Full Circle Writing: 
 To Explore, Focus and Support A Topic

ABOUT THIS TOOL: This writing can generate several kinds of material from various angles that can then be sharpened, reorganized, expanded, and supported with outside sources to make the shape and substance of a finished paper or other writing. Full circles explorations can be used for formal or informal writing, as a way of clarifying a writer's thinking, and as building blocks for any composing process. If these parts all seem to be calling-up similar points, don't worry, it means those areas of thinking are fairly sure. If there is lots of discontinuity, it may mean the focus is not yet clear (needs more exploratory writing/thinking) or that the topic may need to be changed to a better one.                                                                                                 
EACH PART can be done more than once, just use a subheading or the part number to show which one you are focusing on.

State the TOPIC to explore:________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PART 1. FIRST THOUGHTS, PREJUDICES, PRECONCEPTIONS (100-200wds.): To jog ideas, maybe start with "When I think of (this topic/subject) it occurs to me______; I wonder about______; Then I think______;" etc. (<THESE PHRASES PROBABLY WILL NOT BE PART OF FINAL PRODUCT)-- Write quickly whatever occurs off the top of the head: hunches, feelings, images, wishes, snapshots of what you bring to this topic, and what brings you to it. Try to be careless and write through what you may already have in mind. Get carried away; you don't have to include these ideas.... [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT: this material can provide insight into the writer's initial assumptions and serve as evidence of writer's thought process.]


PART 2. MOMENTS, STORIES, PORTRAITS (100-200wds.): Sketch in any moments, events, and people that seem to be connected with this topic from personal experience, stories you've heard, seen on TV, read about etc. Don't try to explain or interpret, or intentionally connect them, just record as clearly as possible. Use the 5 senses and figurative language to capture the life in these specific, real world examples. [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT: As evidence that's easy for a reader to understand which supports and explains key points or position--a way to use description to help reader experience the situation.]


PART 3. [OPTIONAL EXCEPT FOR POSITION PAPERS] STATE ANY OPPOSITE POINTS OF VIEW TO YOURS AND POSSIBLE REASONS: (list 3-5).  [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT-Can serve as fair understanding of another point of view or start of counter-argument ]

PART 4. SAYINGS, LIES, MISCONCEPTIONS, QUESTIONS (list 5-10): Brainstorm folk sayings (i.e., a penny saved is a penny earned...), questions, etc., that you've heard, read about or just occur to you that relate to this topic. Don't explain them; simply list. [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT: can help expand understanding of the issue in ordinary language or via relevant cultural values, and these can serve as provocative parts of a title for finished paper.]


PART 5. EXPLAIN THIS ISSUE/TOPIC TO A READER WHO HAS LITTLE OR NO KNOWLEDGE OF IT OTHER THAN WHAT YOU SAY (100-200wds.).If you do this more than once, try convincing a reader who has a very different view than yours to agree with you, or just to entertain your views. [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT: Often, this is a keystone part of the presentation. The more accurate and clear this is worded, the better the reader understands the situation.]


PART 6. WHAT I SEEM TO BE SAYING, OR WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS... (50-75wds.). This can be inserted even 2-3 times in the loop to check the effect of any stage of the thinking as it evolves. Be alert to elements that may be key to supporting your position or that may affect changes in your thought/claim and the supports that will be evidence/examples.  Loop must end with a part 6. [POSSIBLE USE IN FINISHED PROJECT: provides some clear, concise statements from which a working thesis/main claim and title can come. The substance of this part is really the core of the finished PROJECT. It also reveals your subtle reasoning.]


Try arranging/reading these "rough" parts in several different sequences (even the one this form uses...) to see which order seems most natural to the material and your reasoning. Try doing another part 6 anytime clarity seems to need sharpening.  

NOTE: This tool is based on the work of various authoritative voices in Composition including Pat Belanoff, Peter Elbow, Ken Macrorie, Toby Fulwiler, and Gabrielle Rico . JT

Copyright - Jane Thielsen ~ 2011  -All rights reserved