Checklist for Assessing the Writing Situation

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The Topic:

a) Has a topic (or a range of possible topics) been given to me, or am I free to choose my own?

b) What interests me about my topic? What questions would I like to explore?

c) How broadly can I cover my topic? Do I need to narrow it down to a more specific topic?

Sources of information:

a) Where will my information come from? Reading? Personal experience? Direct observation? Interviews? Questionnaires?

b) What type of documentation is required?

Purpose and audience:

a) Why am I writing: To inform readers? Persuade them? Entertain them? Call them to action? A combination of these?

b) Who are my readers? How well informed are they about my topic? How will they benefit from reading my work?

c) How interested and attentive are my readers? Will they care about my purpose? Will they resist any of my ideas?

d) What is my relationship to them? Student to instructor? Employee to supervisor? Citizen to citizen? Expert to novice? Scholar to Scholar?

Length and document design:

a) Do I have any length specifications? If not, what length seems appropriate - given my topic, purpose, and audience?

b) Must I use a particular format for my document? If so, do I have guidelines to follow or examples to consult?

Reviewers and deadlines:

a) Who will be reviewing my draft in progress:

My instructor? A writing center tutor? My classmates? A friend? A family member?

b) What are my deadlines? How much time will I need to allow for the various stages of writing, including proofreading and printing the final draft?


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