DEFENDS Strategy for Writing and Editing

Throughout this entry there is reference to a planning form. I have discussed this in other areas, but I will recap for you. A basic planning form has room on the top of the page for your "Topic." Next there is space for you to rephrase the Topic as a Question. Your answer to this question goes next and will be your "Working Thesis." Following this your planning form will be in a classic outline arrangement. Point "I" will be your Introduction (which will include your thesis/theme). Point II-IV contain your main ideas along with supporting details. Point "V" will contain your conclusion.

The DEFENDS approach to writing is a task-specific writing strategy that is used along with organizational forms. DEFENDS guides students through the writing process, beginning with the planning stage and progressing through organizing ideas and proofreading. It assumes that research has been completed. The seven steps in the strategy are discussed below.

Decide on goals and theme

o Decide who will read the paper and what you hope will happen when they do.

o Decide what kind of information you need to communicate.

o Decide what your theme will be about.

o Note the theme on your planning form.

Estimate main ideas and details

o Think of at least two or three main ideas that will explain your theme.

o Make sure the main ideas are different.

o Note the main ideas on your planning form.

o Note at least three details that can be used to explain each main idea.

Figure the best order of main ideas and details

o Decide which main idea to write about first, second, etc. and note them on the planning form. Your order will change depending what type of essay you are going to be writing. Main ideas might be in chronological order or by order of importance. Regardless, the order should make sense in relation to your theme.

o For each main idea, note the best order for presenting the details on the planning form.

o Make sure the orders are logical.

Express the theme in the first sentence

o The first sentence of your essay should state what the essay is about. Basically, you are going to look at your topic and turn it into a question. The answer to this question is your thesis. This thesis should be the controlling idea of the entire paper/essay. If your central idea is strong then the paper will naturally flow from this. This is also a measure for the rest of your paper. You will use your thesis or controlling idea to keep yourself on track.

o For longer papers, the theme should be stated somewhere in the first paragraph or section.

Note each main idea and supporting points

o Note your first main idea using a complete sentence; explain this main idea using the details you ordered earlier.

o Tell yourself positive statements about your writing and tell yourself to write more.

o Repeat for each of the other main ideas.

Drive home the message in the last sentence

o Restate what your theme was about in the last sentence or last paragraph. You should ask your self if the paper was consistent with your original thesis or controlling idea. If the paper veered from the original idea then this is a good place to reevaluate and go back into the paper.

o Be sure to use different wordings when repeating your theme.

Search for errors and correct them

o Look for different kinds of errors in your essay and correct them. The point of this guide is to allow you, as a self-editor, to have an organized approach to editing. It often helps to go through your essay several different times, each time searching for different types of errors or problems. Use the following as a guide. S-E-A-R-C-H

 Set editing goals
 Examine your essay to see if it makes sense
 Ask yourself whether your message will be clear to others
 Reveal picky errors (capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.)
 Copy over neatly or retype
 Have a last look for errors

Adapted from the “Learning Strategies Database” provided by the Center for the Advancement of Learning at Muskingum University. http://www.muskingum.edu/~cal/database/general/