The Writing Process: Step 2 "The Plan"
Writing is a process, not a one-shot deal, and helping your middle-school and high-school students learn that will help them whether you homeschool or not.
Yesterday we looked at Step 1 "Ideas."
Next comes my favorite step, "The Plan."
Here's my new vlog explaining "The Plan":
Taking those ideas you talked about, you form a plan for attacking this assignment that will convey the ideas to your reader. Again, many students don't understand (perhaps no one has ever explained to them?) that there are MANY WAYS to attack an assignment, and finding the one that feels the best for you is an important part of being a good writer.
Writing teachers call this "finding your voice."
Let's use this example for a descriptive piece of writing to investigate different writing voices. The assignment is to write a descriptive piece about a favorite place to go for some alone time. Imagine that your student has chosen to write about the backyard hammock after dinner, listening to the frogs, smelling the flowers, avoiding the mosquitoes. What voices might we use to tell about this get-away?
* The poetic soul may choose to paint the scene for her reader with words: The warm, lilac-scented breeze is just enough to keep me gently swaying, but not enough to ruffle the pages of my book. Could there be a more perfect evening for a visit to my hammock?
* The scientist may prefer a "just the facts, ma'am" approach: A hammock is, by its very design, perfect for wrapping its occupant in just the right kind of support. A post-dinner visit to our backyard hammock is a sure way to make me feel good.
* The drama queen can pull out all the stops: Snugly wrapped, swaying to and fro, the gentle repetition of a hammock's movements takes me back to the safety and comfort of my mother's womb. I am secreted away from the bustle of the world, and I can again be still and think great thoughts...or perhaps think about nothing at all!
* The action lover can run with his idea: When dinner is over and the dishes are done, my family knows better than to block my path to the hammock. If the weather is nice and I have no place else I have to go, that hammock pulls me to it like a giant magnet.
BE CAREFUL with this step, however. A student won't actually be WRITING the sentences above; I just did that to illustrate what I mean by a variety of voices to address the same idea. At "The Plan" step, you just want to CHOOSE the voice in which you would like to write the piece. What voice fits you as a person? What fits the subject matter (is it very serious, or light and fluffy)? What is your teacher likely looking for in terms of tone (casual and conversational, or formal and objective)?
Once we have an Idea and a Plan, we're ready to move on to that piece of paper. Even though it still is blank, it feels a lot less intimidating with the thought process well-underway!
Tomorrow, Step 3: "Support"
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