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Home Notes for Introduction to Literature Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
Notes for Introduction to Literature
Notes for Basic Writing (ENG 020)
The midterm exam is an opportunity to practice in-class, impromptu writing.
"on the spot" is an important skill-it demonstrates your ability to
think and write on your feet. It's often used as a measurement in other classes
for how well you've mastered particular subject matter because when you can
present your ideas clearly and coherently in a brief essay that's proof of your
Writing in class
under time pressure is quite a bit different from the process you use when you
revise your papers outside of class. A number of things are different when you
write essays in class:
For all of these reasons, it's difficult to write effectively in class. Yet, if you're aware of these differences going in, you can begin to minimize the difficulties by keeping following some of the advice described below.
1. Re-state the
question in thesis form. That way you'll be sure you're on topic. Make your
thesis explicit. If you're asked to take a position, make sure you name that
position in your thesis. (For example: Colleges should abandon the traditional
grading system because it creates an antagonistic atmosphere which inhibits
the learning process.)
2. Blueprint your
answer. Brainstorm, pre-write, cluster-whatever it takes. Don't start writing
until you've jotted down some ideas and examples and sketched an order for presenting
them. In most impromptu essays situations, you won't have enough time to write
the impromptu twice. Planning will help you be successful on the first try.
3. While you're
writing, or even while you're planning, think of specific examples, anecdotes,
and possibly even data (if you've done some reading on the subject in advance)
to back up your assertions. Remember that general assertions result in partial
development. A well developed essay always uses detail to support general points.
4. Leave time and
space for proofreading and editing. Read your draft slowly, pointing to your
words, saying the sentences in your mind to catch awkward structures, missing
words or transitions, and grammatical errors.
5. Don't neglect your conclusion. Even if it's only a few sentences, your essay should sport a concluding paragraph that sums up your position and leaves your reader with your main idea. Many of the strategies that contribute to an effective introduction apply to writing conclusions. You can leave the reader with an interesting, related anecdote, or refer back to an anecdote you mentioned in your introduction, for example.
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