The Sentence Smart's Writer's Guide
When you are analyzing any text, there are at least three central or important questions that must be answered:
- Who or what is the writer mostly talking about? In other words who or what is the writer’s subject? To put it even more simply: which person, place, thing, or idea is the writer talking about?
- What is the writer saying about that subject? In other words, what is the writer saying about that person, place, thing, or idea?
- How does the writer choose and arrange words and groups of words to communicate important ideas clearly? In other words, how does the writer answer the question that every writer (including you) must answer: “What goes where and why?”
Skimming and Scanning the passage: Step One
To begin answering these questions, you must look carefully and quickly at the title of the passage and any introductory material that is given about the passage. Then, you must look over the entire passage quickly to get a basic idea of who or what the writer is talking about. This process is called skimming or scanning the passage.
Question Creation: Step Two
Once you have a basic sense of who or what the passage is mostly about, place that subject in the center of a circle and begin to create questions about that key person, place, thing, or idea.
Use being, action, and helping verbs to create important questions about this subject. These are questions that the writer may have answered in the passage, or they’re questions that you think are important to ask and answer about the subject.
For example: Put the subject in the blank below and create the following question:
Who or what is (or are) ___________?