Determine the APPROACH you will take to the assigned
topic. Be sure your approach is within a manageable range (not too broad,
not too narrow).
- Formulate an effective THESIS STATEMENT. This statement will be
the main idea or central focus of your paper. Very often, it is a generalization that
prepares readers for the supporting details that follow.
- Write down ideas that SUPPORT YOUR THESIS statement.
- Organize your ideas into an OUTLINE, keeping in mind the method
or methods of paragraph development that you want to use (e.g., details, examples,
reasons, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, etc.). Construct the outline according to
INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH--This consists of general
points or attention grabbing details leading to the main idea. For instance, there are
several means that effective writers use to "hook" their readers:
beginning with an amusing or interesting anecdote, beginning with a question, beginning
with a quotation, and beginning with a startling or paradoxical statement. The main idea
is often written at the end of this paragraph in a thesis statement, which may also
contain three or more reasons (written very succinctly) for supporting this main idea.
Each of these reasons should be elaborated on in the body paragraphs that follow. Note: A
thesis statement does not always come at the end of the introductory paragraph--some
essays have the very first sentence as the thesis statement.
BODY PARAGRAPH #1--This often begins with a transition word or
words like "First" or "The first of these reasons" and gives examples
and/or details relating to the first supporting reason.
BODY PARAGRAPH #2--This often begins with a transition word or
words like "Next" or "Second" or "Another reason" or
"The second of these reasons" and gives examples and/or details relating to the
second supporting reason.
BODY PARAGRAPH #3--This often begins with a transition word or
words like "Finally" or Last" or "The final reason" and gives
examples and/or details relating to the third supporting reason (which is often the
strongest of the three supporting reasons).
CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH--This paragraph may begin with "In
conclusion" or "To conclude" or "Clearly" and often restates the
thesis statement in different words. It may move from there to a general comment about
life, or to a final important point, or to a suggestion about future action that may be
needed. Some writers like to end with a relevant quotation, or end with a question, or end
with a prediction or warning. Another concluding technique is to end with some idea or
detail from the beginning of the essay (thus bringing this idea full circle)
- Using your outline, begin your rough draft. Make sure that every sentence is
directly related to your topic (as stated in your thesis statement).
- When you've finished your rough copy, revise and edit it by adding, deleting,
rearranging, and substituting material. Use a dictionary and a thesaurus. Correct errors
in spelling (use the spell-checking feature of your word processing program),
capitalization, punctuation, subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, pronoun
agreement, sentence errors, and usage.
- Now ask yourself the following questions:
With regard to UNITY: Is my essay unified? Do all parts
contribute to the main idea? Have I avoided digression? Have I supported all
generalizations that I made? Have I given enough emphasis to each part of my essay?
With regard to STRUCTURE: Is my introduction interesting? Will
it catch the reader's interest? Does my thesis statement clearly delineate my assigned
subject? Does my conclusion give a sense of finality or completion?
With regard to PARAGRAPHING AND TRANSITION: Does the first
sentence of each paragraph provide an idea about what each paragraph discusses? Has each
sentence been developed properly, using one or more of the following methods for
developing paragraphs: examples, details, reasons, comparisons contrast, cause or effect,
etc.? Does each sentence relate directly to the purpose of the paper as stated in the
thesis statement? Is there a clear transition from the last sentence of each paragraph to
the first sentence of the next paragraph? Have I used effective transitional words or
With regard to COHERENCE: Have I used effective transitional
words and phrases to connect the sentences so that they flow smoothly from one to the next
and are coherent (i.e., "stuck together" or clearly connected)?
With regard to SENTENCES: Have I used mainly complex (rather
than simple) sentences and used a variety of different sentence lengths?
With regard to DICTION: Have I removed all slang, jargon, and
unnecessary cliches from my diction? Is my vocabulary sophisticated and vibrant?
With regard to FOOTNOTING AND BIBLIOGRAPHY: Have I introduced
and handled quotations properly and acknowledged accurately in footnotes and a proper
bibliography everything that requires acknowledgment? Note: A good style
text that covers footnoting and creating a bibliography is an essential tool for the essay
It is easy to use and pass
off as one's own the ideas or writings of another. This is especially true now that we
have access to so much information on the Internet. It is possible to copy and
paste information from the Internet (without citing references) to get an instant essay,
report, or term paper. This is called plagiarism and is an unacceptable practice.
The following sources provide valuable information on how to avoid plagiarism: