What Are You Trying to Say, Anyways?


Whether it is your elementary student learning the fundamentals of sound paragraph writing or you are a college student working on a major paper and a thesis statement, it is central to good writing to know what you are trying to get across to your audience.  Sometimes, a student is given the topic they must write about by their teacher. Other times, it is up to the writer to come up with the topic to write. A good brainstorm is in order.

Let’s look at the first scenario. Your child’s teacher wants him to write a paragraph about gardening, using five of her spelling words from this week.   If your child is confused or upset by the assignment, one method of helping her is talking the assignment out. Help her come to the main idea of the paragraph by identifying the most important thing she wants to say about gardening. Help reinforce that she wants to start her paragraphs with a central or main idea (the goalie) and that the rest of the sentences are the players or team that supports the goalie, to make the paragraph strong.  Use whatever analogy works best for your child.

Essay writing and paper writing have the same ingredients. As a writer, take the topic your teacher or professor has given you. (Perhaps it is on a book or reading you have done. Maybe it is a research paper).  Identify your topic (easy enough when it is given), and break down your essay or paper to support the topic, paragraph by paragraph, with a good topic sentence and supporting sentences for each paragraph.  Good essay writing and paper writing is going to make your central ideas easily identifiable in the opening paragraph and then readily found throughout the body of your essay or longer paper. If you get stuck while you are organizing your thoughts and writing, ask yourself or have your child ask himself, “What am I trying to say anyways?”

By keeping your reader and what you’re trying to communicate to your reader in mind throughout the writing process, your writing will become clearer, stronger, and more focused. Keep this idea in mind even as you move into the editing and revising process!

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