Essential Questions for Writing

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Equipping your students with the tools required to be successful writers begins with the ability to ask the right questions. This lesson provides teachers with essential questions for writing intended to improve comprehension and overall writing effectiveness.

Essential Questions for Writing

Writing is a skill that extends far beyond the classroom. When students feel confident putting pen to paper, or keystroke to screen, it can enhance their effectiveness as communicators. The questions in this lesson can be used as a starting point for a classroom discussion on the nature of writing or as a means to facilitate ongoing learning objectives. Additionally, you can encourage students to ask these questions before, during, and after a writing assignment. Students can also reflect on how these questions shape a work in progress or how they can be helpful in revising an already completed work.

What is writing?

This basic question will help you guide students toward a deeper understanding of the basic activity, prolonged practice, and conceptual underpinnings of writing in general. It can also lead you and your students to further questions about voice, style, tone, audience, and the craft of writing itself.

Why am I writing?

The most essential question any writer must answer before beginning an assignment is to recognize why the task is being undertaken. If the purpose of the writing is unclear, the writing itself may come across as uniformed or aimless. When students begin a task with clarity, it's much easier to write with confidence.

Who am I writing to?

This question should be answered before prewriting even begins. When a writer doesn't know his audience, a piece of writing can quickly lose focus and become uninteresting. Students should be aware that the audience is not necessarily the teacher. A clear understanding of the intended audience can provide focus and guidance for any writing task.

How should I structure my writing?

Organization, even for an impromptu writing task, is a fundamental aspect of writing. It's important to structure an academic piece according to both what is required and what is expected. Readers often have expectations of how the general flow of an article will be unveiled based on its categorization. Creative writing lends itself toward a looser format, but should still adhere to some semblance of organization. Equipping your students with a variety of writing formats will provide a well-defined framework in which they can work.

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