Taking the Mystery out of Writing
Some students hear the words, “You have to write a paper” and immediately panic. To some, writing papers seems to be impossible. In all actuality, there are only a few things a student needs to do when they write.
1 Consider Your Topic
Before you even begin writing, you need to spend some time thinking about the paper’s topic. Term papers and research papers will need a thesis. If you are comparing and contrasting, you’ll need several key points. If you get to pick your topic, write about what you know. Or, write about a topic that interests you, and you’d like to know more about. If you don’t get to pick your topic, and it is decided for you, consider what the question is really asking.
Always make sure your paper is in the correct format. Most teachers will clarify what format they want (whether it’s MLA, ALA or Chicago). Guidelines to all formats can easily be found online. This includes: headers/footers, margins, text size, title pages, spacing, and even whether to staple or paperclip your paper. Also if a teacher asks for a certain length, make sure you make it that length. If the number of pages you have to write seems overwhelming, just take it one page at a time.
Consider making an outline for your paper. Break the outline up into the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion. For a normal paper, the body will need to have at least three paragraphs, and sometimes more. The outline will help you prepare.
If outlining isn’t working, simply start writing down ideas or reasons that you can use in your paper. You don’t need to have them in any order. That will happen later. Just write whatever comes to mind that is relevant to your topic.
The introduction is the first part of the paper and is generally one long paragraph. It introduces your topic and/or thesis. If comparing, you state what you are comparing. If you have an argument, you state what your argument is. Be careful not to write multiple sentences that mean the same thing. Example: X and O are very different. X and O are not the same at all. (etc) Restating the same thing over and over isn’t necessary for the audience to get the point.
As stated above, the body of the paper is your support of your argument, or your reasons for your argument. It is generally three paragraphs, with each paragraph being about a certain point you want to make. For longer papers you will have more points, and therefore more paragraphs. These should be your strongest points. Using your outline will really help for this. Or if you simply wrote down ideas, try to split those ideas up and then flesh them out. Turn them into paragraphs.
The last part of your paper is the conclusion. You need to sum up your argument and reinforce your points. Add your final thoughts. It’s best not to start the paragraph by saying “In conclusion”. Teachers have read that over and over.
And lastly, reread your paper. Make sure you met all of the requirements, and answered the question. Proofread. (Don’t just spell check!) Print it out and read it over. Ask somebody else to read it over. And TURN IT IN ON TIME! Follow these steps and you’ll find that you’ve taken the mystery out of writing.