Tag Archives: clustering

An Essay Writing Tool

1 Nov

I’ve been posting a lot lately about the various elements of an essay starting at the pre-writing stage to writing and revising the rough draft. I’m also in the middle of breaking down the two hardest paragraphs of an essay – the introduction and the conclusion. For the introduction, you’ve got the hook and the map. The conclusion posts will come next week.

In my research for the above posts, I came across a handy-dandy online tool – the Essay Map. It’s a plug-and-play model and not one that you’ll want to count as spitting out a final draft but in terms of organizing your ideas and argument, it looks pretty good.

Has anyone used this tool before? Or do you have a recommendation for something better? Let us know in the comments.

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Getting Organized

9 Oct

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne was spot on with this quote and this idea can certainly be applied to the writing process.

I’ve spent a number of posts talking about the pre-writing process and I thought it a good idea to compile them all into one place.

First off, understanding the assignment is the key to writing a great essay. Once you’re clear about what’s expected of you, there are a number of pre-writing strategies you can employ to get you going. I’d recommend trying them all out; you may find that switching strategies will inspire new ideas or connections. Here are the links to each strategy post:

Brainstorming

Clustering/Mind Mapping

Looping

The Topic Outline

If you need a sentence outline, simply follow the instructions for the topic outline that’s linked above and then use one of the pre-writing strategies to craft the sentences you need.

Mapping the Mind

26 Sep

Continuing the theme of the brainstorming post, let’s dive into another prewriting strategy – clustering or mind mapping.

This is a strategy that I’m sure many of you have done and, even if you haven’t, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept.

– Clustering/Mind Mapping

Write down your main idea/premise in the middle of a piece of paper and circle it. Go beyond the title of the novel, the name of the scientific formula, etc. For instance, gender roles in The Great Gatbsy is going to generate far more interesting connections than just plain ole The Great Gatsby.

(There are mind mapping programs out there but I really recommend sticking with pen and paper – besides the fact that it’s easier to capture your thoughts with pen, it’s so easy to “lose” a thought to a computer screen)

Now, just let the ideas flow. Write all the words/phrases that come to mind around your central circle. Just write. Do NOT edit yourself, do NOT worry about making connections just yet. All you want to do is write.

Once you feel good about what you’ve got down, start making connections. The first connection will be back to your central circle, of course, but look for connections between the sub-circles. Take a look at this for an example.

Not all clusters look alike either so don’t feel you have to follow some formula. Most mind maps start off looking like this but if the herringbone style makes more sense to you, go for it!

If you can’t figure out what to write about, try using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast your two top choices.

Use whichever type of cluster, mind map, diagram, spider map, etc. that works for you!

If you’d like help clustering, come on in to the Writing Center! We’re here Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. Sign up for an appointment in the Library (see the main counter) or email lincolnwriting@gmail.com

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