Writing Exercise 1: Planning Think Sheet

What is the purpose of this Think Sheet?
What steps of the writing process will be covered by this Think Sheet?
How can I use this Think Sheet to help me write my essay?
Using the Planning Think Sheet


What is the purpose of this Think Sheet?

Before you can write your essay, you need to do some pre-writing to get your ideas on paper. There are many different ways to do pre-writing, and different ways work better for different people or different writing assignments. If you have not learned about pre-writing strategies or would like more practice with them, complete the Pre-Writing Techniques Tutorial. If you are already familiar with the different techniques for pre-writing, continue with this Think Sheet.


What steps of the writing process will be covered by this Think Sheet?

The Planning Think Sheet will guide you through the process of choosing a topic and generating ideas that you might want to use in your essay.
To see an overview of the Planning Think Sheet, choose Option 1 below. If you choose this option, you can print the Think Sheet directly from the Internet or just write your answers on another sheet of paper.
If you would like to open a copy of the Planning Think Sheet in a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word or Corel Word Perfect), select Option 2 below. You will need to save the file on your computer's hard drive or on a disk. If you choose this method, you can type your answers directly onto the form before printing it out.
Option 1: View the Think Sheet on the Internet
Option 2: Download the Think Sheet to a word processing program


How can I use this Think Sheet to help me write my essay?

On this page, you will be guided through the planning of a descriptive essay. Specifically, you will see how I use the Planning Think Sheet to help me plan an essay about an apartment where I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia. As you read my comments and see my examples, you should fill out your own Planning Think Sheet. When you are finished, you should be ready to move on to Writing Exercise 2: Organizing Think Sheet.
If you have any questions or comments about this exercise, ask your teacher for help or send an e-mail message to gardenmaster@byu.edu.


Using the Planning Think Sheet

First, write or type your name at the top of the Think Sheet. Then, write the topic of your essay that you chose from the section titled What are my Individual Project assignment options?. After thinking about the options, I realize that there are a few different places that I would like to write about. I decide to write "Describing a Place" for my topic on the Think Sheet:

Planning Step 1: Your Purpose
The first question on the Planning Think Sheet is "What is my purpose for writing this essay?" It will be much easier for you to write your essay if you have an idea of why you are writing it and what you want to accomplish. Your purpose may change as you go through the writing process, but you should write down what you think your purpose is now to get started.

Planning Step 2: Choosing Pre-Writing Techniques
The next step is to think about which pre-writing techniques will best help you to generate ideas for your topic. Mark the techniques you plan to use on your Think Sheet by underlining, circling, highlighting, or marking in some other way. (If you need to review some or all of the pre-writing techniques, go to the Pre-Writing Techniques Tutorial.)

Here is what I wrote as the purpose for my essay and the pre-writing techniques that I chose:

Planning Step 3: Pre-Writing
Now that you have decided on a pre-writing technique (or more than one), it is time to actually do your pre-writing. This is your opportunity to put your ideas on paper to see what you know about your topic. Remember the most important rule of pre-writing--don't worry about grammar, spelling, correctness, or the difference between good and bad ideas!

The first thing I wanted to do with my pre-writing was to choose a specific place to describe in my essay. I did this by brainstorming several possible places:

After doing this brainstorming exercise, I decided that I wanted to write about one of the apartments where I lived on my mission. I chose the apartment at Ploschad' Muzhestvo, because I had been thinking a lot about the things that happened while I was living there. I wanted to think more about that time in my life, and I decided that writing an essay about the apartment could help me do that.

Now that I had decided on a specific place to describe, I made a list of all the things that I could remember about that place:

Now take some time to use the pre-writing techniques you chose above to generate ideas for your essay.

Planning Step 4: Adding Sensory Detail
Once you have generated some ideas for your descriptive essay, it is a good idea to think of sensory details that you can add to your description. When I looked at the list of things I created in Step 3, I realized that I mostly wrote down things that I could see and situations I could remember happening in the apartment I was describing. I was very surprised to notice that I didn't write anything about sounds, smells, tastes, or feelings associated with the apartment! I think that most people, when asked to describe something, would focus mostly on things they can see. That's why Step 4: Adding Sensory Detail is an important part of planning a descriptive essay.

Here are the sensory details that I wrote down for Step 4:

Now it's your turn! Fill out the chart on your Planning Think Sheet for sensory details about the person, place, object, or animal that you are describing in your essay.

When you are finished, continue the writing process with Writing Exercise 2: Organizing Think Sheet.

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