Invention Strategies

Goal: To discover details about the topic of your essay which will paint a vivid picture for the reader. Also, invention strategies help explore the focus and the significance of the essay. Try to use a smaller moment within the essay with some of these; instead of trying to cluster on your whole essay, choose one scene or section. These will work with remembering events or other personal narrative essays, but can be adapted to work with any subject or genre of essay.


Pick specific things to cluster on about this subject (event); don't try to cluster the entire event. That is too overwhelming, and too large. Always use the specific thing (scene or mini-event) in the center circle, then web out, concentrating on one of the following things per cluster:

**Note: you can also do freewriting for 5-10 minutes (you decide how long you write for) on any of these items, or some that you think of yourself. Remember, to focus in will allow you to get to the important small details.


List at least 4 or 5 items, so you can have a choice of what to develop later. Lists can consist of one-word items or phrases; the development comes later, in writing. You can run lists on the following things:

**Note: As soon as you develop these lists, you can freewrite about the items to get some more focused detail about them, some meat for your paper.


This can help you get a hold of your characters' voices, as well as help you recall some things that you might have spoken about.

Write a dialogue between you and a particular character, focusing the conversation on one of the following:

**Use one letter to designate that person and one to designate you. Don't think about punctuating or spelling or grammar; just try to capture their words, their dialects, the way they talk about things and the way they talk to you about them.


Try some of these to help you think about your relationship to your remembered person in concrete terms, rather than abstractions. Remember the rules of freewriting, according to Natalie Goldberg: Keep your hand moving; Don't cross out; Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar; Lose control; Don't think, Don't get logical; Go for the jugular (Writing Down the Bones, p.8)

These things can give you some great comparisons, similes and metaphors to use in describing this event. It can also help you see the significance this event has to you.

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