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3.3: Drafting

  • Page ID
    28068
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    Drafting

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    The Importance of Drafting

    Drafting is the stage of the writing process in which you develop a complete first version of a piece of writing. Even professional writers admit that an empty page scares them because they feel they need to come up with something fresh and original every time they open a blank document on their computers. Because you have completed the first two steps in the writing process, you have already recovered from empty page syndrome.

    You have prewriting and planning already done, so you know what will go on that blank page: what you wrote in your outline.

    Goals and Strategies for Drafting

    Your objective at this stage of the writing process is to draft an essay with at least three body paragraphs, which means that the essay will contain a minimum of five paragraphs, including an introduction and a conclusion. A draft is a complete version of a piece of writing, but it is not the final version. The step in the writing process after drafting, as you may remember, is revising.

    During revision, you will have the opportunity to make changes to your first draft before you put the finishing touches on it during the editing and proofreading stage. A first draft gives you a working version that you can later improve.

    If you are more comfortable starting on paper than on the computer, you can start on paper and then type it before you revise. You can also use a voice recorder to get yourself started, dictating a paragraph or two to get you thinking.

    In this lesson, Mariah does all her work on the computer, but you may use pen and paper or the computer to write a rough draft.

    Making the Writing Process Work for You

    The following approaches, done alone or in combination with others, may improve your writing and help you move forward in the writing process:

    • Begin writing with the part you know the most about. You can start with the third paragraph in your outline if ideas come easily to mind. You can start with the second paragraph or the first paragraph, too. Although paragraphs may vary in length, keep in mind that short paragraphs may contain insufficient support. Readers may also think the writing is abrupt. Long paragraphs may be wordy and may lose your reader?s interest. As a guideline, try to write paragraphs longer than one sentence but shorter than the length of an entire double-spaced page.
    • Write one paragraph at a time and then stop. As long as you complete the assignment on time, you may choose how many paragraphs you complete in one sitting. Pace yourself. On the other hand, try not to procrastinate. Writers should always meet their deadlines.
    • Take short breaks to refresh your mind. This tip might be most useful if you are writing a multipage report or essay. Still, if you are antsy or cannot concentrate, take a break to let your mind rest. But do not let breaks extend too long. If you spend too much time away from your essay, you may have trouble starting again. You may forget key points or lose momentum. Try setting an alarm to limit your break, and when the time is up, return to your desk to write.
    • Be reasonable with your goals. If you decide to take ten-minute breaks, try to stick to that goal. If you told yourself that you need more facts, then commit to finding them. Holding yourself to your own goals will create successful writing assignments.
    • Keep your audience and purpose in mind as you write. These aspects of writing are just as important when you are writing a single paragraph for your essay as when you are considering the direction of the entire essay.

    Of all of these considerations, keeping your purpose and your audience at the front of your mind is the most important key to writing success. If your purpose is to persuade, for example, you will present your facts and details in the most logical and convincing way you can. Your purpose will guide your mind as you compose your sentences.

    Your audience will guide word choice. Are you writing for experts, for a general audience, for other college students, or for people who know very little about your topic? Keep asking yourself what your readers, with their background and experience, need to be told in order to understand your ideas. How can you best express your ideas so they are totally clear and your communication is effective?

    You may want to identify your purpose and audience on an index card that you clip to your paper (or keep next to your computer). On that card, you may want to write notes to yourself, perhaps about what that audience might not know or what it needs to know, so that you will be sure to address those issues when you write. It may be a good idea to also state exactly what you want to explain to that audience, or to inform them of, or to persuade them about.

    Exercise: Identify Purpose and Audience

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    Using the topic for the essay that you have outlined, describe your purpose and your audience as specifically as you can.

    Use your own sheet of paper to record your responses. Then keep these responses near you during future stages of the writing process.

    Purpose: ______________________________________________

    Audience: _______________________________________________

    Discovering the Basic Elements of a First Draft

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    Step by Step

    If you have been using the information in the previous chapters step by step to help you develop an assignment, you already have both a formal topic outline and a formal sentence outline to direct your writing. Knowing what a first draft looks like will help you make the creative leap from the outline to the first draft.

