The Writing Process

Writing is an important skill, which you will need throughout your school career and your life. Writing allows you to express yourself. It can take time and effort, but developing your writing skills can give you a sense of pride. 

Good writing needs to be planned very carefully.  Writing is a skill that you can learn and improve over time, so you will need to practise your writing as much as possible. 
 
Types of Writing
 
There are many different types of writing that you will learn how to do. You can write words in a list, for example, your spelling words. You can write in sentences, for example, the answers to questions in tests. You can also write in paragraphs (a number of sentences that deal with a similar topic or idea), for example, when you write a story.
 

 

Writing can be either creative or transactional.  

Creative writing is a type of writing that includes:

• descriptions of people, places, animals or objects
• personal stories/narrative
• imaginative writing, such as poems
• dialogues and plays

Creative writing allows you to use your imagination and be original.

On the other hand, transactional writing is a more practical and factual style of writing that you use for everyday matters. It includes:

• Letters and emails
• Advertisements, such as posters and brochures
  (although these can also be considered creative writing)
• Written speeches
• Information texts that convey information and facts
• Instructions and directions
• News articles
• Reports
• Diary entries

 
The Writing Process
 
Whatever type of writing that you are doing, there is a process that you can follow to ensure that your writing is effective and is presented in the best possible way.
 
Follow the steps outlined below to help you.
 
 

Planning/ Pre-Writing

 
The topic that you choose to write about is very important. It is a good idea to choose a topic that you have experienced, or know something about. However, sometimes your topic will be chosen for you.
 
Keep in mind the type of writing that you are doing (creative or transactional), the purpose of your writing and who your reader/s will be.
 
 

Elements of a Story

When writing a story, include the following elements:

Action: This is made up of what happens to the characters and what they do.

Conflict: This is the contest or struggle between two opposing forces, for example, two people or two ideas.

Climax: This is the turning point of the story or the point at which the outcome is decided.  The action in the story moves us towards the climax.  Either the main character solves the problem, or fails to solve it, or one of the opposing forces in the struggle wins and the other loses.

Resolution: This brings the story to a satisfying close. 

 
Get Your Ideas Together
 

It does not matter what you are writing (a list or a letter, a diary entry or a creative essay), it is really useful to find ways to organise your thoughts.  

To do this, you can jot down notes, use mind maps or lists, or simply begin writing your ideas down. You will use key words and phrases only at this stage.

In the planning stage, allow your ideas to flow freely, without stopping your creative thoughts. However, this does not mean ‘be untidy’! Later, when you come to editing your work, you will be able to check to see if the ideas work or not.

 
Examples of how to gather ideas for a story:
 
1. Make Notes
2. Make a Mind Map
 
A mind map or spider diagram, is an effective way of putting your ideas down. It uses images and connections between ideas.
 
Look at the example below:
For more information on mind mapping go to the module on Study Techniques in the Study Skills section.
 

Organise Your Ideas

 
Once you have all your ideas together, you will need to put them into order. Decide which of your ideas to include and which ones to leave out.
 
The format that you use for your writing, depends on the type of writing, but for most types of writing, you can use the following structure:
 
Introduction
 
This sets the scene and can introduce the characters, or the main idea that you are writing about.  It is a paragraph that should attract the reader’s attention and make them want to read more.
Body 
 
This usually consists of paragraphs with details of the topic. Each paragraph should consist of a topic sentence, which states the main idea, followed by supporting sentences, which give more details.
 
Conclusion 
 
This is the last paragraph that completes the writing with a strong ending.
A good way to organise your thoughts is to use a horizontal plan. This helps you to put some structure and order to your ideas. 
 
Look at the example below:
 

 

Write a First Draft

 
This is the rough draft, which does not mean an untidy draft! 
 
Write quickly to get your ideas down and do not worry too much about spelling, punctuation and grammar at this stage, as you will attend to these later.
 
Revise and Edit
 
You will need to take the time to carefully check what you have written. This will help you to eliminate careless mistakes. 
 
Editing is the process of correcting errors that might have crept into your work in your first draft.  Editing is more than just correcting errors, though.  It is also the process of:
 
 finding ways to say things more clearly, including better ways to create mental pictures with words, 
 changing the order of your thoughts, 
 revising what should be included or left out, and 
 finding ways to make the writing personal and effective. 
 
When revising and editing your writing, check for the following:
 

Spelling:

 
Use your dictionary, if necessary, and check that each word that you have written is spelt correctly.
Make a list of words that you found difficult to spell, so that you can refer to them in the future.
 
Click here for more information on Spelling.
 

