CompFAQ/Getting Started

From Gerald R. Lucas
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📝 English Composition Writing FAQ 11011102📖

Prewriting: Plan Before You Write

Much of the writing process takes place long before you put pen to paper or hands to keyboard. Rather than plunge right into a first draft when you get an assignment, spend some time thinking about what you hope to accomplish with your writing. This can be a daunting task, especially when you have a lot of ideas and information to sort through. However, taking the time to organize your thoughts before you start writing can make the writing process easier, more efficient, and lead to a better end result.

Writing is a form of communication. Approach a writing project as an attempt to communicate. Who you are writing for and your purpose for writing are as important to effective communication as what you have to say about a topic. The more thought and planning you put into any given writing project, the smoother the actual writing will go and the stronger the resulting text will be. Consider these strategies:

  1. Understand the assignment: Carefully read the assignment prompt and make sure you understand what is being asked of you. Note any requirements such as length, formatting, and sources.
  2. Brainstorm ideas: Spend some time brainstorming ideas on the topic. This can involve free-writing, mind mapping, or creating an outline.
  3. Use mind maps: If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or to organize your thoughts, consider using a mind map. A mind map is a visual diagram that helps you organize your ideas and connect them to each other. You can use software or apps to create a mind map or draw one on paper. Start with a central idea and then branch out to related ideas.
  4. Develop a thesis statement: Once you have a sense of what you want to write about, develop a clear and concise thesis statement that sets out your main argument.
  5. Research: Depending on the assignment, you may need to do research to gather evidence to support your thesis. Be sure to keep track of your sources and take detailed notes.
  6. Organize your ideas: Create an outline or a plan for how you will organize your essay. This will help you to stay focused and ensure that your essay flows logically. Your outline should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Within each of these sections, include the main points you want to make.
  7. Write a draft: Using your outline and notes, write a first draft of your essay. Don’t worry too much about perfection at this stage. Just focus on getting your ideas down on paper.
  8. Revise: Once you have a draft, take some time to revise it. Look for areas where you can clarify your ideas or add more supporting evidence. Pay attention to sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation.
  9. Edit: After revising, copyedit your essay again to check for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure you have followed any formatting guidelines provided by your instructor.
  10. Get feedback: Show your essay to someone else and get their feedback, or take your essay to your university’s writing center. Consider their comments and use them to improve your essay.
  11. Finalize: After incorporating feedback, finalize your essay and make any last-minute revisions. Double-check that you have followed all the requirements of the assignment before submitting.
Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 04-30-2023; Version: Beta 0.7 💬