    A first draft should include the following elements:

    • An introduction that piques the audience's interest, tells what the essay is about, and motivates readers to keep reading.
    • A thesis statement that presents the main point, or controlling idea, of the entire piece of writing.
    • A topic sentence in each paragraph that states the main idea of the paragraph and implies how that main idea connects to the thesis statement.
    • Supporting sentences in each paragraph that develop or explain the topic sentence. These can be specific facts, examples, anecdotes, or other details that elaborate on the topic sentence.
    • A conclusion that reinforces the thesis statement and leaves the audience with a feeling of completion.

    The Bowtie Method

    There are many ways to think about the writing process as a whole. One way to imagine your essay is to see it like a bowtie.

    In the figure below, you will find a visual representation of this metaphor. The left side of the bow is the introduction, which begins with a hook and ends with the thesis statement.

    In the center, you will find the body paragraphs, which grow with strength as the paper progresses, and each paragraph contains a supported topic sentence.

    On the right side, you will find the conclusion. Your conclusion should reword your thesis and then wrap up the paper with a summation, clinch, or challenge. In the end, your paper should present itself as a neat package, like a bowtie.

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    Starting Your First Draft

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    Now we are finally ready to look over Mariah's shoulder as she begins to write her essay about digital technology and the confusing choices that consumers face. As she does, you should have in front of you your outline, with its thesis statement and topic sentences, and the notes you wrote earlier in this lesson on your purpose and audience. Reviewing these will put both you and Mariah in the proper mind-set to start.

    The following is Mariah's thesis statement:

    E-book readers are changing the way people read.

    Here are the notes that Mariah wrote to herself to characterize her purpose and audience:

    Everyone wants the newest and the best digital technology, but the choices are many, and the specifications are often confusing.

    Purpose: My purpose is to inform readers about the wide variety of consumer digital technology available in stores and to explain why the specifications for these products, expressed in numbers that average consumer don't understand, often cause bad or misinformed buying decisions.

    Audience: My audience is my instructor and members of this class. Most of them are not heavy into technology except for the usual laptops, cell phones, and MP3 players, which are not topics I'm writing about. I'll have to be as exact and precise as I can be when I explain possibly unfamiliar product specifications. At the same time, they're more with it electronically than my grandparents? VCR-flummoxed generation, so I won?t have to explain every last detail.

    Mariah chose to begin by writing a quick introduction based on her thesis statement. She knew that she would want to improve her introduction significantly when she revised.

    Right now, she just wanted to give herself a starting point. Remember that she could have started directly with any of the body paragraphs. You will learn more about writing attention-getting introductions and effective conclusions later in this chapter.

    Outlining

    With her thesis statement and her purpose and audience notes in front of her, Mariah then looked at her sentence outline. She chose to use that outline because it includes the topic sentences.

    The following is the portion of her outline for the first body paragraph. The Roman numeral I identifies the topic sentence for the paragraph, capital letters indicate supporting details, and Arabic numerals label sub-points.

    Note
    1. Ebook readers are changing the way people read.
      1. Ebook readers make books easy to access and to carry.
        1. Books can be downloaded electronically.
        2. Devices can store hundreds of books in memory.
      2. The market expands as a variety of companies enter it.
        1. Booksellers sell their own ebook readers.
        2. Electronics and computer companies also sell ebook readers.
      3. Current ebook readers have significant limitations.
        1. The devices are owned by different brands and may not be compatible.
        2. Few programs have been made to duplicate the way Americans borrow and read printed books.

    Expanding to Paragraphs

    Mariah then began to expand the ideas in her outline into a paragraph. Notice how the outline helped her guarantee that all her sentences in the body of the paragraph develop the topic sentence.

    Ebook readers are changing the way people read, or so ebook developers hope. The main selling point for these handheld devices, which are sort of the size of a paperback book, is that they make books easy to access and carry. Electronic versions of printed books can be downloaded online for a few bucks or directly from your cell phone. These devices can store hundreds of books in memory and, with text-to-speech features, can even read the texts. The market for ebooks and ebook readers keeps expanding as a lot of companies enter it. Online and traditional booksellers have been the first to market ebook readers to the public, but computer companies, especially the ones already involved in cell phone, online music, and notepad computer technology, will also enter the market. The problem for consumers, however, is which device to choose. Incompatibility is the norm. Ebooks can be read only on the devices they were intended for. Furthermore, use is restricted by the same kind of DRM systems that restrict the copying of music and videos. So, book buyers are often unable to lend books to other readers, as they can with a read book. Few accommodations have been made to fit the other way Americans read: by borrowing books from libraries. What is a buyer to do?

    Organizing Your Work

    If you write your first draft on the computer, consider creating a new file folder for each course with a set of subfolders inside the course folders for each assignment you are given.

    Label the folders clearly with the course names, and label each assignment folder and word processing document with a title that you will easily recognize. The assignment name is a good choice for the document. Then use that subfolder to store all the drafts you create.

    When you start each new draft, do not just write over the last one. Instead, save the draft with a new tag after the title: draft 1, draft 2, and so on, so that you will have a complete history of drafts in case your instructor wishes you to submit them.

    In your draft documents, observe any formatting requirements for margins, headers, placement of page numbers, and other layout matters that your instructor requires.

    Exercise: Outlining

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    Following how Mariah made her sentence outline for her first draft, make an outline of your own paper. Mariah organized the outline in the following way:

    Roman numeral I identifies the topic sentence for the paragraph, capital letters indicate supporting details, and Arabic numerals label sub-points.

    Use the template below to create your own outline. Create at least three supporting details with at least two sub-points for each supporting details.

    1. Identify your topic sentence.
      1. First supporting detail for topic sentence.
        1. Sub-point following supporting detail.
        2. Sub-point following supporting detail.
      2. Second supporting detail for topic sentence.
        1. Sub-point following supporting detail.
        2. Sub-point following supporting detail.
      3. Third supporting detail for topic sentence.
        1. Sub-point following supporting detail.
        2. Sub-point following supporting detail.

    Continuing the First Draft

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    Parking Downhill

    Mariah continued writing her essay, moving to the second and third body paragraphs. She had to stop writing her essay draft to finish some other work she needed to get done. So, she didn't return to writing her essay for a few days.

    Mariah could have planned for this break by doing something called "Parking Downhill." This means that you set yourself up to continue writing by creating momentum for yourself when you return. Instead of just stopping, jot down some quick notes about what you will write next.

    Here's how you do it:

    • write what you did,
    • any problems you are encountering,
    • any questions you might have,
    • what will be the first thing you will do when you sit down to continue writing.

    The Reading-Writing Connection

    Even if you have prepared yourself, do not start writing immediately when you return to your work. Put yourself back in context and in the mood by rereading what you have already written.

    You may find that as you reread, you get more ideas and start to make edits to the writing as you read.

    Writing a Title

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    A writer's best choice for a title is one that alludes to the main point of the entire essay. Like the headline in a newspaper or the big, bold title in a magazine, an essay's title gives the audience a first peek at the content. If readers like the title, they are likely to keep reading.

    Following her outline carefully, Mariah crafted each paragraph of her essay. Moving step-by-step in the writing process, Mariah finished the draft and even included a brief concluding paragraph which you will read later. She then decided, as the final touch for her writing session, to add an engaging title.

    Sometimes a title is not easy to come up with, but it is essential to a good essay to have a good title. Avoid restating the assignment, or simply repeating your thesis statement. Find a title that is engaging, original, and will prepare the reader for your essay.

    It is not necessary to come up with a perfect title right away. Sometimes, it is easier to find a "working title": a title that works for now. Later you can come up with something even better.

    Thesis Statement:

    eBook readers are changing the way people read.

    Working Title:
    Reading: Are Books and eBooks the Same?

    Drafting Body Paragraphs

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    If your introduction gives the reader a roadmap to your essay, then body paragraphs should closely follow that map. The reader should be able to predict what follows your introductory paragraph by simply reading the thesis statement. The body paragraphs present the evidence you have gathered to confirm your thesis.

    Before you begin to support your thesis in the body, you must find information from a variety of sources (or the source provided by your professor) that support and give credit to what you are trying to prove.

