• Freewrite on the assignment or general topic for several 5-10 minutes non-stop. Force yourself to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to mind because generating ideas is what is most important.
  • After you’ve finished freewriting, look back over what you have written and highlight the most prominent and interesting ideas; then you can begin all over again, with a tighter focus. You will narrow your topic and, in the process, you will generate several relevant points about the topic.


  • Highlight your thesis. This should be the last sentence of your introductory paragraph and should ask a question that you intend to answer or make statement or claim that you will prove true or false.
  • If you are having difficulties with your thesis, imagine you are simply summarizing your paper for someone in one sentence.  What would you say to them?


  • There should be one main idea in each paragraph, supported by a few supporting ideas. The main idea should correlate back to your thesis.
  • To check for focus, simply write a one sentence summary of the paragraph in the margin. If the main idea of the paragraph does not support your thesis, you do not need the paragraph.


  • Each paragraph should flow smoothly from one supporting idea to the next.  There should be clear transitions to flow from one paragraph to the next.
  • To check for organization, create a reverse outline by going through the paper and summarizing the topic of each paragraph. Does the organization make sense? Should any information be moved to another section of the paper? Does additional information need to be added? Do you use transitions to flow from one idea to the next?


  • Sentences should be clear and direct.  Can they be understood on the first reading? Are the sentences varied in length and structure? Could any sentences be improved by combining or restructuring them?
  • Watch for redundant words, and make sure the words in your essay are clear and precise. To improve your style, read through the paper and highlight any words you repeat more than once or any words that could be explained better. Look them up in your thesaurus and find another intriguing word to use.

Contact Us

Have more questions? Visit the Writing Studio, and we’ll be happy to help!

Contact Information

Campus Address
Writing Studio, Kemp Library
Title of Department Leader
Director, Writing Studio
Sandra Eckard
(570) 422-3593