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Arts & Letters Daily

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Writing Tutorial – Reader’s Draft

At the first, I invited you to write a paragraph on the main idea I created. Well, here is one paragraph sent to me. I would call it a first draft or rough draft because it needs a lot of editing. But, that’s OK. The important point is that she wrote her thoughts on the main idea … now she is ready to edit it.
The challenge in this Lesson is to convert a rough draft into a paragraph which readers might like to read … that’s called a readers’ draft. First, here is the rough draft sent to me.
David Suzuki

David Suzuki is a well-known biologist and outspoken environmentalist. I like what Suzuki said about the environment. I also like the fact that he was a Canadian. So, who does public speaking on Junior High? Who listen to a young kid? I agree with Suzuki about save nature. Why do he do his research in British Columbia? Could he not got accept in a US university? I find his TV show, On the Nature of Things boring. Do you liking them?
Before I edit this paragraph, let me point out a few things that bother me about the way it is written even though it contains some new information. First, I prefer that the paragraph be written in third person … not in first person. I am not interested in learning more about the writer; I want to know more about David Suzuki, the well-known biologist and outspoken environmentalist. If the writer was writing about herself, I would expect her to write in the first person (e.g., ‘I”). Since I want her to write about another person, she should use the third person.
Second, the writer simply lists a few things she knows about Suzuki … I want to read a paragraph that is focused on the main idea and that is organized in a way that makes the information flow. The way the paragraph is written, makes me wonder whether the writer has done some careful research. In other words, I wonder, is her information accurate and reliable?
Last, her grammar errors get in my way as I read the paragraph … grammar is supposed to help me read the paragraph, not interfere with the flow of ideas! I wonder why she wrote the paragraph the way she did. She started with a clear statement of the main idea. But, she did not follow through with any organization of the other sentences. I see that the paragraph requires a lot of editing.
I will use thinking strategies to revise the paragraph.
THINKING STRATEGY #1
I begin my editing with creating a concept map. A concept map works like an outline … it just a little more graphic. I could have made an outline instead of a concept map. I chose to create a concept map … it is an image I can see in my mind without looking at it.

THINKING STRATEGY #2
I will apply the common format for paragraphs … it can help you understand why I edited it the way I did. As we saw in Lesson 2, the paragraph format is captured in the following model.

THINKING STRATEGY #3
I will focusing on the main idea sentence.
THINKING STRATEGY #4
I will complete the following template with the ideas I want to write about. That will help me organize my main idea, sub-ideas, supporting details and conclusion.
Template: Paragraph Format
Main Idea
David Suzuki is a well-known biologist and outspoken environmentalist.
  • Sub-idea 1 – School interest
–         Supporting details
public speaking developed when he was in Junior High School
win many public speaking contests
often speaking about conserving nature
  • Sub-idea 2 – Research
–         Supporting details
After working in several universities
the University of British Columbia where he continued with his research in biology 
  • Sub-idea 3 – Contribution
–         Supporting details
shares his environmental concerns with the world
TV program, The Nature of Things
Conclusion
As a result of his contributions, the world will never be the same.
Here is my edited version of the paragraph on David Suzuki based on the main idea sentence I created in Lesson 1 and the concept map I created above.
David Suzuki

David Suzuki is a well-known biologist and outspoken environmentalist. He was born on March 24, 1936, the eldest son of the Suzuki family. His interest in public speaking developed when he was in Junior High School. He went on to win many public speaking contests, often speaking about conserving nature. After working in several universities, Suzuki moved to the University of British Columbia where he continued with his research in biology.  Today, Suzuki shares his environmental concerns with the world through his TV program, The Nature of Things. As a result of his contributions, the world will never be the same.
So, you can see how I have changed the paragraph by following my concept map and the paragraph format. This makes it easier for readers to follow my thoughts about Suzuki.
Now, I want to comment on how I avoided the errors in the rough draft … the errors I pointed out above.
First, you will notice that the writer of the draft version wrote a number of the sentences in the first person because she wrote about herself even though the paragraph was about Suzuki.  I did not write in the first person … I did not use the pronoun ‘I’. Instead, I wrote in the third person … the person spoken about, namely, David Suzuki. This paragraph is not about me … it’s about David Suzuki!
Second, the writer simply lists a few things she knows about Suzuki in no particular order. I followed the paragraph format to assist the reader top follow my thoughts.
Third, the writer’s use of incorrect grammar was confusing.  I wrote in two tenses … the present and the past. You will notice that I wrote the first and last sentence in the present tense because they are about Suzuki today. The rest of the sentences are all written in the past tense because they are about Suzuki’s past experiences … his experiences in school and as a researcher. This consistent use of tenses is very important so as not to confuse the reader about ‘what’ happened ‘when’.
In short, I followed three simple guidelines to create a READER’S DRAFT which is easy to read. They are: use the paragraph template and concept map to organize your thoughts; and use correct grammar; write in 3rd person.
Try this …
Before you write your own paragraphs, complete a template on paragraphs. If you need help, go to www.sponsoravillage.ca – click on Writing and scroll to Paragraph Format.
Next write your own paragraphs using the templates at www.sponsoravillage.ca – go to Writing and scroll to Paragraph Format and move over to Writing: Paragraph Format.
Ask someone you trust to give you feedback, using the Template, on what you have written.
If you have any questions about the writing process, send them to Ask Dr. Otto at www.sponsoravillage.ca.
Enjoy your writing experience.