The Writing Process: Step 3 "Support"
The writing process -- it is a PROCESS not a single effort -- needs to be explained to young writers in your homeschool. Step 1 "Ideas" and Step 2 "The Plan" have been completed (no paper necessary!), so now it's time to move on to Step 3 "Support."
Without support, anything will crumble, even a piece of writing.
The definition of support is:
- to bear the weight of, especially from below
- to hold in position so as to keep from slipping.
When a civil engineer builds decides to build a bridge, he could come up with a vision for what the bridge should LOOK like, start construction, and then try to prop it up in lots of place once it's in place.....but I wouldn't feel confident to drive on it if he did! My idea of a good civil engineer is one who FIRST does the math that I am incapable of to determine how deeply to dig for the foundation's solidity. Figure out how much weight must be borne, and create a foundation that meets that need.
Too many students start working on the paint color of the bridge first, and then try to go back and prop it all up when their teacher says, "Too fluffy. Where is your support?" Adding support after the fact is not the best choice.
Here's my vlog explaining how to establish Support for a piece of writing:
Jotting down a few notes during this step is very helpful. Strong writing, whether it is persuasive writing or not, needs support. Choosing the support for a piece of writing can be as simple as this:
- brainstorm short phrases that are universally accepted as true that have something to do with your idea
- jot them ON SCRAP PAPER
- when you have several (8 or more), circle the ones that fit best with the plan you have for your piece
Here's an example. If my Idea for my writing assignment is a descriptive piece about the variety of flowers in our perennial garden out front (that's a picture of it....my husband's favorite hobby), I'm not trying to convince anyone to agree with me, but descriptive writing needs good support just as much as any other type.
Notes for the support for my descriptive piece about the perennial garden beside my front walkway:
- lots of color catches the eye
- a weed-free garden looks well-tended and cared for
- some plants have beautiful flowers
- some plants have interesting foliage
- butterflies are drawn to certain types of plants
- bumblebees are drawn to certain types of plants
- variety helps maintain visual interest
- different plants peak at different times of the year
- my 87-year-old mother-in-law loves to putter in this garden
- my husband planted this garden and adds to it each year
Anyone could agree with any of the above statements. Because they are universally acceptable, they make for good support for my piece.
With possibilities for support before me, I think back to my Plan for the piece; what voice did I decide to use?
Formal? Poetic? Story-telling? Scientific? Action-driven? Humorous? Poignant?
Today, I choose "poignant" for our example. So I circle the support statements that will best help me create a poignant descriptive piece about the garden. "weed free = well-tended" "mother-in-law" "husband" "butterflies" "bumblebees" "lots of color" are my circled statement choices.
With that scrap paper in front of me, it becomes easy to see something emerging. I begin to think about my mother-in-law's visit yesterday, and the joy she took in puttering in the garden all day. I think about my husband's arrival home from work, and the joy I took watching the two of them putter together. I think about the many trips he and I have taken to garden centers all over the place to choose new plants for the garden, and the memories he has shared of his mother's gardens when he was a child. I think about the bumblebees gathering pollen, helping the flowers thrive. I think about the butterflies, my life-symbol favorites, coming to visit. I think about the variety of colors in the beds, and the variety of people who walk past them on the way to our front door.
Are you starting to get a lump in your throat yet? I am! My poignant piece is well on its way, and I have created a list of firm support statements that will be able to bear the weight of the rest of the piece when I begin to write it.
Tomorrow's post - Step 4 "Articulation." (We're gonna write that pesky thesis statement at last.)
You will find it easy to write a poignant piece when you write a Family Narrative.
This unique writing guide is a great resource for getting an early high-schooler or even a middle school student started with good writing.
Click here to learn more about our Introductory Guide to High School Short Story Writing: Family Narrative.