    Select Primary Support for Your Thesis

    Without primary support, your argument is not likely to be convincing. Primary support can be described as the major points you choose to expand on your thesis. It is the most important information you select to argue for your point of view. Each point you choose will be incorporated into the topic sentence for each body paragraph you write. Your primary supporting points are further supported by supporting details within the paragraphs.

    Remember that a worthy argument is backed by examples. In order to construct a valid argument, good writers conduct lots of background research and take careful notes. They also talk to people knowledgeable about a topic in order to understand its implications before writing about it. For guidance on incorporating research into your paragraphs, see the section "Using Sources."

    Primary Support

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    Identify the Characteristics of Good Primary Support

    In order to fulfill the requirements of good primary support, the information you choose must meet the following standards:

    Be relevant to the thesis.

    Primary support is considered strong when it relates directly to the thesis. Primary support should show, explain, or prove your main argument without delving into irrelevant details. When faced with lots of information that could be used to prove your thesis, you may think you need to include it all in your body paragraphs. But effective writers resist the temptation to lose focus. Choose your supporting points wisely by making sure they directly connect to your thesis.

    Be specific.

    The main points you make about your thesis and the examples you use to expand on those points need to be more specific than the thesis. Use specific examples to provide the evidence and to build upon your general ideas. These types of examples give your reader something narrow to focus on, and if used properly, they leave little doubt about your claim. General examples, while they convey the necessary information, are not nearly as compelling or useful in writing because they are too obvious and typical.

    Be detailed.

    Remember that your thesis, while specific, should not be very detailed. The body paragraphs are where you develop the discussion that a thorough essay requires. Using detailed support shows readers that you have considered all the facts and chosen only the most precise details to enhance your point of view.

    Pre-write to Identify Primary Supporting Points for a Thesis Statement

    Recall that when you pre-write you essentially make a list of examples or reasons why you support your stance. Stemming from each point, you further provide details to support those reasons. After prewriting, you are then able to look back at the information and choose the most compelling pieces you will use in your body paragraphs.

    Select the Most Effective Primary Supporting Points for a Thesis Statement

    As you developed a working thesis through prewriting techniques, you may have generated a lot of information, which may be edited out later. Remember that your primary support must be relevant to your thesis. Remind yourself of your main argument, and delete any ideas that do not directly relate to it. Omitting unrelated ideas ensures that you will use only the most convincing information in your body paragraphs. Choose at least three of only the most compelling points. These will serve as the topic sentences for your body paragraphs.

    When you support your thesis, you are revealing evidence. Evidence includes anything that can help support your stance. The following are the kinds of evidence you will encounter as you conduct your research:

    1. Facts: Facts are the best kind of evidence to use because they often cannot be disputed. They can support your stance by providing background information on or a solid foundation for your point of view. However, some facts may still need explanation. For example, the sentence "The most populated state in the United States is California" is a pure fact, but it may require some explanation to make it relevant to your specific argument.
    2. Judgments: Judgments are conclusions drawn from the given facts. Judgments are more credible than opinions because they are founded upon careful reasoning and examination of a topic.
    3. Testimony: Testimony consists of direct quotations from either an eyewitness or an expert witness. An eyewitness is someone who has direct experience with a subject; he adds authenticity to an argument based on facts. An expert witness is a person who has extensive experience with a topic. This person studies the facts and provides commentary based on either facts or judgments, or both. An expert witness adds authority and credibility to an argument.
    4. Personal observation. Personal observation is similar to testimony, but personal observation consists of your testimony. It reflects what you know to be true because you have experiences and have formed either opinions or judgments about them. For instance, if you are one of five children and your thesis states that being part of a large family is beneficial to a child's social development, you could use your own experience to support your thesis.

    You can consult a vast pool of resources to gather support for your stance. Citing relevant information from reliable sources ensures that your reader will take you seriously and consider your assertions.

    Use any of the following sources for your essay:

    • newspapers or news organization websites,
    • magazines,
    • encyclopedias, and
    • scholarly journals (which are periodicals that address topics in a specialized field).

    When using sources, you are responsible for properly documenting the borrowed information properly. Refer to the section "Using Sources" (1.3) for more information.

    Choose Supporting Topic Sentences

    Each body paragraph contains a topic sentence that states one aspect of your thesis and then expands upon it. Like the thesis statement, each topic sentence should be specific and supported by concrete details, facts, or explanations.

