National Writing Project

Contracting Texts

By: James Drickey
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 2
Date: March 1979

Summary: Drickey explains his technique of "contracting texts," a variation on précis writing, as a way of teaching the clear thinking essential to competent writing.


Excerpt from Article

It is perhaps obvious that clear thinking leads inevitably to clear writing. The most essential part of the teaching of composition, I believe, is the teaching of clear thinking. If a student is convinced that he has something to say, he can write. Because I teach composition as part of an American Literature survey course meeting only forty minutes, three days a week, I do not have a great deal of class time to spend on writing. Most of my writing instruction gets done on an individual basis. But since the problem of unclear thinking is almost universal, I found it more efficient to deal with it in class. I needed something that could be taught and learned quickly, and something that would improve students' structured writing. A skill called contracting texts solved my problem.

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