Breaking Up an Assignment into Smaller Pieces
Anser the following questions to break up the assignment into simpler, smaller pieces.
What kind of paper am I writing?
-What kind of paper am I writing?
-What skills am I being asked to use?
-What is my ultimate goal for this assignment?
The list below contains key words that will help you understand the paper you’re being asked to write. Do they look familiar? Click on any term that appears in your assignment for more information!
- Cause and Effect
- Narrative or Description
Who is my audience?
As we write, it’s important to remember that writing is meant to communicate something to a particular audience. The more you know about your audience’s knowledge assumptions, beliefs, and perspective, the easier it will be to write a convincing paper that your audience will respect.
In order to gain an understanding of your audience's expectations, try the following questions:
- Where is your audience from? What’s their background?
- Are they educated?
- What is their political affiliation?
- What do they do for a living?
- How old are they?
- Is your audience familiar with the text or topic?
- Are they likely to agree or disagree with your stance on the issue?
All of these factors influence how your audience will interpret the words on the page, so you’ll want to keep them in mind as you write. You’ll also need to consider your voice and tone.
Now that you know more about your audience and their expectations, you’ll want to make sure that your paper catches their attention and earns their respect. That means you’ll want to carefully consider the appropriate tone for your topic and especially for your audience.
Tone: the attitude that the writer shows towards both subject and reader.
In an age of “text speak”, tone can be crucial in understanding whether or not someone is genuinely angry with you or simply joking around. Think of the way you would speak to your best friend in a fight versus the way you would speak to her on her birthday; this shift can also be evident in your written work.
To determine an appropriate tone, ask yourself:
- Should you be casual or formal?
- Are you being condescending or understanding?
- Are you being preachy or informative?
- Is it appropriate to be sarcastic or should you be serious?
What are the assignment requirements?
As you read over your assignment, you’ll want to make sure you understand all of the steps that your instructor expects you to complete. You’ll also want to check to make sure that your ideas for the project will easily fit into the assignment goals and requirements.
Consider the project steps! Ask yourself:
- Is there one final due date, or do I have to turn in draft(s)?
- Am I required to turn anything in before the due date for approval?
- Do I need to find sources? Should I print them out or make copies?
Pay attention to the requirements! Look for:
- Required length (number of pages or specific word count)
- Number of required sources
- Types of sources you need (journal articles, books…Are web sources allowed?)
- Required formatting style (MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.)