24 Develop
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24 Develop Most wonderful ideas die, unseen, from lack of development. Development is the difference between an outline and a draft, an idea and a proposal, a thought and a plan. Many teachers try to ensure good development by giving page minimums for assignments, but usually what they really want is not a certain number of pages but a certain level of development. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have anything to say,” or “I don’t know what to say,” you should practice the moves in this chapter. A writer who has summed up the germ of an idea in a sentence or two may well feel that she has “said it all.” “We should just respect the earth. What more is there to say?” The activities in this chapter are designed to stir up connections, relationships, examples, generalizations, all the materials that answer “What comes next?” Using developing strategies can be appropriate, even necessary, at almost any stage in the writing process. Obviously the ideas generated by discovery activities need to be developed, if only to give the writer a clear sense of whether the initial idea will pan out. The great idea that peters out after a page holds less promise than the conflict that keeps getting more complex as each page leads on to another. We may also need to develop later in the writing Develop    187 process—sometimes good proofreading will reveal to the writer a hole or gap in the logic of a presentation, an aside or tangent that doesn’t fully make sense, a term that needs to be defined or a generalization that needs an example. Purposes of Developing Occasionally,theonlycommunicationrequiredof usisasimpleyesorno.Much more often, developing our initial response by expanding—adding details, explanations, definitions, connections—will make our communication • more concrete • more interesting for the reader • more persuasive • more lively and compelling • more memorable Even if you’re limited by having a small amount of space or a word maximum , develop your ideas as much as possible and then condense them, rather than shoot for the required length from the beginning. Writing about something complex in a limited number of words may be the writer’s hardest task. In the developing stage, many writers do the work that will make their writing stand out: they come up with hundreds of telling details and select the best one; they create a scene with enough sensory information to make it come alive; they show that the summarized idea isn’t so simple when it’s expanded. Developing often requires the writer to change perspectives, at least temporarily , in order to see more completely everything involved. Some of my choices for the chapter may surprise you; you may think of “thesis,” for instance, as a limiting or organizing factor rather than a developing one. But a good thesis opens up possibilities for the writer, showing the writer within what narrow boundaries the paper can grow. And even though most of the moves in this chapter position the writer alone, developing can be a very social stage. Catch good ideas wherever you find them! Developing Moves Any form of writing develops the writer’s idea, whether it’s fleshing out a scene, listing reasons for a decision, adding details to a memory, or giving examples of someone’s job performance. If you’re putting down meaningful words, you’re developing. (And if your words aren’t meaningful, our slang has a specific and biting term for what you’re doing—BS.) It’s worth playing with some of these moves even if you can’t make them directly relevant to your own writing project; many writers need to convince themselves that they CAN develop material. And as you’re making these moves, keep track of information that you need to look up or gather. That will make the transition to the next set of moves easier. 188    MOves Experiment The following moves involve mental changes that might result in changes in your paper. Change perspective (move 81). Prodding yourself to look at your subject in new ways and from new angles can reveal to you how much more there is to say about it and help you develop it in surprising directions. In their book, Rhetoric: Discovery and Change, Young, Becker, and Pike (1970) suggest a series of metaphors from physics. First, they say, look at your subject as a particle or object: what do your senses tell you about it? What parts...


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  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
  • Literary form -- Study and teaching.
  • Language arts.
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