A Procedure for Writing an Essay
by Owen Fourie
~ Part Two ~
As we noted in Part One of this article, the steps that you should take when writing an essay may be outlined as follows:
- EDITING AND PROOFREADING
- FINAL COPY
Help! I need a map
With the pre-writing done and any research completed, you are ready to do an outline or adjust the outline that you might have prepared before you began researching your subject.
Outlining is the last part of the pre-writing phase. It is like a map showing you the route you must take to reach your destination. It will help you to develop your essay as you enter the drafting stage.
What you do here is simply to list your major points and your supporting minor points and sub-points. This can be fairly extensive depending on the level of your writing. You will find the basic form of an outline at the following link that will open in a new window:
Brrr! It’s drafty
Your outline will prove to be a most useful tool as you begin to enter the drafting phase. It will keep you focused and on track.
You should write as many drafts as you can reasonably fit into your schedule. The more drafts, the better your essay should be as you write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and seek to improve each draft with each rewriting.
In the first draft, simply write without being bogged down too much by the mechanics – grammar, spelling, and punctuation. In other words, simply write to get your ideas down.
From the second draft onwards, you bring editing and proofreading into play. You are shaping the raw material of the first draft into a correct form, taking care to edit out unnecessary material, correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
If possible and time allows you to do so, leave a day between drafts. This allows you to “forget” it and to come back to it with a fresh mind. This should help you to see the weaknesses and errors of the latest draft as you rewrite it with much improvement before the final copy.
Once you are ready to type the final copy, you should come to it with a fair degree of confidence because you have worked hard through all the phases of pre-writing, researching, outlining, drafting, editing, and proofreading to have before you a product of quality.
Remember to choose a relevant title that will make a good impression. Remember, too, to use double-spacing between lines. The first line of each paragraph should be indented.
Ideally, the typing of the final copy should take place two or three days before the submission deadline to allow for the final pre-submission proofreading and correction of any errors.
If time allows, and you have typed the final copy, put it aside for at least a day; come back to it with a fresh mind after twenty-fours hours or so and do that final proofreading, which will allow you to catch and correct any errors that are still lurking there.
Familiarity with your essay will prevent you from seeing obvious errors. Leaving a day or more between completion and submission will enable you to be a little less familiar with your paper, and you will see its remaining errors more readily.
Be sure to comply with any presentation requirements that your instructor has given you, such as attaching your essay under a cover page and also attaching your works-cited list and your bibliography as separate sheets. The following links will give you a good idea of how to cite your sources in a bibliography:
- How to Cite, Bibliography: Using the Chicago Manual of Style: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
- How to Cite, Bibliography: Using APA Style: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_apa_format_examples.shtml
- How to Cite, Bibliography: Using MLA Style: http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/library/mlahcc7th.html
What is your experience with following a procedure to write essays? Do you have any useful insights? What are your particular struggles? Do you have more useful links to the different styles? Are the above links working for you? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.
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