Writing Survival Guide

Pit Bull Brainstorming: Invention Strategies for Composition

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

Listen to the downloadable audio file: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/pit-bulls.mp3

Brainstorming is an invention strategy for composition that can take many forms. While some find it useful to use diagrams, outlines, decision trees, and clusters, those tactics tend to focus on the "what" instead of the "how" and the "why." In order to approach deeper issues, and to trigger chains of thoughts, a very powerful technique is to develop series of questions.

This brainstorming exercise revolves around questions that trigger questions. It is a chain of questions, or, one could say a "great concatenation of questions." This approach is extremely useful for causal essays, as well as basic argumentation. One topic that certainly helps illustrate the technique is that of the American Pit Bull Terrier. It seems that attacks by pit bulls just keep increasing. Why is it happening? What are we doing about it? Are some dog breeds being labeled "bad breeds"?

I'm using the question about whether or not communities should have "breed bans" as an example. Use this approach for any topic -- you'll be surprised how effect it is, especially as you try to get started, and you are not sure how to see multiple sides of the same issue.

pit bull brainstorming

Audio: I listened to an interesting report on National Public Radio entitled, "Targeting Aggressive Dog Breeds in California." I accessed it through the National Public Radio website located here:

I was able to listen to the show using Real Player, which I had downloaded for free from the Internet. Alternatively, I could have listened to it using Windows Media Player.

Questions immediately came to mind. I thought about the general questions, and I found my questions were helping me narrow my topic.

The questions can also be thought of as cluster analysis questions, and can be used in conjunction with mind-mapping.

The perplexing questions first:
Why do pit pulls attack people, and how can such a tiny dog be so dangerous?
Who says they're bad? Why are they saying it?
What do some people want to do? Where? Why?

History and background thoughts:
Why are pit bulls aggressive? Were they bred that way?
What is a pit bull, and what makes it so dangerous?
Who uses the ultra-aggressive pit bulls?
Who might need such an aggressive dog?

seated pit bull

The other side of the coin:
What is good about a pit bull?
Why do some people say the breed is very loving?
Can pit bulls be friendly, happy dogs?

Let's get personal:
What would I do if I had a pit bull?
Training, conditioning, behavior modification
Are there any business opportunities here? Yes! one can specialize in deprogramming dangerous dogs; also, let your city become the pit bull dumping ground next to a major metropolitan area (all dogs must be muzzled, though)
Dog chow for ultra aggressive dogs (make them more aggressive) -- is there and ethical issue here?
Pacifying dog chow (calm down and tranquilize the dogs)

Pit Bulls and Dog Fighting: Current Issues

What Is it About Pit Bulls? http://www.moderndogmagazine.com/articles/what-it-about-pit-bulls/17294

Arguments For and Against Breed-Specific Bans

Impact of Breed Bans on Human Owners -- "An Actor's Death Puts a Spotlight on Breed Bans and Grieving Over the Loss of a Pet" http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/an-actors-death-puts-a-spotlight-on-breed-bans-and-grieving-over-the-loss-of-a-pet?WT.mc_id=Outbrain_6413183

Vick on Course for Animal Empathy: http://viviangrant.wordpress.com/2007/10/04/vick-on-course-for-animal-empathy/

Trained to be Killers, Vick's Pit Bulls Now on Death Row: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/2007/08/30/2007-08-30_trained_to_be_killers_vicks_pit_bulls_no.html

My Pit Bull Brainstorming "cloud" -- make connections

Pit Bull Rescue Central: http://www.pbrc.net/

pit bull terriers, composition strategies, brainstorming techniques, concept mapping, clusters of thoughts, invention techniques, first year composition, mad dog, mauling dogs, 76-year-old-woman mauled by pit bull as grandchildren watch in horror, Denver bans pit bulls, Nederland, Colorado becomes aggressive breed haven, new kennel accepts cast-off killer canines

Useful Websites for Information

Pit Bull Primer: There are two sides to the pit bull banning debate
San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 2005

Pit Bull Mix Mauls 60-Year-Old Man

Pit Bull Attack Places Breed Ban in the Spotlight
Suburban Chicago News, November 20, 2005

Miami Votes to Keep Ban on Pit Bulls
August 16, 2012

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