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Rutherford High School RWC

The Process of . . . Developing

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So, you've chosen a destination (purpose) and a vehicle (structure), now it's time to hit the road! In order to communicate effectively, you need to say it well. And how can you say it well if you haven't thought it through all the way?
I'm going to take you through several different techniques and drafting stages:

Getting to the early drafts: Global Development

All writers run out of things to say, get bored with their writing, lack interest in their topic, and lose their focus. The following techniques may help you generate more depth, create richer development, realize significant details, refocus your text, or simply help you reconsider or visualize a new text altogether.


  1. Sometimes called the Super-Sized Draft, this draft calls for you to write about a topic until you have nothing left to say. EXHAUST your topic. Shoot for exhaustion. As gross as it sounds, imagine yourself regurgitating on the page. Don’t leave out any information, and let your thoughts wander around on the page. Don’t edit, and don’t don’t don’t stop. When you have said everything you possibly can about a topic, then you have found success with this exercise.
  2. Double your text. If your draft is 250 words, make it 500. Expand your topic, create stronger details. Simply double your text. You can count the words and be strict to write twice as many, or you can fudge a little.
  3. Writing between the lines. Double space your text and print it. Now go back through and write another essay in the blank space between you lines. Add more detail. Add a sentence. Add a thought or opinion. Remind yourself of something. Note when you need more information. Double-space your text and then return to it, writing between the lines adding those “lost sentences” you left out. Include details you may initially find insignificant like the weather or the color of a dress, include dialogue, set the scene by describing the physical environment, or ask questions that you will need to answer.
  4. Exploding the moment. Take one photograph, one short scene, or even one sentence and "explode" it with details. Even things that seem insignifigant may not prove to be. What time was it? Describe the setting. What was everyone wearing? Use dialogue and slow way way down. Hey, good writers are good liars because they use lots of details. (Not that I condone lying, but it's true.)
  5. Dialogue (Eavesdropping)—Although you probably won’t be able to use this exercise to develop a current text, it will train your ear to listen to people’s words as well as their silences, their enunciation, word choice and tone. Simply find a place where people are chatting and write down everything you hear. Note as much as you can—silences, emotional quality of words and phrases, responses, length of responses, and so on. 
  6. Writing from multiple perspectives (as an artist would a model; walking around the subject at different times of day)
  7. Mapping—When writing a personal essay in which you can draw on the physical environment (a room, a house, a park, a city, or even the entire country) it can help to draw a map and label specific events or physical elements.
  8. Memory Draft--A memory draft is a draft you create by not referring back to your initial draft; remembering your text or recreating the text. It may follow along the same story line as your original draft or it may go in a new direction. Although this is the one draft my students dread, it is also the one that can be the absolutely most successful. When a student’s computer loses a paper, I require them to rewrite it from memory—no excuses. What you may find is that you remember the important stuff and you lose the fluff. You may word things differently, and because you have already laid down you thoughts on paper, you can do it again with a new vision or the text. You may take chances, change the organization, or change the content. You never forget anything, you just don’t always remember when you filed the information.


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