- 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
- 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.