Developing a Paper Using Strategies

After you have discovered and explored your ideas by writing and are satisfied with your content, you can begin organizing your ideas for your reader. The key to well-organized writing is to use a strong thesis statement that suggests a key writing strategy to guide your organization. (You may find it helpful to review the discussion about thesis statements in chapter 2.) We will describe the use of each strategy, the reasoning that guides it, and the details that support it. Any good writing text, such as those listed in appendix A, can give you more details. In this guide, we simply want to acquaint you briefly with this process.

For example, if your assignment calls for you to compare the benefits of one cost-analysis system with another and show how system A is superior to system B, your paper will be organized as a comparison/contrast paper. Your thesis might look like this:

Example of a Comparison/Contrast Thesis

System A is superior to system B in efficiency, in the amount of computational time required, and in ease of understanding, all of which aid training.

A causal analysis assignment might call for you to identify and classify the motives and submotives associated with recidivism among criminal offenders. Your thesis might be:

Example of a Cause-and-Effect Thesis

Recidivism among criminal offenders is caused by five contributing factors: (1) repeated patterns of behavior, (2) lack of institutional training, (3) unstable home conditions, (4) perception that jobs are unavailable, and (5) lack of stringent penalties for repeated crimes.

In this example, the writer might discuss each of the listed causes by defining them, showing their effects, and supporting her opinion with statistics and examples.

This is a good time to review the examples of thesis statements shown in table 2.2 of chapter 2. By realizing that the thinking strategies overlap, you can see for yourself how different thesis statements might yield different thinking and writing strategies. The strategies you use should always be guided by your purpose and your audience. Many of the writing texts listed in appendix A of this guide discuss in greater detail how to develop a paper using a thesis statement.

Your introduction and conclusion frame your writing and give it a sense of connection and resolution. The introduction establishes your idea and purpose, whereas the conclusion affirms your thesis and resolves your thinking process. Acting as a bridge, the middle of the paper expounds and explains your idea and purpose, leading the reader inevitably to the conclusion. For many students, having a clear introduction with its thesis statement and major supporting statements is enough to guide their writing.

With a clear thesis statement to guide you, you can write your introduction, which is one of the key sections of your assignment. Your introduction (1) sets the stage, telling your reader what your thesis is and often what your major supporting statements will be, and (2) suggests the strategy for your writing. Here is an example of an introduction, written from a thesis statement from table 2.2, that does just this.

Example of an Analysis-and-Definition Thesis with Introduction

Thesis statement: Reader-centered writing techniques will make your writing clear, effective, and engaging.

Major supporting statements: Reader-centered writing speaks directly to the reader in a language and style that give him the best chance of hearing the message. Reader-centered writing is clearly organized, with its main ideas easy to find and coherent. Each section moves smoothly to the next. Reader-centered writing uses active voice and strong verbs whose action keeps the reader moving. Finally, reader-centered writing respects the reader, involving her in the content.

The remaining parts of the assignment will explain the thesis, define the listed techniques, give examples of them, and show how using them will make your writing clear, effective, and engaging.

Sometimes, just knowing that paragraphs consist of a topic sentence with its controlling idea, details, reasons, and illustrations is enough to get a student writing.

Example of a Paragraph Using a Topic Sentence, Details, Reasons, and Illustration

Topic sentence with controlling idea: Reader-centered writing is not authoritarian or dictatorial.

Reason: It reflects acceptance of the reader's free will and dignity.

Detail: For the reader-centered author, writing becomes a way to transfer information while serving the reader's needs.

Reason: It is not a “dumbing down,” but an honest, straightforward way to present complex ideas and requests in a simple and painless way.

Detail with reason: Writing this way often takes more effort than conventional writing because it emphasizes service and the building of relationships.

Illustration: Using you to address your readers makes them the center of the message and tells them that the message is for them, thus eliminating the distance between writer and reader.

Here is a possible conclusion for this hypothetical assignment:

Example of a Conclusion

Reader-centered writing techniques build communication relationships between the writer and the reader. They bridge the gap between business and customer and ensure that your message clearly and effectively serves the customer.

This conclusion actually synthesizes the discussion of specific writing techniques with their results—building effective communication relationships.

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