
Writing in process
Strategies for preparation
Strategies for creation
Strategies for revision
Discussion and questions
Your thesis may...
Be revised as you learn more about your topic,
Or be revised to match what you've written.
Tips for organization
Ease the reader in by providing necessary background or context.
Hook the reader with something relevant and striking, e.g. statistics, an anecdote, etc.
Avoid huge generalizations, e.g. "Since the founding of America..."
We believe that the best writers allow themselves the time and flexibility to move back and forth through their writing processes multiple times before arriving at finished products.
Does my thesis connect with the themes of the class?
Is my thesis relevant to wider societal trends or phenomena?
Does my analysis provide new insight?
Does my research suggest new areas for inquiry?
No writer can create a fully coherent and polished draft in one sitting. So, start early, work often (if only for brief periods of time), and plan to take breaks.
Devote one paragraph to one claim, or to one cluster of closely related claims.
Use multiple paragraphs to flesh out complex claims.
Use your list of claims as an outline.
Though you don't have to compose them in this order, all drafts should contain
an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Make a plan:
When is the paper due and how much is it worth?
How much time and effort can I spend on it?
Assemble your team:
Will your instructor or TA look at drafts? Under what conditions?
Could a UWC Consultant be helpful?
Who is your PCL Research Specialist?
Assess the assignment:
What is this assignment asking me to do?
Look for keywords and specific questions in the assignment prompt.
Who is my audience? What do I know about them?
If you have a choice, develop a topic:
Do preliminary reading in the sources your instructor recommends.
Notice trends, unanswered questions, connections, etc.
Free-write, brainstorm, talk it out.
As you research and write...
might narrow into a
research question
and should eventually transition into a very
specific thesis
"Would UT benefit if more students utilized public transportation?"
"UT would benefit if more students utilized public transportation."
"If more students utilized public transportation, UT would benefit economically, socially, and environmentally."
Topic: Public transportation on university campuses.
Moving from a topic to a research question to a thesis should not necessarily be a smooth process. Reading, researching, and writing are forms of cognition and learning. Expect that your topic, research question, and thesis statement might change in form or focus as you learn more and think differently about your topic.
As you outline or compose your initial drafts...
Answer your thesis question or support your thesis statement with a series of
main claims
. Main claims should do one or more of the following:
In particular, UT will save money on infrastructure repairs and maintenance if more students utilize public transportation.
Synthesize outside research:
Sign-post and transition:
Make sub-arguments:
Research at other major universities has already demonstrated that public transportation use can...
Public transportation will have enormous economic and social benefits for UT, but the greatest benefits by far will in fact be environmental.
Support your main claims in .
Main Claim
An explanation of how the evidence supports the main claim, and how the main claim supports the thesis. In many papers and essays, your analysis will be
the most important
Source material from your research. Remember to be mindful of discipline-specific expectations, and be selective and strategic when integrating your evidence.
Some body paragraphs or whole papers won't need much analysis...
Sign-post paragraphs
Context paragraphs
Report or Summary Papers
summarize what your paper's already said before moving on or preview the content of a new section
explain relevant history or background material in order to frame, contextualize, set-up, or ease readers into more analysis-heavy paragraphs
master a topic and "report back" to your reader or summarize outside sources without analytic comment
Once you've composed your body paragraphs...
Craft your introduction and conclusion, or re-write them to match what you've written.
background, context, or relevant "hook"
organizational game-plan for paper
thesis statement
summarize main claims.
don't introduce new claims,
but do answer the question.
"So what?"
Body Paragraphs
There are many ways to answer the "so what?" question. Ask your instructor, and think: Does my thesis relate to the themes of the class? Have I provided new insight on my topic? What does my research suggest for the rest of the writers interested in my topic? How do my ideas connect to wider societal trends? Etc.

Revise as you write.
Then revise and re-write.

The Big Three Questions:
Does my thesis match all components of the assignment prompt?
Do my claims, evidence, and analysis fully support my thesis without going beyond it?
Do my evidence and analysis fully support my main claims?
"global level" changes to thesis, content, structure, claims, etc.
"local level" changes to grammar, word choice, punctuation, etc.
Some Final Tips:
See more detailed advice on
body paragraphs
, and more at:
uwc.utexas.edu/handouts owl.english.purdue.edu/owl
UWC Consultants
can help you at any stage. Make an appointment at:
Some strategies for
Print the paper. Read it out loud. Have a friend read it out loud. Repeat.
PCL Learning Commons Resources

The Public Speaking Center

UT Librarians by appointment

UT Libraries "Chat with a librarian"

The University Writing Center
Full transcript