- When you are give a writing assignment, your first step is to choose a specific topic that fits the requirements of the assignment. For example, your assignment might be to analyze any character in a story you have read for class. You would first choose the character you most wanted to write about.
- Once you have chosen your topic, you need to prewrite to generate ideas for your essay. Prewriting can be done in a number of ways. One prewriting technique is brainstorming. When you brainstorm, you list, in words or phrases, everything that comes to mind about your topic. Another method is freewriting. In freewriting, you write nonstop for a set period of time. If you cannot think of anything new to write about your topic, you keep writing until new ideas come to mind. Yet another method is to create a traditional outline, using roman numerals for major points, capital letters for points under the major ideas, numbers for points under the capital letters, and lowercase letters for ideas under the numbers. Furthermore, you can draw a cluster map to organize your ideas. For a cluster map, put your topic in a bubble in the center of the page. Draw spokes from the main bubble, and write subtopics in smaller bubbles at the end of the points. Each smaller bubble can have spokes and smaller bubbles containing related ideas.
- Once your ideas are generated and organized, you begin to write your first draft of your paper. The traditional essay will be five paragraphs long. The first paragraph is the introduction to the paper, and it contains a thesis statement, or statement of purpose, usually as its concluding sentence. The introductory paragraph is followed by three separate but related body paragraphs, and these are followed by a concluding paragraph. Sum up your paper in a memorable way in the concluding paragraph, but do not introduce new ideas.
- Save your first draft and return to it after a few hours or even a day has passed. Then read it with a fresh point of view. Check the contents of your essay against the instructions in your assignment to ensure that you have met all its requirements. Make sure that everything in the body of the essay related back directly to the thesis statement. If you find that you have strayed from your thesis, revise the thesis or revise the body. Be sure to use appropriate transitions to move your paper along. Transitions are words that signal the direction your writing is taking, such as furthermore, however, in conclusion, and therefore.
- Finally, allow some more time to pass, and return to your paper for a very careful proofreading. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. You may need to read your paper two or three times carefully before printing it out and submitting it for a grade.
Basic Paragraph Format
Topic sentence __________________________________
Sentence ______________________________________ 2nd body
Sentence ______________________________________ 3rd body
Sentence ______________________________________ (Up to 10 body sentences may be used if necessary, but do not stray from the topic. Each paragraph is developed from one topic.)
Essay Structure (Title—Centered)
This is your introductory paragraph. Begin with an interesting statement to “hook” your reader in. Continue to develop the introductory paragraph with at least three sentences. End the paragraph with your thesis statement, clearly expressing the purpose of the essay.
This is body paragraph one. This paragraph should be at least five sentences in length. Begin with a topic sentence, directly related to the thesis. Explore that topic further in the body sentences. Sum up or transition to the next body paragraph in the concluding sentence.
This is body paragraph two. This paragraph should be at least five sentences in length. Begin with a topic sentence, directly related to the thesis. Explore that topic further in the body sentences. Sum up or transition to the next body paragraph in the concluding sentence.
This is body paragraph three. This paragraph should be at least five sentences in length. Begin with a topic sentence, directly related to the thesis. Explore that topic further in the body sentences. Sum up in the concluding sentence.
This is the concluding paragraph. It can be as brief as two or three sentences. It is your opportunity to leave your reader with a memorable ending to your essay. Do not introduce a new topic here, but go beyond restating the thesis. Finally, remember to use appropriate transitions throughout the essay.