2 years ago
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A not entirely comprehensive yet terribly informative guide
First, consider your topic. I tend to free write first to dump all of the other garbage out of my brain and onto paper to allow myself a decent chance at distillation. Try to stay on topic, but more importantly, write. Just let the pen loop and twirl and scraggle across the paper until you’re exhausted. Now take a break.
Come back to what you’ve written a little later and give it a once over. What is your subconscious telling you? Generally, you will be able to determine your key points during this reading. If you are lucky and/or advanced, your thesis statement will become apparent too. If not, list your most important ideas concisely and look for the common thread. Start organizing.
To arrange your musings in a clear, logical manner easily digested by other human beings, create an outline. The hardest parts for me are a clever introduction and a solid conclusion, so I save those as a potential flesh suit waiting as an undetermined form in imagination land. As soon as the bones are there, you’ll know what type of trappings to design. Now that you’re not freaking out about an ingenious way to start your paper, organize everything else. Start with your thesis and block off a paragraph or two for each supporting statement necessary to illustrate it. As you mentally cut and paste bits of your brain dump into a coherent structure, you will also find it easy to clarify those bits. More pertinent supporting statements might even form! Don’t worry if you wonder “what am I actually trying to say here?” or “Is my thesis even true?” No big deal! You can modify your thesis statement at any time.
When your outline is more or less complete, you are relatively invincible. Now it’s time to write again! Pound it out on the computer. Necessary changes in sequence will reveal themselves as you support your points. Beware! Two hands working together as you type are a different connection to your brain than one hand with a pen, but don’t be afraid. Surprises might occur. They might be awesome! As soon as you have a satisfactory rough draft, make few notes about intros and conclusions, than print that biznass. You better get that thing proofread, yo! I suggest doing it yourself first, revising, and afterward enlisting the help of another.
Discuss your rough draft with an intelligent human being you trust to have good diction and sentence structure. Also keep in mind that this person should not be overly judgmental or a jerk. Why would you know anyone like that anyway? Whatever. Is your essay logical? Do they understand the point you are trying to make? Can they help you clarify or rearrange anything for a better fit? Did you vary your sentence structure and choose your words wisely? If you misspelled anything or made grammatical errors, now is the time to find out.
After your thorough proofread, you are ready to clean up your essay bones and let your genius shine. Get witty wit it. Use puns, shock factors, or anecdotes. Make your introduction and conclusion the stem and the dot of the exclamation point that should follow your thesis statement. Print that biz-nasty one more time and look it up and down. Repeat buddy proofread if desired. Golden? Turn that bad boy/girl in. And make sure your name is on it.