The following reading and practice material focuses on advanced writing strategies:
Most of this material applies both to the paragraph level and to the document level.
- Content (development)
- Structure & organization
- Coherence with topic strings (transitions)
- Topic sentences
Please be aware that at this point I'm just writing the programs. Very little real exercise text/material is in place—just dummy stuff so that I can get the programs to work.
The following discussion and practice exercises are very different from anything out there for the teaching of writing. Well, maybe that's too strong: the material here takes the scant coverage in mainstream rhetorical-and-composition study materials way further than anything I am aware of. To get an overview of what's going on here, read the conceptual introduction available from the link below.
When writing teachers talk about content or development, they are referring to the "stuff" that you put in your documents. Less-developed writers tend to under-develop their writing projects!
It's essential to be able to see the main topics in sentences, paragraphs, and beyond. In this unit, you study groups of sentences to identify where the focus of the discussion changes.
In the previous unit, you saw how to use different kinds of text (for example, description, definition, examples, comparison) to generate good, useful content—not just padding—into your writing. However, understanding and using the concepts of coordination and subordination, presented in this unit, give you a more organized and powerful way of improving a document's content.
When you have developed content, one of the next things you can do is to work on its continuity as express by its topic strings. Topic strings are the way sentences begin and end—their start topics and end topics. You can achieve a surprising amout of continuity in writing simply by manipulating how sequences of sentences begin and end.
Sometimes, reworking topic strings is not enough to achieve good continuity in a paragraph. Sometimes, neither the continuous pattern nor the shifting pattern does enough. That's when transitional words and phrases (for example, however) come in handy. In this unit, you practice identifying the logic connecting sentences and then use that logic to choose transitions in order to strengthen continuity.
If you can identify the topic and focus of a paragraph (covered in preceding units), it's easy to identify, revise, or write topic sentences—when they are needed. This unit gives you practice identifying topic sentences, knowing when they needed or not needed, choosing among the various types of topic sentences, and writing your own.
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