[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter writing your thesis statement, doing your research, outlining your paper, and doing free writing, you are ready to write a first draft. The writing process from this stage is quite straightforward. Write a first draft, revise the content, and edit for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. If you have been following the guidelines in our lessons, writing the first draft will not be a daunting process because you will have much of the work done already.
Using your outline as your guide, you are ready to begin your first draft. Your paper will open with an introductory paragraph, but it is not necessary to write this paragraph first. You can begin the paper by writing your main ideas and supporting details. Take any sentences from your free writing that you feel are worth developing and use them. As you write, remember to cite any direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries you are using from your research. Once you have included all of your main ideas and supporting details from your paper, you should write your introductory paragraph, if you have not yet done so.
Some people feel more comfortable writing the introductory paragraph first, but it is sometimes easier to leave it until later in the writing process. The introductory paragraph should provide an overview of your paper without going into too much detail. It will end with your thesis statement. The following is an example of an introductory paragraph using the thesis statement we developed in our lesson Draft a strong and effective thesis statement.
[quote]There are many different types of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. The overall mission or goal of the program, the financial cost to the students, the number of hours in class each week, and students’ prior educational experiences are some of the more prevalent differences. However, there are also many similarities in the student populations in ESOL classes. Some of the similarities include students’ first language, reasons for coming to the United States, and the students’ level of English. This paper will compare the student populations of 2 adult education classes and explain how the differences influence the class syllabi.[/quote]
Your paper should also end with a concluding paragraph. In the conclusion, you should not introduce any new material. If you have new material to discuss, you are not yet ready to write your conclusion. The concluding paragraph is a summary of the research and findings of your paper.
After you have written your introductory paragraph, the body of the paper including your main and supporting ideas, and the conclusion, you may consider it to be the first draft of your paper. The next step is to revise the paper. During the revision process, there are a number of things that you should be looking for. You should look for main ideas that do not have support or do not have enough support. You should look for smooth and logical connections between paragraphs. You should also pay attention to whether or not each paragraph contains a single main idea and support for that main idea. New ideas should begin a new paragraph. At this point, you are reading for content, not grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes which you will do during editing. Rewrite any paragraphs or sections that need revisions. You now have a second draft. You should read the paper again, checking again for further content revisions. If you feel there are further revisions to be made, then you will go through the revision process again. You will continue this process until you are happy with the content of the paper.
The final step in the writing process is to edit the paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. While many word processors have spelling and grammar check functions, you cannot rely on them to catch each and every mistake. It is still important to do a final editing revision in which you check for these mistakes. When you read the paper for editing revisions, you are not looking at the content. You should look solely at the grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
The following is a list of common mistakes that many people make when writing academic papers. You will want to check for these while editing, but please note that this is not an exhaustive list.
- Check for subject/verb agreement and be sure that you do not have sentence fragments.
- Be consistent in your use of verb tense.
- Check for correct use of homophones such as their/there/they’re, two/too/to, and it’s/its.
- Contractions such as it’s, can’t, and won’t should not be used in academic papers. Instead, use it is, cannot, will not.
- Do not use texting abbreviations in academic writing. The only exception would be if you are writing about texting abbreviations and are using them as examples! Similarly, do not use slang or colloquialisms in academic writing.
- Format the punctuation for direct quotes using the guidelines of the citation style for your paper.
- Check that the margins, line spacing, page numbers, and the font selection follow the guidelines set forth by your professor in the guidelines for your paper.
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