How is the more formal nature of a draft different from the informal nature of pre-writing?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pre-writing is the same as brainstorming.  This means a few things.  First of all - anything and everything goes.  It is an opportunity to get every single thought down on paper - even the bad ones that will never make it into the draft.  Prewriting is best done quickly - and can be written in the same way you might take notes.  This means shorthand is okay, lists are okay, arrows and circles connecting ideas are encouraged, scratching out and underlining, all of these things are allowed in the pre-writing process.

The draft however, even if it is simply an initial or rough draft - should be written formally - meaning, in complete sentences which are hopefully organized into paragraphs.  A rough draft does not need to be perfect, understandably it could go through several changes, but it should be written in the way the final paper is going to look and sound.

This is why I encourage my students to write very complete outlines (also part of pre-writing).  By the time you get to the drafting stage - you do not want to be making major organizational changes.  It is almost too difficult to do when reading a paper in full sentences and paragraphs.  It is much easier to look at the skeleton and see where entire sections need to be tweaked, moved, or completely cut.  It is also easier to see in the later parts of the pre-writing stage - major points that may be missing.  Once your paper is in the rough draft stage - it might seem very long (and no doubt, possibly tedius by this point) - so noticing major holes is a little harder to do.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous thoughts were very strong.  I would say that the idea of informal writing allows a more free and explorative nature of the writing process.  The more formal nature of a draft indicates some level of finality in the thought process.  Decisions have been made and process has given way to product, to a certain extent, as the writing becomes increasingly formalized.  However, I think that the informal nature of prewriting is where thought is in its most raw form, and in this, I think that writing and thought comes alive.  To a great extent, the informal nature of writing is where the purity of thought is most alive because it is in its most untamed form.  As it becomes more streamlined, more tamed and more subdued, it is when the formal nature of drafts becomes evident.  Yet, I think that both are needed as part of the writing process and the indispensable nature of pre- writing becomes more apparent when seen in this synergistic context.  At some level, all writing is a process.  Even the writing in a draft is a process because writing, as a medium, can never be considered complete.  Yet, it is in its most elemental form in the untamed and informal base of pre- writing.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many writing experts distinguish between brainstorming (invention) and pre-writing.

Brainstorming refers to the initial stage of writing when our purpose as writers is just to generate as many potential ideas as possible. We try not to edit or judge the quality of those ideas; we just generate. The "technical" term for brainstorming is invention.

Following the brainstorming, we enter the pre-writingstage. In this stage, we begin to filter out the good ideas we've generated from the not-so-good ideas. We keep some ideas and discard others and begin to organize the ideas we keep into a logical progression. Making an outline is an example of the pre-writing stage. In essence we are moving beyond the simple generating of ideas and are beginning to shape our eventual essay.

Pre-writing is generally considered informal because it is something the writer does for his or her own benefit and (typically) does not share with an audeince. Drafting is more formal because the draft is typically shared with an audience of responders who provide guidance and input on perceived strengths and weaknesses.