    Each body paragraph should comprise the following elements: topic sentence + supporting details (examples, reasons, or arguments).

    As you read in "Writing Paragraphs," topic sentences indicate the location and main points of the basic arguments of your essay. These sentences are vital to writing your body paragraphs because they always refer back to and support your thesis statement.

    Topic sentences are linked to the ideas you have introduced in your thesis, thus reminding readers what your essay is about. A paragraph without a clearly identified topic sentence may be unclear and scattered, just like an essay without a thesis statement.

    Consider the following example of a thesis statement:

    Author J.D. Salinger relied primarily on his personal life and belief system as the foundation for the themes in the majority of his works.

    The following topic sentence is a primary supporting point for the thesis. The topic sentence states exactly what the controlling idea of the paragraph is.

    Salinger, a World War II veteran, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a disorder that influenced themes in many of his works.

    The following paragraph contains supporting detail sentences for the primary support sentence (the topic sentence), which is highlighted.

    Salinger, a World War II veteran, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, a disorder that influenced the themes in many of his works. He did not hide his mental anguish over the horrors of war and once told his daughter, "You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose, no matter how long you live." His short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" details a day in the life of a WWII veteran who was recently released form an army hospital for psychiatric problems. The man acts questionably with a little girl he meets on the beach before he returns to his hotel room and commits suicide. Another short Story, "For Esme, with Love and Squalor," is narrated by a traumatized soldier who sparks an unusual relationship with a young girl he meets before he departs to partake in D-Day. Finally, In Salinger's only novel, the Catcher in The Rye, he continues with the theme of post traumatic stress, though not directly related to war. From a rest home for the mentally ill, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield narrates the story of his nervous breakdown following the death of his younger brother.

    The Five Paragraph Essay

    Unless your professor instructs otherwise, you should include at least three body paragraphs in your essay. A five-paragraph essay, including the introduction and conclusion, is commonly the standard for essay exams, but you shouldn’t depend on that as a viable structure for writing in college.

    Most of your essays will be significantly longer than five paragraphs. Writers should maintain flexibility and not expect all essays to conform to that model. The emphasis is on creating an essay that provides enough support to tell a story, create an image or idea, or inform or persuade the audience.

    All essays you write in college have a beginning (introduction), middle (body), and end (conclusion). But how those will be formatted and how long they’ll be will change from class to class, and you need to be flexible and adaptable. Take the skills you learned writing one essay and adapt them to the next essay, without assuming that all essays will look alike.

    Use an Outline to Draft Supporting Detail Sentences for Each Primary Support Sentence

    After deciding which primary support points you will use as your topic sentences, you must add details to clarify and demonstrate each of those points. These supporting details provide examples, facts, or evidence that support the topic sentence. The writer drafts possible supporting detail sentences for each primary support sentence based on the thesis statement:

    Thesis: Unleashed dogs on city streets are a dangerous nuisance.


    1. Dogs can scare cyclists.
      1. Cyclists are forced to zigzag on the roads.
      2. School children panic and turn wildly on their bikes.
      3. People walking at night freeze in fear.
    2. Loose dogs are traffic hazards.
      1. Dogs in the street make people swerve their cars.
      2. To avoid dogs, drivers run into other cars or pedestrians.
      3. Children coaxing dogs across city streets create danger.
    3. Unleashed dogs damage gardens.
      1. They step on flowers and vegetables.
      2. They destroy hedges by urinating on them.
      3. They mess up lawns by digging holes.

    You have the option of writing your topic sentences in one of three ways:

    • you can state it at the beginning of the body paragraph, or
    • at the end of the paragraph, or
    • you do not have to write it at all. (This is called an implied topic sentence.)

    An implied topic sentence lets readers form the main idea for themselves. For beginning writers, it is best to not use implied topic sentences because it makes it harder to focus your writing. Your instructor may also want to clearly identify the sentences that support your thesis.

