Prewriting (Invention) General Questions
This section explains the prewriting (invention) stage of the composing process. It includes processes, strategies, and questions to help you begin to write.
Last Edited: 2010-04-17 05:24:03
Beyond the strategies outlined in the previous section, these questions might help you begin writing.
Explore the problem — not the topic
- Who is your reader?
- What is your purpose?
- Who are you, the writer? (What image or persona do you want to project?)
Make your goals operational
- How can you achieve your purpose?
- Can you make a plan?
Generate some ideas
- Keep writing
- Don't censor or evaluate
- Keep returning to the problem
Talk to your reader
- What questions would they ask?
- What different kinds of readers might you have?
Ask yourself questions
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? So What?
Conjecture: what are the facts? Definition: what is the meaning or nature of the issue? Quality: what is the seriousness of the issue? Policy: what should we do about the issue? For more information on the stases, please go to the OWL resource on stasis theory.
Classical topics (patterns of argument)
- How does the dictionary define ____?
- What do I mean by ____?
- What group of things does ____ belong to?
- How is ____ different from other things?
- What parts can ____ be divided into?
- Does ____ mean something now that it didn't years ago? If so, what?
- What other words mean about the same as ____?
- What are some concrete examples of ____?
- When is the meaning of ____ misunderstood?
- What is ____ similar to? In what ways?
- What is ____ different from? In what ways?
- ____ is superior (inferior) to what? How?
- ____ is most unlike (like) what? How?
- What causes ____?
- What are the effects of ____?
- What is the purpose of ____? - What is the consequence of ____?
- What comes before (after) ____?
- What have I heard people say about ____?
- What are some facts of statistics about ____?
- Can I quote any proverbs, poems, or sayings about ____?
- Are there any laws about ____?
- Is ____ possible or impossible?
- What qualities, conditions, or circumstances make ____ possible or impossible?
- When did ____ happen previously?
- Who can do ____?
- If ____ starts, what makes it end?
- What would it take for ____ to happen now?
- What would prevent ___ from happening?
- How is ____ different from things similar to it?
- How has ____ been different for me?
- How much can ____ change and still be itself?
- How is ____ changing?
- How much does ____ change from day to day?
- What are the different varieties of ____?
- Where and when does ____ take place?
- What is the larger thing of which ___ is a part?
- What is the function of ____ in this larger thing?
Cubing (considering a subject from six points of view)
- *Describe* it (colors, shapes, sizes, etc.)
- *Compare* it (What is it similar to?)
- *Associate* it (What does it make you think of?)
- *Analyze* it (Tell how it's made)
- *Apply* it (What can you do with it? How can it be used?)
- *Argue* for or against it
Make an analogy
Choose an activity from column A to explain it by describing it in terms of an activity from column B (or vice-versa).
|playing cards||writing essays|
|changing a tire||making peace|
|sailing||rising in the world|
|running for office||teaching|
Rest and incubate.
(Adapted from Linda Flower's Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing, Gregory and Elizabeth Cowan's Writing, and Gordon Rohman and Albert Wlecke's Prewriting.)