Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mapping Your Writing: Causality and Details

In writing an article, you want to make sure that you convey your central points in ways which are logical and relatively straightforward.  You want each of your main assertions to prepare the reader for what comes next, and then you want your selected details to support those assertions.

Causality is the chain of cause-and-effect within a work of writing.  With causality, you want to show how each assertion you've made supports the future assertions in the work.  For example, saying "the spider bit me, and then my hand swelled up" implies that the spider's bite gave the narrator a bad reaction.  This could be extended to show a trip to the hospital and the mailing of "Get Well" cards from coworkers.

Compare that to "the spider bit me, and then my coworkers sent me cards."  Without the context of the hand swelling up and the hospital trip, we don't know how the cards are related to the spider bite.  Do the narrator's coworkers think the narrator overreacts to everything?  Or is there a running joke in the office about spiders and Halloween?  Without a solid chain of causality, we can't tell.

Details are an important part of realism in your writing.  By adding specific and believable (not simply true, but believably true, as evidenced by your writing) details, you can immerse your reader in the world of your story, poem, or essay.

In the spider bite example above, we don't see much detail.  For the causality example, this is okay - we're simply looking at how events work together.  But if we want these events to feel true and genuine, then we'll want to add in some some more specifics.  For example:
I hate John.  He went to Walgreens and bought this fluffy robotic spider thing for Halloween.  It looked like a football with eight giant pipe cleaner legs, and it had a spring-loaded plastic mandible.  Well, John had to be a smart aleck - he brings his spider ball up to me while I'm typing and clamps the plastic jaws over my wrist.  But then the jaws are so cheap that the release button breaks off, and then my hand starts swelling up because he clamped the spider on my wrist so tight.  Before you know it, my fingers are turning purple and I can't feel the keyboard.

You want to make sure that each detail you provide contributes to the overall narrative - in this example, it wouldn't make sense to mention that the narrator had chow mein for lunch, or that she wears purple Birkenstocks on Fridays.

Conversely, you want to ensure that the narrative as a whole is supported with enough details that each of your main points is believable.  Would the above example make sense if we didn't know that the spider was from Walgreens, or that it's for Halloween?  Probably.  But would it work if we didn't know that the spider toy was the size of a football?  Probably not.

In your small groups, I'd like you to draw out maps of your essays.  For each essay, write down the main points that you make, and then write down the details that you use.  Draw arrows from the details to the main points they support.  For example, one point of the spider story is that John is a terrible person.  The detail which supports this is the fact that he clamps the spider to the narrator's wrist.  This detail also supports the fact that the spider is causing her wrist to swell up - it shows that the jaws are the source of the tourniquet-like effect causing her to lose sensation in her hand.

After you've mapped your essay, find another member of your group (or another group, if you're working as a group) to map out your essay.  After they've finished, compare the two maps.  Are there any differences?  Are there any points of detail or causality which could be added to make your article more clear?  Are there any that could be removed without changing the meaning of your work?


  1. I worked in an Elementary School everyday. --> I learned how technology savvy they are. --> Everything is based off computers and other technology sources. --> It changes the way we communicate --> Changes The proper writing techniques we learn.

  2. Teachers give students a writing assignment.
    Students are unhappy and produce a poor result.
    Teachers no long require writing.
    Students begin to write about what they want.
    Students go into their writing comfort zone.
    Writing becomes more enjoyable and enjoyed.

  3. impossible introductions:
    intros are hard to write-anxiety-think of attention getter-being taught by many teachers-too many to choose-figuring out which ones still apply depending on age-narrow it down to one-summarize-plot out main points-make an effective thesis statement-strategize order-brainstorm-grab reader-create a good introduction-get an A grade!

  4. 1. Writing over technology-- use more abbreviations
    2. Using "internet language"-- using this language in proper papers
    3. Writing over internet quickly-- omitting grammar
    4. Eliminating grammar in internet writing-- not using grammar in proper writing
    5. Texting features-- not learning how to spell correctly or get thoughts across
    6. Word documents corrections-- not knowing to proof read or learning proper grammar and word usage.

