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Student Success Centre Workshop: Pre-Writing

Scott J. Wilson, SSC Writing Services Coordinator
by

Scott J. Wilson

on 28 March 2016

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Transcript of Student Success Centre Workshop: Pre-Writing

Pre-Writing
Writing requires the establishment of “an inventory of basic moves” (Graff and Birkenstein).
Stephen King calls this a
Writer's Toolbox
Like anything,
repetition is key
to being successful.
Malcolm Gladwell
has determined that 10,000 hours is the number required to be great at anything (The Beatles, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods).
“The underlying structure of effective academic writing resides not just in stating our own ideas but in
listening
closely to others around us,
summarizing
their views in a way that they will recognize, and
responding
with our own ideas in kind” (Graff and Birkenstein in
They Say/I Say
).

Remember: 1.
Listen
(read) 2.
Summarize
and
analyze
in your own words/technique 3.
Respond
with your own original ideas

Ultimately, academic writing is argumentative writing.
An Academic Writing Mindset: Write with Conviction (and practice a lot)
Your Ideas as a Response to Others
Disagreeing
with others leads to controversy (which is what we want in an academic discourse). Make sure you give reasons for your disagreement, not just that you do.
Also, when you
agree, say why you do.

Making statements nobody can disagree with leads to “flat, lifeless writing and for writing that fails to answer the
‘so what?’
and
‘who cares’ questions”
(Graff and Birkenstein 2012).
Critical Reading and Writing

As the
Taylor Mali
“Speak with Conviction” video suggests, we have lost our way in terms of expressing how we really feel. We try not to insult people; we play it safe and that is boring. 
Have
intellectual courage
.
Take pride in
your point of view
. Repeating the ideas of someone else will not lead to success or fulfillment.
Finding Your Place in the Discussion
Make sure you are
genuinely responding to another point of view
instead of just providing a list of observations about a given subject.

You need to make and sustain an argument in order to convince your reader that
your viewpoint is significant.

In academic writing, you need to treat your writing like a
conversation
.
Acknowledging the opinions of others adds
legitimacy
to your argument, but also makes it more
complex and informed.
It may not feel like it in today’s political atmosphere, but
debate
can still exist.
Even if you believe they are wrong, you can
learn from differing ideologies
and opinions so don't disregard other perspectives.
Why acknowledge others?
Questions?
Scott J. Wilson
Student Success Centre Writing Services

Introduction to Academic Writing: Part One
Be A Good Listener (Reader)
You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about…
You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument, then you put in your oar.
Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you
…The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.
Kenneth Burke suggests treating academia like a never-ending conversation at a party
.
Arguments will take many forms in academic writing, but central to all argumentative writing is the
thesis statement.

A thesis poses a problem that will be explored throughout the paper. The thesis is a one or two sentence condensation of your analysis that will follow. It is a debatable point that you will prove through writing.

A thesis has two main parts:
1. A
claim
: a debatable point you will prove is correct and/or worth proving.
2. A
reason
: why the claim is true and/or why it matters (what we learn if the claim is correct).
Developing an Argument
An effective thesis:

1. Takes a stand

2. Creates debate/discussion

3. Expresses one main idea

4. Is specific
Quality, Not Quantity
Ultimately, blood in
Fight Club

is positive. Instead, it demystifies authority and empowers the individual in consumer culture showing the falsity of the American dream.

“The escalation of the Vietnam War during the 1960s was caused primarily by America’s anti-Communist foreign policy” (Avery et al., p. 22). (REASON MISSING HERE)
Some Examples



The writers of
Writing Analytically
recommend that you ask yourself the following questions as you go through the process of generating a thesis:

• What kinds of
patterns
or
implications
emerge when I look closely at my evidence?
• What kind of evidence and support do I need to support my tentative thesis?
• What kind of
evidence cannot be adequately accounted for
by my tentative thesis?
• How can I
explain the mismatches
between my thesis statement and my selected
evidence?
• How can I
rewrite my thesis
statement in order to accommodate the evidence that doesn’t fit? (Y-Dang Troeung 2-3)
Formulating A Thesis
Types of Arguments
• compare/contrast
• evaluation
• interpretation
• reflection
You'll Need Inspiration...
Arguments are a response to stimuli
And many different perspectives exist about the same issue. Consider at least two of those opinions.
What Thesis Statements Result?
Even if you don't read the articles, you have an opinion on whether we need to censor movie violence (or at least an immediate reaction).
What arguments come to mind? What opinion do you have on this subject?
The Student Success Centre Writing Service has tutors that can meet with you to discuss your writing, your assignments etc.
We are open M-R 10-7 and Friday from 10-1

Book online at www.uregina.mywconline.com
scott.j.wilson@uregina.ca
Use an Outline: Make Your Life Easy
From University of Washington Psychology Centre
http://www.psych.uw.edu/psych.php#p=339
We also have an online tutoring option. Email your papers and assignment sheets to
writing@uregina.ca
Like Eating Your Vegetables: Benefits to Scholarly Writing
Why do we write essays, theses, articles and research papers?

To get marks, pass the class, get a degree
To better understand a complicated subject
To improve critical reading and writing skills
To develop proper research skills
"Now, make an outline": Why Should I?
From University of Otago, Student Learning Centre
• Helps to decide the points for discussion.
• Shows how these can be most logically organised.
• Weeds out irrelevant information.
• Identifies overlaps and repetition.
• Further refines the research direction.
• Prompts thinking when it’s difficult to “get into” an assignment.
• Makes it easier to put ideas on paper.
(Graff and Birkenstein 2012)
Full transcript