Invention describes that stage of composing when you search for the ideas, general and specific, that you will include in your paragraph or essay. it is the planning stage in the composing process.
Ø is the first step in composing
may go on
throughout the composing process
Two sorts of thinking occur
during the inventive stage:
1. Discovering: Here the emphasis is on what you already know, on pulling from your memory ideas and examples that will fit the writing assignment.
Here the emphasis is on the necessity for inventing new ideas and new
ways of explaining old ones. As
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, which was a new way, in 1876, for
people to talk to each other, you will invent on a smaller scale every time you
the following diagram:
Invention is the “hard part” of writing, the stage when even
professional writers “tear their hair” and become frustrated.
For most people inventing is still “hard” even when they become good
writers. It can be easier, however, if you have a method that directs
your thinking and helps stimulate your memory.
This lesson will provide you with direction for three methods of discovering and inventing what to say in your papers. Good writers usually have a plan of attack, a method that will help them decide when and how to start writing. Usually, they use this plan in the beginning stages of composing, but for most people inventing (getting ideas) goes on during the entire composing process. Sometimes you will find a good idea near the end of your work and that will mean that you need to revise some of what you have already written so that you can use the new idea.
You may like one of these methods of invention better
than the others or you may come up with your own method.
What is most important is for you to discover your own method of
invention—a plan of attack that helps you begin writing.
Brainstorming is a group activity. It was developed in government “think tanks” where groups of experts were brought together to solve big problems. The plan was for them to defer judgment and explore any idea tossed out by the group—even ideas that seemed impossible to begin with. Brainstorming has two theoretical assumptions: first, that two heads—or three or four or more—are better than one, and second, that quantity eventually produces quality.
You might use brainstorming in your tutoring group or workshop or
studying for a test with a few friends. Brainstorming
can work as a solitary activity, but it works best if you give it some direction
as in looping.
Looping is very much like brainstorming in that the idea is to get yourself to throw out all sorts of ideas and then to go back over them to decide which ones you want to use. Both looping and brainstorming encourage you to say (or write) anything at all on the topic, the theory being that you know more than you think you know. Then when you actually begin to write your paper, you will not have a problem finding something to write. (Your problem will be how to say it or how to organize it.)
Looping is an activity that you can do by yourself.
Get several sheets of clean paper and your favorite pen, and sit down
somewhere where you can write comfortably.
with a specific topic.
nonstop for 10 minutes.
changes or corrections.
center of gravity sentence for each loop before going on to the next one.
Here is how to do looping:
1. Start with a topic, one you have been assigned or one you want to write about. Write the topic at the top of a blank sheet of paper.
write without stopping for 10 minutes. Do
not censor anything you write and do not stop writing even if you have to write
something like this: “I do not want to do this assignment.
I do not know anything about XXXXX. I hate writing more than anything I
can think of.” Do not worry about
correctness either. In fact, do not
even try to correct anything. Concentrate on getting down in some form everything you are
thinking about the topic. Do not
worry about complete sentences or correct spelling.
No one will see the looping but you.
have written for 10 minutes, stop and read over what you have written.
Then write a center of gravity sentence, one sentence that explains what
you have got so far. For example, if you have been looping on love, you may come
up with the following center of gravity sentence:
“Everyone describes being in love differently.”
The center of gravity sentence should represent the most important or
most useful idea to come out of the looping.
That is the end of the first loop. Now do it again, using the center of gravity sentence in place of the original topic. Write it at the top of a second blank sheet and begin looping again. Write continuously for 10 minutes on the new topic; stop and review that you have written; write a second center of gravity sentence. Then make the second center of gravity sentence the topic and loop a third time. Three times should be enough for you to get enough ideas to start writing; however, use the looping technique as long as it helps you. Remember you want to develop your own system of getting ideas.
Your teacher may ask you practice looping in the class, but remember that
in order to give the technique a fair try, you should try it at home alone,
perhaps for your next writing assignment or in your journal if you are keeping
Another technique for inventing is cubing. As with looping, you begin with a topic, one assigned by a teacher or one you want to write about.
The theory behind cubing is that you will have something different to say
about a subject if you look at it from a different perspective.
Imagine that you were a witness to an accident that took place on the
street immediately below a second story window in which you were standing.
What are the chances that you would describe the accident differently
than the woman in the car behind the accident?
Would a person standing at the corner tell it differently?
Do not forget that looking from different perspectives is only a metaphor
and that every change in perspective is not a physical one. In the example above, we are talking about actual physical
positions. In cubing, we are
interested in more abstract perspectives.
Now, imagine a cube: a solid block with writing on
all six sides.
One side of the cube says: Describe it.
Another side of the cube says: Compare it.
A third side of the cube says: Associate it.
A fourth side of the cube says: Analyze it.
A fifth side of the cube says: Apply it.
A sixth side of the cube says: Argue for or against it.
are only two rules for cubing:
1. Use all six sides of the cube.
fast. Spend no more than 3-5
minutes on each side.
Now practice cubing:
Look at the subject closely and describe what you see. Colors, shapes, sizes, and so forth. If the topic is not a physical thing, define it. One describes a friend; one defines friendship.
What is it similar to? What is it different from?
What does it make you think of? What comes into your mind? It can be similar things, or you can think of different things, different times, places, people. Just let your mind go and see what associations you have for this subject.
Tell how it is made, what its parts are. If you do not know, make it up for now.
Tell what you can do with it, how it can be used.
Argue for or against it.
Go ahead and take a stand. Use any kind of reasons you want to—rational, silly, or anywhere in between.
When you have finished, look back over the cubing exercise and decide which angle or perspective seems most promising for an essay.
on cubing and looping adapted from Cowan and Cowan, Writing.
New York: Wiley, 1980.