Write Old Variable

It is time to begin writing … but not on paper. Not yet.

Our natural modality is speaking, not writing. Therefore, begin by using what is natural. 

Speak, then Write

Speaking before we write helps us—

  • write in a conversational tone. Writing that is stiff or awkward is difficult to read.
  • write faster, because we already will have done a lot of our composing.
  • find where we left out information.

Task 5.16.1 – Three Persons

Three students will read Variable 1, part 1 – the early Native American runners. Then Person 1 will turn over the paper or turn off the screen, and, using the outline you created in the previous chapter, tell the other two students about that section. Pretend you are giving a speech. Do not try to do it from memory. But do stay organized.  

The other two students should take notes regarding early North American runners. They then can help Student 1identify Hidden Questions (see below).

Repeat the process, with Person 2 and 3, respectively, for “Deerfoot” and “Tom Longboat.”

Identify Hidden Questions – Review

Dr. G. has taught writing for over half a century. In his professional opinion, the three most important concepts of writing, in order, are:

  1. Identify a “New” subject using What/Why
  2. Organize the subject using SONY and IDP.
  3. Identify and answer hidden questions.

You should look for hidden questions several times in the composing process:

  • When you pretend to give a speech.
  • During and immediately after writing.
  • After you delete wordiness.
  • When you do a final proofreading.

What questions do you have about this sentence’s information?

There are many types of trees here.

You might ask—

What types of trees?
How many types?
Where is here?

Another example:

My mother bakes the best biscuits in the village.

Who is your mother?
Who says they’re the best?
How does she make them?
What do they taste like?
What kind of biscuits are they?

Identify and answer hidden question.

Need to Know vs. Nice to Know

Need to Know questions are essential ones. Readers must have the information to understand the writing. Readers do not need to know the answers to Nice to Know questions. These involve information that would be helpful to readers but are not essential for understanding. Do not overwhelm your readers with Nice to Know information and ideas. Doing so causes confusion. 

Writing Variable 1

You have researched, organized, and practiced composing orally. You are now ready to write. When you write, do the following:

  1. Write quickly.
  2. Write in a natural syntax.
  3. Strive for complete information.
  4. Do not worry about grammar or spelling.

Write Quickly

Writing quickly has two advantages:

  • Your sentences will have a more natural flow. The syntax (the order of language) is much less likely to sound choppy or convoluted.
  • You are less likely to want to keep bad writing. Everyone does some assignments incorrectly. By writing quickly, you are much more likely to throw away weak work. By contrast, you are more likely to want to keep bad writing if you spent a long time on it.

Write in a Natural Syntax

We rarely think about how we say things. We may not be precise, and almost always we can say things better, but usually how we say things comes naturally.

The same should be true when we write.  We should concentrate on what we have to say and not the syntax. For example, many teachers and textbooks advise us to vary our sentence lengths. As a result, students write some short and some long sentences but have problems with content. They overlook hidden questions. And consciously trying to write some long and some short sentences leads to run-ons and fragments.

In general, write SHORT sentences.  Concentrate on being clear and complete.  Doing so will automatically lead to some long and some short sentences.

Strive for Complete Information

Readers cannot understand you if they’re missing information. That’s like trying to assemble a child’s toy at Christmas with part of the instructions missing. 

The same is true for language. Slang and other imprecise words also lead to reader confusion. It is important that you use exact words, not general ones.

Do not Worry About Grammar or Spelling

Checking on grammar and spelling takes place at a different part of the brain than does composing. Worrying about such things too early weakens your writing because it takes your focus away from being clear and complete. We don’t ice a cake before we bake it.

Task 5.16.2 – Individual or Tandem

Keeping this lesson’s advice in mind, write up Variable 1.  There are three parts:

Early Native American running
Deerfoot and racism
Tom Longboat and racism

Make sure that each part follows the IDP formula, with the “I” (introduction to that part) being a Claim.  Use the outline given to you in the previous chapter.

Write about this many words, without wordiness:

Grades 4-6:                 250+
Grades 7-9                  300+
Grades 10-12              350+
College                       400+