  5. Cause : Teachers give us guidelines
    Effect: Easy to receive grade we want

    Cause: college became a creative experience
    Effect: Students are interested

    Cause: Homework not required
    Effect: Choose whether to do it or not

    Laurel, Melissa, Kurt

  6. Cause> using technology e.g. the internet, cellphones, computers. Effect> The way in which it has developed literature and effects generations differently.
    Cause> The internet usage Effect> Becoming lazy with how we write, but also being open to new possibilities and being smart in the sense that we can search things up.

  7. Teachers in high school make these crazy/strict rules for our writings (cause), which makes us as students not write as well or be as interested in writing the paper (effect).

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  9. Elementary: Learning the basics

    Link between elementary and middle school is that you can't do one without the other. You need to know the basic skills and grammar to write a 58 paragraph essay.

    Middle School: Focused on learning how to construct and write a 5 paragraph essay.

    Link between middle and high school is that you start to develop your own writing stlye and are more independent.

    High School: Focused more on the final product and not how you get there.

    Link between high school and college is that they are both higher levels of writing and require a lot more knowledge.

    College: Focused on the process of writing rather than just getting it done.

  10. Technology becoming more popular
    Print Industry dying

  11. Kids using technology is conncted with all types of technologies (ie facebook, cellphones, iphones) but is also connected with how grammar is affected as well as grammar (or lack thereof) being involved in technology

  12. A teacher tells you that you have to write a paper but you are not sure where to begin. You start to get anxiety sometimes to the point that you will sweat, panic, or even begin to cry because of the amount of stress/pressure you feel that you are under. You remember that your teacher has taught you many ways to begin an introduction; a question, quote, interesting fact, anecdote, etc. However; you then remember that some of these no longer apply as you move up in grade levels. For example, many teachers in high school no longer like it when a paper is started with a question. The next step is to narrow down your options and choose what is best for the type of paper that you are in the process of writing. It is important that at some point in the introduction your main points are plotted out and then summarized into a few sentences. Since this can be difficult you may want to begin brainstorming by making a list or web of some sort. It is then important to create an effective thesis statement. This can be done by using support and creating one very strong sentence that sums up the entire paper and will wow your audience. If you follow these guidelines you will be sure to create a good introduction and get the A grade that you want.

  13. Living around campus --> You are surrounded my many resources --> Being a student you find yourself using these --> Icampus is provided so you can easily map out your classes and have easy access to redbird email --> communication with teachers and other students (another way to communicate with students is texting) --> having a redbird email also causes other organizations to send you fliers and emails that are targeted towards you --> Reading and responding to fliers, emails, and text messages cause your writing skills to improve

  14. I have to write a grassroots article for class-->I did it because i need a good grade in the class.
    I am writing about how talking out loud helps me write papers better and faster-->It is something I do on a regular basis so it is easy to talk about and get a lot of information about.
    I started using this method my junior year of high school-->I had to write a ten page paper for half my class grade so i needed to write a really good paper.
    I did very well on my paper--> My new method stuck.
    I don't think anyone else really does this--> Because no one does it, it might make an interesting story.

  15. every time i was in a group no one did work linked to i started hating group work which linked to when the teacher would say "group projects" i would run which linked to because i ended up doing all the work that linked to i was afraid for college that linked to i didn't want to work in groups in college

    I then started over to a new web

    Everyone in my group in college came up with ideas which linked to our project was easier to finish which linked to i learned how to voice my ideas and get peoples feedback linked to i learned how to wok in groups which linked to i like working in groups

  16. Poe and Shakespeare influencing the writing world/theater/English language, etc. --> changing the way people view writing/the way people speak/new genres are created --> lasting effects on how people write today and how they improved the writing world for the better.

