Many didactic paths realized during the project aim to develop and consolidate writing skills. Here are presented some general considerations on how to learn and teach how to write, which apply to all the paths and must not be repeated in this way every time. It is advisable to read them before consulting the more specific cards.
The writing process
Writing a text is a very complex activity, which can be divided into at least three major phases, which had already identified the ancients.
Invention (inventio). First of all it is necessary to generate ideas or collect them from the sources, identifying what is to be said. If you have nothing to say, or little, or it is not clear what you have to say, there is not even the text. The things to say can come from our mind (and in this case we speak of a brainstorming, to make the brain whisk) or from sources we consult. The ideas generated in this way will be collected in homogeneous groups, real “conceptual boxes”.
Disposition (dispositio). Once the ideas are collected, they must be given an effective order. ‘Effective’ may mean maximally clear and linear, if the purpose is clarity; but we can also choose orders that are a little less clear but have other purposes, such as surprises, keeping attention alive, convincing. At this stage the ideas will be organized in a lineup.
Editorial (elocutio). Once the order in which the ideas appear, it is necessary to write them in sentences, that is to generate the linguistic form of the text. This form will have to be precise, clear and correct: therefore, several revisions will be necessary to put it in order.
The first two phases mainly concern thinking: writing plays a very important role in this, because it helps thought to organize itself, to see ideas and play with it, but it is an instrumental role in taking notes and drawing up diagrams. Only the third phase is actually about writing a text. It is essential to keep the two phases well separated: first we think, then we write the text. Many people, even well educated, have not yet understood this fundamental principle, and they mix the two activities: they think of an idea, they write it, then they try to get another idea into their head, they write it, then they read again what they have written since there, they try to generate another idea, but they realize that perhaps he was better before and then begin to cancel, to put arrows and asterisks, to reformulate the first two sections. The result is often an inconsistent text, with a purely associative logic and without a clear global structure; or, if we succeed in giving it a coherent structure, this happens at the price of an unnecessarily long and tiring editorial process.
The first two phases can be described as a thought assisted by writing; the third one as writing that is based on a clear and well-organized thought.
Inexperienced writers, who do not separate these phases, follow the strategy of “writing what is known”: as they generate ideas, they write them, more or less in the order of their appearance, without an overall plan. The most expert writers instead use writing to “transform what is known”: the possibility of annotating ideas and organizing them in various ways is an indispensable tool for developing logical, complex, paradigmatic thinking that would not be possible with pure orality
The first two phases of the writing process serve to give consistency to the text, that is, the logic that connects ideas together in a meaningful and understandable way. In the third phase we are concerned with cohesion, that is, with linguistic indicators that indicate the relationships between different parts of the text. Among these cohesive mechanisms we report:
– The repetition of the referent, such as in Gianna has many friends. His best friend is a dancer.
– Pronouns. The pronoun refers either to an entity that can be identified either in the extralinguistic context (it was he, pointing to a person present) or in the linguistic context (Giovanni turned a lot. It was he who broke the glass). In the first case we speak of a deictic reference, that is to say reconstructable through a gesture that indicates something; in the second anaphoric reference, that is, which is understood by referring to a portion of text previously set forth.
– The zero anaphora. In Italian it is possible to underline the subject of a sentence, if it can be easily reconstructed from the linguistic context. In these cases it is said that the anaphoric form is not a pronoun, but ‘zero’, as in Mara it is very sporty:  has won many medals.
– Synonyms, hyponyms and hypernyms. One can refer to the same entity using words of equal meaning (synonyms, which however are almost never perfectly equivalent, but always imply some nuance of different meaning), or words of more general meaning (hypernyms) or more specific (hyponyms). For example: The walls of modern buildings are very thin, while the walls of ancient buildings were very thick (synonym); In my garden there is an old lime tree: it is a majestic tree (hyperonimia); See that tree down there? It is the largest lime tree in Italy (hyponymy).
– Textual connectives. Several words serve to signal the connections between different parts of the text, indicating temporal relationships (after, then, before, when), causal (because, since, given that), argumentative (therefore, therefore, however) and many others. Teachers often complain that pupils do not know how to use connectives well: however, we need to ask ourselves if behind an inappropriately used connective there is really an inability to use the connective or rather a misunderstanding of the link that unites the concepts . Usually boys use connectives badly when talking about topics they know little about, like ancient history, while we almost never find confusion between them, because in fact if they are talking about their favorite sport. In short, most of the time the problems lie in the poor coherence of ideas, and not in the scarce knowledge of the linguistic forms that express them.
The cohesive mechanisms are found in both oral and written texts: in both cases they serve to show the coherence between different parts of the text, their thematic continuity. For this reason, the way in which the reference to entities is managed is particularly important. When a new referent is introduced in the text, it is normally indicated with an indefinite noun phrase (There was a little girl …). Subsequent mentions can be made by pronouns (… and all wanted them very well; and everyone always spoke with her) or zero anafore (… One day  woke up early): in these cases we speak of anaphoric chains, or referential. If the flow of events concerning that character is interrupted, because other characters are introduced or information is given about the setting, when the reference to it is resumed, this happens with a full nominal phrase, as in the first introduction, but with a definite determinant (the girl ). Obviously these mechanisms also work with non-narrative texts and with reference to inanimate entities: We have taken a basin full of water. We put it on a table. Then we cut the apples and pears into slices and put them in the bowl.