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Reading and Writing Ideas As Well As Words

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How the Language Really Works:
The Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing
Reading / Writing
Critical Reading
Inference
Choices
Ways to Read
Grammar

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Invention: Finding Something to Say

Structuring an Ongoing Discussion

Revision: Polishing the Presentation

Advanced Concerns

Tactics and Strategies

The Need to Improve Your Writing

Reading may at times seem simple. Writing, for most people, is often a struggle. We are intimidated by the blank page.  We are frightened by the possibility of mistakes. 

Invention: Finding Something to Say

Writing is, first of all, a process of invention.  We must have something to say.  We must understand our topic and  possess relevant information.  All too many documents fail not for their author's lack of skill in writing, but for their author's lack of anything to say.

Structuring an Ongoing Discussion

Writing requires a facility with the language. Sentences must make sense.  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation must satisfy rules and conventions. 

On a broader level, remarks must follow each other in an orderly fashion. The trip from opening to closing must be as bump free as possible. Done poorly, the path we create leads down rabbit trails and dead ends.  The discussion contradicts itself, offers no evidence or proof for its assertions, or simply roams around without focusing on a single issue—and our message is lost.

Revision: Polishing the Presentation

Writing is also a process of revision. Writers do not simply produce a finished draft in one writing. Writers constantly make choices and evaluate the effect of those choices.  They continually weigh the effects of alternative phrasings, alternative sentence structures, or alternative text structures.

All writing thus involves trial and error. We must edit our work, both in our mindaswe write and on the page or computer monitorafterwe have written an initial draft. 

We must know what we want to accomplish, and be able to recognize whether or not we have achieved that goal. As we write, and re-write, we must adjust the language for optimum effect and constantly assure ourselves of the consistency, coherency, and completeness of the presentation. 

Advanced Concerns

In later years in school and in the professional workplace, our writing must exhibit an element of sophistication.  We must distinguish between similar ideas, draw meaningful distinctions, and weave a convincing argument. 

Finally, in school especially, we must be able to prove not only that we have done the required reading, but also that we have understood that reading at the required level of comprehension. And more often than not, we are graded not on how well we have understood a text, but on how well we convey an understanding in writing. Rightfully or wrongfully, we are judged by what, and how, we write.

Tactics and Strategies

Writing well involves more than simply having something to say and knowing correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Writing also involves an understanding of how ideas can be pieced together to convey broader meaning. And while we can learn much from experience and contact with good examples, we cannot consciously improve our writing without knowing how the language works to convey ideas to readers.

Related Topics
The Need to Improve Your Reading
A Linguistic Approach to Reading and Writing
Choices: The Ingredients of Texts


Reading / Writing
Critical Reading
Inference
Choices
Ways to Read
Grammar

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Dan Kurland's   www.criticalreading.com