Fundamentals of Writing

Sometimes books and teachers can make writing seem harder than it really is. While there are several considerations to keep in your mind when you are writing, there is no reason to make written communication a chore.

The process of writing can be simplified into five steps:

  1. prewriting
  2. writing
  3. revising
  4. proofreading
  5. publishing


In the prewriting step, a writer simply gathers together and organizes his thoughts. These are some prewriting techniques that work for many people:

But the prewriting technique I most use is what I call the "Snake Model of Writing." I call it the snake model of writing because each of the major considerations begin with the letter "S."


If you have invested your time wisely in prewriting, the actual writing will not be difficult. Remember your audience. What do they need to know? Why is this topic important to them? Why should they be interested? Keep structure in mind; have a good "attention getter" and a good thesis statement. Use topic sentences. Be specific. Make your writing significant and sufficient. Remember: Quality beats quantity.


No matter how well you write, when you read back over your manuscript, you will find parts that need to be changed. There are three changes you can make to your first draft:

Add, delete, move. You are the real word processor!


Check your spelling, capitalization, punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and pronoun-antecedent agreement--come on; how long can it take! But look what an improvement proofreading can make to your reader's experience. Writing isn't just about you. Your audience should be your main concern! Make reading a pleasure. Making reading easier to follow and to remember. Be nice!


Writing is a form of communication between two people. That means there should be somebody on the other end of the line! If you want to talk to yourself, put it in a diary or a journal.

I am NOT your audience! I have read too much and know too much to be your audience. You are not likely to impress me (though some students have impressed me greatly with their writing ability). Write to your peers. Communicate, not with a gradebook, but with real human beings. This is not a game. Learning to communicate well is serious business. That brings us to class presentations.

Class Presentations

You will read all of your essays aloud to the class. The class will give you feedback, telling you what was effective, what they enjoyed, etc. They can ask you questions. Perhaps some of their questions will indicate that parts of your essay are not complete, or perhaps unclear. After students have responded, I will point out parts of your essay that are good examples for everyone; then, I will make suggestions on how you can improve your writing. Everyone will learn from everyone!