    Key Takeaways

    • Your body paragraphs should closely follow the path set forth by your thesis statement.
    • Strong body paragraphs contain evidence that supports your thesis.
    • Primary support comprises the most important points you use to support your thesis.
    • Strong primary support is specific, detailed, and relevant to the thesis.
    • Prewriting helps you determine your most compelling primary support.
    • Evidence includes facts, judgments, testimony, and personal observation.
    • Reliable sources may include newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books, encyclopedias, and firsthand testimony.
    • A topic sentence presents one point of your thesis statement while the information in the rest of the paragraph supports that point.
    • A body paragraph comprises a topic sentence plus supporting details.

    Exercise: Topic Sentences

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    Print out the first draft of your essay and use a highlighter to mark your topic sentences in the body paragraphs.

    Make sure the topic sentences are clearly stated and accurately present your paragraphs, as well as accurately reflect your thesis.

    If your topic sentence contains information that does not exist in the rest of the paragraph, rewrite it to more accurately match the rest of the paragraph.

    Exercise: Supporting A Thesis

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    This is a multi-step exercise. Your instructor may want you to do all or part of this exercise.

    Step 1: Choose a Thesis Statement

    Choose one of the following working thesis statements.

    On a separate sheet of paper, freewrite for at least five minutes on ONE of the topics.

    1. Unleashed dogs on city streets are a dangerous nuisance.
    2. Students cheat for many different reasons.
    3. Drug use among teens and young adults is a problem.
    4. The most important change that should occur at my college or university is . . .

    Step 2: Support the Thesis

    Select three of your most compelling reasons to support the thesis statement you chose.

    Remember that the points you choose must be specific and relevant to the thesis. The statements you choose will be your primary support points. You will later incorporate them into the topic sentences for body paragraphs.

    Collaboration: Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

    Step 3: Convert Support to Topic Sentences

    You chose three of your most convincing points to support the thesis statement you selected from the list. Take each point and incorporate it into a topic sentence for three body paragraphs.

    Supporting point 1: ____________________________________________

    Topic sentence 1: ____________________________________________

    Supporting point 2: ____________________________________________

    Topic sentence 2: ____________________________________________

    Supporting point 3: ____________________________________________

    Topic sentence 3: ____________________________________________

    Collaboration: Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

    Step 4: Draft Supporting Details

    Using the three topic sentences you composed, draft at least three supporting details for each point.

    Thesis Statement: ____________________________________________

    Topic Sentence 1: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 1: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 2: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 3: ____________________________________________

    Topic Sentence 2: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 1: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 2: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 3: ____________________________________________

    Topic Sentence 3: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 1: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 2: ____________________________________________

    Supporting Detail 3: ____________________________________________

    Drafting Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs

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    Picture your introduction as a storefront window: You have a certain amount of space to attract your customers (readers) to your goods (subject) and bring them inside your store (discussion).

    Once you have enticed them with something intriguing, you then point them in a specific direction and try to make the sale (convince them to accept your thesis). Your introduction is an invitation to your readers to consider what you have to say and then to follow your train of thought as you expand upon your thesis statement.

    Writing an Introduction

    Too many students think that when they start writing a paper, they need to start with the introduction, and they get stuck. They know that introductions are important, but often they're unable to articulate why.

    Why? The introduction is for the reader: it helps them understand what to expect in the rest of the paper. But you, as the writer, often don't know where you're going when you start a paper (especially if you need to write a messy draft before writing an outline), so it's better to just start writing. If you think about an introduction as a road map to the rest of the paper, you can't write a map to the coffee shop unless you've been there yourself. When to write an introduction: LATER, after you've written a messy draft!

    An introduction serves the following purposes:

    • Establishes your voice and tone, or your attitude, toward the subject
    • Introduces the general topic of the essay
    • States the thesis that will be supported in the body paragraphs
    • Previews the body of the paper

    First impressions are crucial and can leave lasting effects in your reader's mind, which is why the introduction is so important to your essay. If your introductory paragraph is dull or disjointed, your reader probably will not have much interest in continuing with the essay. Think of your introduction as a road map that helps your reader understand where they're going.

    Attracting Interest in Your Introductory Paragraph

    Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 7.51.26 PM.pngYour introduction should begin with an engaging statement devised to provoke your readers' interest. In the next few sentences, introduce them to your topic by stating general facts or ideas about the subject. As you move deeper into your introduction, you gradually narrow the focus, moving closer to your thesis. Moving smoothly and logically from your introductory remarks to your thesis statement can be achieved using a "funnel" technique, shown in the illustration.