Punctuation:

 
Check that proper nouns and the first words of sentences all have capital letters.
Check that each sentence has a full stop, exclamation or question mark at the end.
Check that direct speech and quotes are correctly punctuated.
Check to ensure that you have put commas in the correct places.
See if you need to put in any other punctuation marks, such as colons or semicolons.
 
Click here for more information on Punctuation.
 
Language Use:
 
Check that the vocabulary that you have used is appropriate for the type of writing. For example, for descriptive writing, you will need to use descriptive words (adjectives) and 'Figures of Speech' to paint pictures and convey your emotions.
Eliminate slang words and replace over-used words, such as ‘good’ and ‘nice’. Use a Thesaurus to replace these words with synonyms.
Eliminate unnecessary words and repetition.
If characters appear in your writing, use direct speech to allow them to speak and ‘come to life’.
Ensure you have used the tenses correctly and consistently throughout.
 
Click here for more information on Figures of Speech, Synonyms, The Tenses and Verbs.
 
 

 

 

 

Sentence and Paragraph Structure:

 
Check that each sentence contains a subject and a finite verb.
Check that you have used full sentences.
Use short sentences that have impact.
Check that you have varied the length of your sentences for interest.
Use both simple and complex sentences.
Check that each paragraph contains a single idea or topic.
Ensure that you have used effective words to link your paragraphs together.
 
For more information, go to the module on Sentences.
 
Flow:
 
Ensure that you have stuck to the point and not wandered off the topic.
Check the sequence of your writing to make sure that it flows.
Check that your ideas have progressed logically and that you have expressed yourself clearly.
 
Structure:
 
Check that your writing has an introduction, middle and end (conclusion).
Check that you have used the correct format for the type of writing that you are doing.
Content:
 
Check that the content that you have used is relevant and accurate.
 
 
Tone and Style:
 
Depending on what you are writing, you will need to change the ‘tone’ of your writing. For example, when you are writing instructions, using a factual tone is more suitable, whilst writing a descriptive story works better when you use figures of speech and creative ideas, as well as the first person voice (I, me, my).
 
Ensure that the tone or mood of your text is correct. For example, is it amusing or serious? The tone that you use can be literal (factual) or figurative (imaginative), depending on the type of text that you are writing.
Does your writing meet the purpose and the needs of the reader?

Once you have checked your work for errors and ways to improve it, it is useful to get someone else to look at your writing, because often it is difficult to spot errors that you have made.

 
You can use the attached checklist to assist you when revising and editing your writing.
 
THE WRITING PROCESS - CHECKLIST
I have checked that:  
Yes No Not Sure
Spelling:      
All spellings are correct.      
Punctuation:      
Proper nouns and the first words of sentences all have capital letters.      
Each sentence has a full stop, exclamation or question mark at the end.      
Direct speech and quotes are correctly punctuated.      
Commas are in the correct places.      
Other punctuation marks, such as colons or semicolons are in the correct places.      
Language Use:      
The vocabulary that I have used is appropriate for the type of writing.       
I have not used any slang words.      
I have replaced overused words.      
I have eliminated unnecessary words and any repetition.      
I have used direct speech to bring characters to life.      
I have used the tenses correctly and consistently throughout.      
Sentence/Paragraph Structure:      
Each sentence contains a subject and a finite verb.      
I have used full sentences.      
Each paragraph contains a single idea or topic.      
I have used effective words to link paragraphs together.      
I have used short sentences that have impact.      
I have varied the length of my sentences to add interest.      
I have used simple and complex sentences.      
Flow:      
I have stuck to the point and not wandered off.      
I have sequenced my writing to make sure that it flows.      
My ideas have progressed logically and that I have expressed myself clearly.      
Structure:      
My writing has an introduction, middle and end (conclusion), depending on the type of writing.      
I have used the correct format for the type of writing that I am doing.      
Content:      
The content that I have chosen is relevant and accurate.      
Tone:      
The tone or mood of your text is correct for the type of writing.      
My writing meets the purpose and the needs of my reader/s.      

Click here to download a copy of the Checklist.

Proofread and Mark Up

Once you have edited your piece of writing, read through it slowly. Check every word, sentence and paragraph.
 
Mark any changes that you want to make.
 
Final Draft
 
Now you are ready to write your final draft. 
 
Make sure that you have presented your writing in the correct format that you have been requested to use. Remember to add your name, grade and the date.
 
Make sure that you write as neatly and clearly as you can.
 
Have a final overall visual check of your piece of writing. Make sure that it can be easily read and is 100% ready to be presented.
 
ACTIVITIES
 
Activity 1
 
The Writing Process