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  18. Round Robin Story Starter

    Get Audience Attention with funny story

    Give detailed information about round robin

    So the audience understands what it is

    Explain why round robin helps writing ( helps with writing because it helps with your creative writing skills and it teaches some one to put humor into a story with it still being appropriate)

    Shows audience how you can be creative

    Jordan Fahel, Amy Harvoth

  19. Emily, Melissa, John, Mike

    Living around campus --> You are surrounded my many resources --> Being a student you find yourself using these --> Icampus is provided so you can easily map out your classes and have easy access to redbird email --> communication with teachers and other students (another way to communicate with students is texting) --> having a redbird email also causes other organizations to send you fliers and emails that are targeted towards you --> Reading and responding to fliers, emails, and text messages cause your writing skills to improve

  20. higher power gives assignment to slaves--> slaves need to finish assignment on time in order to move on to getting a job-->assignment must be done on the computer-->computers are evil-->slaves freak out-->one slave goes back to shack to start eh assignment: the mid term--> computer tries to be evil-->she ignores it-->computer appriciates her hard work-->helps her finish her mid term--> that makes her finish her mid term on time--> that pleases the higher power--> he allows her to move on to the next stage of getting a real job

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. That was from Jessica, Meredith, and myself

  23. Someone writes a story....wants to make a movie.......so they transfer it into a script.......then hire a crew and staff...give it to the actors and actresses......becomes a movie......everyone loves it.

  24. kids grew up with technology->(if you grow up with something, you are used to it) kids played many video games-> (video games are a technological fad that kids enjoy) Kids didn't go outside as much-> (Not enough physical activity can lead to weight gain) Some kids are obese-> (Another thing is kids got cell phones at a younger age than normal) Kids get cell phones at a young age-> (incorrect grammar is used while communicating) many kids text and AIM each other with bad grammar-> (Kids are used to their bad habit) people get used to writing in shorthand.

  25. Created Facebook group --> Surprised reaction from everyone that we were using Facebook in class --> Introduced Blogger --> Made Project 1 groups --> Created Drunk Driving Accident blog --> Joined new groups --> Created visual projects for Blogger --> Presented Project 2 --> left classroom more knowledgeable about blogging.

  26. Chapter 1.

    person drives pass a bill board-> billboard attracts audience members-> person see fat man on billboard-> thinks about there own weight-> notice they need to lose a little weight-> takes number down-> goes to gym-> gym gets rich.
    how this relates to writing?
    Billboard is simple-> gets straight to the point-> main point was highlighted-> in writing keep your work simple-> don't have a lot of nonsense-> know your audience-> grab their attention.

    Chapter 2 Movie trailers.

    Director targets certain audience in movie trailer=> People see movie trailer and it either appeals to them or not=> If it does then they will see the movie=>
    This relates to writing because like movie trailer directors, as writers we need to target audiences=> this makes it more effective to certain people which makes ur paper more successful

  27. Emily, Melissa, John, Mike

    Living around campus --> You are surrounded my many resources --> Being a student you find yourself using these --> Icampus is provided so you can easily map out your classes and have easy access to redbird email --> communication with teachers and other students (another way to communicate with students is texting) --> having a redbird email also causes other organizations to send you fliers and emails that are targeted towards you --> Reading and responding to fliers, emails, and text messages cause your writing skills to improve

  28. get a cell phone- started texting for the first time- texted friends and family- as I grew up my texting language changed- now years later I am texting more people professionally (teachers,coaches,ect.) - I have to watch how I text certain people because using acronims and shorting words works with friends and my mom but when I have to text my coach or a professor they need to be able to understand me and if I am talking to them about an importnat issue "text talk"- wouldn't set well. Also my dad would have no idea what I am saying if I put "lol" or ":)" I still do and will always have to be careful how I text.

  29. Teenager gets a phone....he wants texting....parents pay more on the phone bill....he finally has texting....starts learning texting lingo...starts to text in his english class...starts to add texting lingo in his assignments....does not pay attention in class.....starts to fail his english exams.....does poorly on his English ACT....has to take an English 099 class.

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