Importance of Prewriting and Prewriting Techniques in Writing Material

August 12, 2014

When faced with a blank page and the requirement to produce a piece of work, most students have the same reaction: I don’t know what to write about! The best way to remove that pressure is prewriting. Prewriting allows writers to focus on their purpose, audience, and format to generate ideas without being overwhelmed by the remainder of the writing process.
During prewriting, students’ creativity can flow. They don’t have to go with the first topic that comes to mind. They can brainstorm and push boundaries to take their work from ordinary to extraordinary. They can select the topic they like best, and save the rest for another project.
After deciding on a topic, students can also use prewriting to come up with some of the ideas or details they will include in their work. Whether this is through introductory research or more brainstorming, it’s another opportunity for students to set the foundation for their content. 
Once students have their topic and ideas, they can use pre-writing to focus on another writing standard – organization. This involves taking ideas and putting them in a logical order, whether that’s chronological order, cause and effect order, or order of importance.
This process eliminates the need for students to pause and wonder about what to write next. When students reach the end of one section, they simply look to their pre-writing for a reminder about what comes next. This allows students to focus on other writing standards while writing, such as sentence fluency, voice, and word choice.
The prewriting possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas:
  • T.A.P. Count Planning Guide – Start by setting the task, audience, and purpose. Then brainstorm different ideas.
  • Free-write – Start with a prompt or topic. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write as much and as quickly as possible without worrying about organization, grammar, or spelling. When time is up, pick out the best ideas and place them in a logical order.
  • Bubble map or detail wheel – Write a topic in the center of the bubble map. Write details about the topic in bubbles around the center. When finished, write a number next to each detail to indicate the order in which the details should be included.
  • 5 “W”s – Start with an event or piece of information. Answer the following questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? (And how?)
  • Outline – Brainstorm ideas to be included. Organize the ideas into related groups. Order the groups in a logical sequence. 

Some of these principles are reflected in the graphic organizers that Utah Compose offers to its student users.

A wide variety of interactive pre-writing tools are also available online:
The best prewriting techniques are those that address both ideas and organization. Effective prewriting is a foundation that supports writers from beginning to end. 

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