Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas The Six Traits The Six Traits of Writing represent the things that we can observe, assess, revise, and edit in any piece of writing. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Focus on Ideas Good ideas are clear, unique, and interesting thoughts carefully chosen to meet the needs of the reader. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Ideas answer the following questions: • Who? My sister • What? My sister won the race. • When? My sister won the race yesterday. • Where? Ideas can be thoughts, facts, opinions, observations, evidence, or details. My sister won the race at the track meet yesterday. • Why? My sister, who trains harder than anyone else I know, won the race at the track meet yesterday. • How? My sister trains harder than anyone else I know. She won the race at the track meet yesterday by beating the previous record. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Details Details are additional (sometimes smaller) ideas that help explain, elaborate, or give more information. Good writers add details to help a reader more fully experience the topic. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Details Read the following portion of a rough draft. Are there enough details for you to clearly experience the topic? The house across the street from mine is really old and messed up. You can really tell that nobody has lived there for months. Now read the revised version of the same passage. Can you identify the details that the author added to bring the writing to life? The peeling paint and sagging roof on the house across the street really show its age. Dozens of newspapers have accumulated at the base of the broken front porch stairs. The grass in the yard is knee-high. It hasn’t been mowed in months. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Sensory Details Sensory details are ideas that help the reader fully experience the topic. Sensory details relate to • Sight Thin rays of bright sunlight filtered through the canopy of leaves. • Sound Birds squawked and chipmunks chattered overhead. • Smell The smells of pine and decaying leaves filled my nostrils. • Touch Wildflowers and tall grass brushed my legs with each step. • Taste I quenched my thirst with a mouthful of clear, cold stream water. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Ideas and Audience Good writers choose ideas based upon the needs of the audience. For example, if you were writing to tell a group of kindergarteners about the sun, you would probably want to include ideas that they could understand. The sun is a star like the other stars you can see in the night sky. It looks bigger than other stars because it is a lot closer to us. Earth moves around the sun in a circle called an orbit. The sun is very hot. On the other hand, if you were writing a report about the sun for your teacher in science class (who already knows a lot about the topic), you would probably want to include more specific and interesting ideas. The sun contains over 99% of the mass in our solar system. All planets in our solar system orbit the sun counterclockwise on a plane known as the ecliptic. The energy from this medium-sized star is equal to one-hundred billion tons of dynamite exploding every second. Writing Trait Introduction: Ideas Remember! • Ideas explain and describe who, what, when, where, why, and how. • Details are additional ideas that a writer uses to help a reader fully experience a topic. • Sensory details are ideas about sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. • Good writers choose ideas to specifically meet the needs of the audience.