Literature Reviews

Prewriting: Discovering ideas

Topic in hand, you can begin to get your ideas on the page. To generate new ideas
and clarify the thoughts you already have, try one or more of the following useful
prewriting strategies:
m Brainstorming- Writing quickly, list everything that comes into your mind
about your subject. Set a time limit—ten or fifteen minutes—and force yourself
to keep adding items to the list, even when you think you have run out of things
to say. Sometimes, if you press onward past the point where you feel you are
finished, you will surprise yourself with new and fresh ideas.
gold = early leaves/blossoms
Or gold = something precious (both?)
early leaf = flower (yellow blossoms)
spring (lasts an hour)
Leaves subside (sink to lower level)
Eden = paradise = perfection = beauty
Loss of innocence?
What about original sin?
Dawn becomes day (dawn is more precious?)
Adam and Eve had to fall? Part of natural order.
seasons/days/people’s lives
Title = last line: perfection can’t last
spring/summer/autumn
dawn/day
Innocence can’t last
m Clustering- This prewriting strategy works especially well for visual thinkers. In
clustering, you build a diagram to help you explore the relationships among your
ideas. To get started, write your subject at the center of a sheet of paper. Circle
it. Then jot down ideas, linking each to the central circle with lines. As you
write down each new idea, draw lines to link it to related old ideas. The result
will look something like the following web.
• Listing. Look over the notes and annotations that you made in your active
reading of the work. You have probably already underlined or noted more information
than you can possibly use. One way to sort through your material to find
the most useful information is to make a list of the important items. It helps to
make several short lists under different headings. Here are some lists you might
make after rereading Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Don’t be afraid to add
more comments or questions on the lists to help your thought process.
Images Colors
leaf (“early leaf”) green
flower gold (“hardest hue to hold”)
dawn
day
Eden
gold
Key Actions
gold is hard to hold
early leaf lasts only an hour
leaf subsides to leaf (what does this mean???)
Eden sinks to grief (paradise is lost)
dawn goes down to day
gold can’t stay (perfection is impossible?)
• Listing. Look over the notes and annotations that you made in your active
reading of the work. You have probably already underlined or noted more information
than you can possibly use. One way to sort through your material to find
the most useful information is to make a list of the important items. It helps to
make several short lists under different headings. Here are some lists you might
make after rereading Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Don’t be afraid to add
more comments or questions on the lists to help your thought process.
Images Colors
leaf (“early leaf”) green
flower gold (“hardest hue to hold”)
dawn
day
Eden
gold
Key Actions
gold is hard to hold
early leaf lasts only an hour
leaf subsides to leaf (what does this mean???)
Eden sinks to grief (paradise is lost)
dawn goes down to day
gold can’t stay (perfection is impossible?)
* Journal writing- Your instructor might ask you to keep a journal in which you
jot down your ideas, feelings, and impressions before they are fully formulated.
Sometimes a journal is meant for your eyes only; in other instances your instructor
might read it. Either way, it is meant to be informal and immediate, and to
provide raw material that you may later choose to refine into a formal essay.
Here are some tips for keeping a useful journal:
• Get your ideas down as soon as they occur to you.
® Write quickly.
® Jot down your feelings about and first impressions of the story, poem, or play
you are reading.
® Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
® Don’t worry about sounding academic.
0 Don’t worry about whether your ideas are good or bad ones; you can sort that
out later.
® Try out invention strategies, such as freewriting, clustering, and outlining.
® Keep writing, even after you think you have run out of things to say. You
might surprise yourself.
® Write about what interests you most.
• Write in your journal on a regular basis.
For a more detailed explanation of how to approach journal writing, read the
chapter “Writing as Discovery: Keeping a Journal.”
« Outlining, Some topics by their very nature suggest obvious ways to organize a
paper. “An Explication of a Sonnet by Wordsworth” might mean simply working
through the poem line by line. If this isn’t the case, some kind of outline will
probably prove helpful. Your outline needn’t be elaborate to be useful. While a
long research paper on several literary works might call for a detailed outline, a
500-word analysis of a short story’s figures of speech might call for just a simple
list of points in the order that makes the most logical sense—not necessarily, of
course, the order in which those thoughts first came to mind.
1. Passage of time = fall from innocence
blossoms
gold
dawn
grief
2 . Innocence = perfection
Adam and Eve
loss of innocence = inevitable
real original sin = passing of time
paradise sinks to grief
3 . Grief = knowledge
experience of sin & suffering
unavoidable as grow older

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