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Premature editing doesn't make writing dull;
it makes it dead.
Roger H. Garrison, 1918-1984 -
How a Writer Works

Writing series

5. Rough drafts:

A rough draft is "a late stage in the writing process".1
It assumes that you have adequate information and understanding,
are near or at the end of gathering research, and have completed an exercise in prewriting.

What you need:

  • Adequate time period for focus
  • Clear study area
    to eliminate distractions, whether other school projects or friends' demands,
    in order to concentrate on the task at hand
  • Preparation and research
    with as much current and historical data and viewpoints as necessary
  • Target audience
    or a clear idea for whom you are writing:
    your professor, an age group, a friend, a profession, etc.
  • Prewriting exercises
    and notes on ideas from your research
  • Review all the above.
    Don't "study" it; just refresh yourself on the main concepts for now

What you will NOT need:

  • Title or introduction:
    derive these from your prewriting exercise
  • Reference works, print-outs, quotes, etc.
    Rely on your notes, and don't overwhelm yourself with facts.
    Details can be added; you now want to focus on developing your argument
  • Edits!
    Do not revise as you write, or correct spelling, punctuation, etc.
    Just write, write, write.
    This is the first draft, so what you put down will be revised and organized "after"

Take a break after your prewriting exercise!
Refresh yourself

  • Review the ideas, topics, themes, questions
    you have come up with in your prewriting exercise. Try reading the prewriting text out loud ( a type of self-mediation). Listen for patterns that seem most interesting and/or important. Summarize them.
  • Evaluate the ideas, topics, themes, questions
    whether by scoring, prioritizing, or whatever method seems best.
    Keep this list in case your first choice(s) don't work
  • Sequence
    what you have prioritized as in outlining, above.

Writing your draft (3):

Your first paragraph

  • Introduce the topic; entice the reader (remember: audience)
  • Establish perspective and/or point of view!
  • Focus on three main points to develop

Establish flow from paragraph to paragraph

  • Topic sentences of each paragraph
    define their place in the overall scheme
  • Transition sentences, clauses, or words at the beginning of paragraph connect one idea to the next
    (See the page on transitional words and phrases)
  • Avoid one and two sentence paragraphs
    which may reflect lack of development of your point
  • Continually prove your point of view throughout the essay
    • Don't drift or leave the focus of the essay
    • Don't lapse into summary in developing paragraphs--wait until its time, at the conclusion
  • Keep your voice active
    • "The Academic Committee decided..." not "It was decided by..."
    • Avoid the verb "to be" for clear, dynamic, and effective presentation
      (Avoid the verb "to be" and your presentation will be effective, clear, and dynamic)
    • Avoiding "to be" will also avoid the passive voice
  • Support interpretations with quotes, data, etc.
    • Properly introduce, explain, and cite each quote
    • Block (indented) quotes should be used sparingly;
      they can break up the flow of your argument

Conclusion

  • Read your first paragraph, the development, and set it aside
  • Summarize, then conclude, your argument
  • Refer back (once again) to the first paragraph(s) as well as the development
    • do the last paragraphs briefly restate the main ideas?
    • reflect the succession and importance of the arguments
    • logically conclude their development?
  • Edit/rewrite the first paragraph
    to better set your development and conclusion

Take a day or two off!


Seven stages of writing assignments:

Index | Develop your topic (1) | Identify your audience (2) |
Research (3) | Research with notecards | Summarizing research |
Prewrite (4) | Draft/write (5) | Revise (6) | Proofread (7)