This is the first step. Think about your topic, audience and
purpose. Some common pre-writing activities are:
Talking to others
Going for a walk and thinking about your topic
Anything else that helps you generate ideas
This is when you decide how to organize your piece
of writing. Remember, the needs of your readers
and your purpose for writing should dictate the
structure or format. Some things to try:
Using index cards
This is also the time to do any necessary research.
You can do your rough draft by hand or on the
computer…whichever works best for you. Try both
ways, because each has advantages.
Your draft may be very rough, with no concern for
sentence structure, paragraphing or grammar, or it
may be almost-final-copy quality. This is an individual
choice, but your main concern right now should be
Re-read what you’ve written and evaluate it. Focus
on content and organization at this point. Don’t
worry about grammar, spelling and punctuation
Delete anything that’s off-topic, distracting, or
just doesn’t work
Reorganize if needed
Make sure your meaning is clear
Get someone else to read your draft and give
When you are satisfied with your content, go through
one more time and correct grammar, spelling and
Look at each sentence individually.
Use spell-check and grammar-check if your computer
has them, but don’t trust the computer to do your
proofreading for you!
Make sure the format is correct (MLA or APA)
So, were you taught the five-paragraph essay?
Introduction: Get your readers’ attention, thesis, three
Body Paragraph I: Discuss point number
Body Paragraph II: Discuss point number two
Body Paragraph III: Discuss point number three
Conclusion: Summarize your points, restate your
Were you taught that each paragraph has to have 5
Why move beyond it?
Most ‘real’ writing (newspaper articles, editorials, scholarly
articles, creative writing, memoirs, business letters, reports and
so on) has more than five paragraphs
The five-paragraph essay does little to engage the reader, or
answer the question, ‘Why should I read this?’
The ‘tell them what you’re going to say, say it, tell them what
you’ve said’ format can be repetitious (repetitious is a polite way
to say boring. Readers hate to be bored).
As you begin to write longer, more in-depth papers, five
paragraphs are simply not enough. Remember, paragraphs are
there to help your reader by organizing your information and
breaking it up into manageable chunks for them.