    Immediately capturing your readers' interest increases the chances of having them read what you are about to discuss. You can garner curiosity for your essay in a number of ways.

    Try to get your readers personally involved by doing any of the following:

    • Appealing to their emotions
    • Using logic
    • Beginning with a provocative question or opinion
    • Opening with a startling statistic or surprising fact
    • Raising a question or series of questions
    • Presenting an explanation or rationalization for your essay
    • Opening with a relevant quotation or incident
    • Opening with a striking image
    • Including a personal anecdote

    Remember that your diction, or word choice, while always important, is most crucial in your introductory paragraph. Boring diction could extinguish any desire a person might have to read through your discussion. Choose words that create images or express action.

    Writing a Conclusion

    It is not unusual to want to rush when you approach your conclusion, and even experienced writers may fade. But what good writers remember is that it is vital to put just as much attention into the conclusion as in the rest of the essay. After all, a hasty ending can undermine an otherwise strong essay.

    A conclusion that does not correspond to the rest of your essay, has loose ends, or is unorganized can unsettle your readers and raise doubts about the entire essay. However, if you have worked hard to write the introduction and body, your conclusion can often be the most logical part to compose.

    The Anatomy of a Strong Conclusion

    Keep in mind that the ideas in your conclusion must conform to the rest of your essay. In order to tie these components together, restate your thesis at the beginning of your conclusion. This helps you assemble, in an orderly fashion, all the information you have explained in the body. Repeating your thesis reminds your readers of the major arguments you have been trying to prove and also indicates that your essay is drawing to a close. A strong conclusion also reviews your main points and emphasizes the importance of the topic.

    The construction of the conclusion is similar to the introduction, in which you make general introductory statements and then present your thesis. The difference is that in the conclusion you first paraphrase, or state in different words, your thesis and then follow up with general concluding remarks. If you find that repetitive, consider posing a question to your reader, or bringing in an idea or text that you didn't think fit into the body of the essay.

    The conclusion should progressively broaden the focus of your thesis and maneuver your readers out of the essay. Many writers like to end their essays with a final emphatic statement. This strong closing statement will cause your readers to continue thinking about the implications of your essay; it will make your conclusion, and thus your essay, more memorable.

    Another powerful technique is to challenge your readers to make a change in either their thoughts or their actions. Challenging your readers to see the subject through new eyes is a powerful way to ease yourself and your readers out of the essay.

    When closing your essay, do not expressly state that you are drawing to a close. Relying on statements such as "in conclusion," "it is clear that," "as you can see," or "in summation" is unnecessary and can be considered trite.

    It is wise to avoid doing any of the following in your conclusion:

    1. Introducing significant new material: Introducing important new material in your conclusion has an unsettling effect on your reader. When you raise new points, you make your reader want more information, which you could not possibly provide in the limited space of your final paragraph. Always be sure to check with your teacher about whether information is significant enough to go in the body of the paper, rather than in the conclusion. Something related but not as relevant to the main point could work.
    2. Contradicting your thesis: Contradicting or changing your thesis statement causes your readers to think that you do not actually have a conviction about your topic. After all, you have spent several paragraphs adhering to a specific point of view.
    3. Changing your thesis: When you change sides or open up your point of view in the conclusion, your reader becomes less inclined to believe your original argument.
    4. Using apologies or disclaimers: By apologizing for your opinion or stating that you know it is tough to digest, you are in fact admitting that even you know what you have discussed is irrelevant or unconvincing. You do not want your readers to feel this way. Effective writers stand by their thesis statement and do not stray from it.

    Make sure your essay is balanced by not having an excessively long or short introduction or conclusion. Check that they match each other in length as closely as possible, and try to mirror the formula you used in each. Parallelism strengthens the message of your essay.


    3.3: Drafting is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by .


    3.3: Drafting is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lynne Bost, Barbara Hall, Michelle Kassorla, Karen McKinney-Holley, Kirk Swenson, and Rebecca Weaver (Managing Editor).

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