On Demand Writing for Students: Coaching Yourself for the SAT, ACT, and AP Essays

By Lynette Williamson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Real Writers Use Roadmaps

Whether it’s done with Roman numerals or bulleted with smiley faces, there’s no underestimating the importance of an outline in an on demand writing situation. On demand writing cannot grow organically—it cannot afford the time to trail off down side streets and stop for a Slurpee! It must have a destination in mind and a map that takes the writer—as well as the reader—there. In public speaking, we literally call this a “roadmap.”

Debaters in a formal round of competition will preface their speeches by saying “To offer a brief roadmap, I will first address this and that, followed by my analysis of yada yada, and conclude with tah dah.” Not only does this brief outline give the audience a sense of what’s to come, it gives the extemporaneous speaker a map to follow in her speech. She knows the order of her ideas, and, most important, she acknowledges that everything she says must be linked to that all-important conclusion—the final argument that could win her the round.

You probably have been coached in formulaic essay writing. The five-paragraph essay formula instructs you to place the thesis of the essay first. However, this only works with a great deal of prewriting and drafting and is often forced and unnatural. For proof that theses don’t always come first, consult professional editorials and columns. The theses—or essential claims—are usually found at the end

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