Basic Writing/Drafting

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Introduction to Drafting[edit]

Drafting is writing and drafting is a vital part of successful writing. The reason you will need to use drafting is that it can lay the fundamental framework of your final paper. If you lay the framework well, you'll have a good chance of writing a beautiful paper, however, if you do a poor job on the framework, success could be much more difficult to attain. The following section will take you through the drafting process(es) with instructions and handy tips.

Nobody gets it right the first time[edit]

Whether a writer is the next Ernest Hemingway or a student at any level, drafting must be done as a part of successful writing. If a professional writer says that he/she never writes more than one draft you can pretty much bet they are joking or not telling the truth. Even when writers work to deadline and write at a single sitting, they return to parts of it again and again in order to get it just right. Also, a deadline doesn't always mean done; writers can and do return to an already published piece and revise to make it better.

It does not matter whether the work is a research paper or a poem, all forms of writing need to be drafted. Since a professional writer almost never gets a piece of writing perfect in the first draft, don't feel bad if you need several drafts too. So, if you find yourself very unhappy about your first try at a paper think of it as just the start of something better, i.e. the rough draft. Another advantage to multiple drafts is that the more drafting you do the more chances you have of catching mistakes and improving the paper. This is why it is so important to make time for multiple drafts during the writing process. The time spent drafting will bring you closer to than ever to a more glorious version of your final draft.

The importance of just getting it on the page[edit]

Not much can be done for a piece of writing until it is on paper or computer screen. You may worry that the paper will not be very good or even think that it will be awful, yet you won't really know until you've actually written it. Not only will you and your reader(s) not be able to see what you have written, but there is no chance of working to fix what has not yet been written. For more ideas of how to actually get your words down look at the pre-writing section below.



Brainstorming is one of the most effective pre-writing techniques you can use. It’s virtually painless and can be pretty fun, if you let it! Brainstorming is easy because there are NO RULES. Let your mind wander and think about things that you would like to explore more. Try to create a mental web of things you can connect to one another. Let the lightning of ideas strike you as they may. Ask yourself a few starter questions such as:

What interests me?

If I choose this subject can I meet the word/page requirements?

Are there other researchers out there thinking like me?

What topics are related to my topic of interest?

What about the topic can I make into a thesis?

Where is there an arguable side of this topic?

Can I see and argue both sides?

What other topics interest me?

Is there anything in the media that I can make into a paper?

How might this affect my daily life?

What kind of examples can illustrate my point?

Is this a fresh/creative topic? Has it become too common?

These questions and others you might create will help you get started on your writing process. Before you even put pen to paper or fingers to keys (If you do have a good idea, WRITE IT DOWN, that way you don’t forget it!). Once you have a topic in mind then you’re ready to move on to the harder stuff.

Free writing[edit]

Free writing can also be pretty fun if you let it. Once you have the main topic of your argument, then it is time to begin getting your ideas on paper. The purpose of free writing is to do just that. Again, with free writing, there are no set rules as to how to proceed. Many teachers will use this technique as a way to jumpstart your creativity and get you thinking. In doing free writing before your paper you will need to write for several (8-10) minutes about your topic. Even if you jump off topic continue writing because you might come back around to the topic or discover a new way in which you might consider going with your topic.

You might want to begin by writing down all the ideas you have about your topic. Write down things you think will eventually serve as your main points. Think about how you would argue with someone who disagreed with your point of view. What would you tell them? Could you back it up with actual evidence? Note: at this point you won’t necessarily need actual evidence, but you will want to have a good idea of the kinds of things out there that you can use to back up your claim.

This is the point where your argument starts to pull together and you will probably find that you have more ideas and points than will ever fit into your argument, but then you can choose the best of the points and make your argument even stronger.


Outlines and rough outlines are where you begin to form the skeleton of your paper. They will be the pattern from which you write your argument. The outline serves as a way to organize you thoughts into a comprehensive process that flows smoothly from one point to another.

The formatting of an outline also helps you to create organization within your paper. Here is an example outline to help you learn the format and organization it will give your argument. I. This is your main topic. It can also be your title. What are you going to talk about?

A. This is your introductory paragraph. Give your intro topic sentence.

1. State your thesis. You should have a clear and developed thesis by now.

B. This is the body of your argument.

1. Main point #1

a. Supporting evidence for main point #1

b. More supporting evidence for point #1

c. Acknowledge and dismiss the other side of the argument

2. Main point #2

a. Supporting evidence for point #2

b. More supporting evidence for point #2

c. Acknowledge and dismiss other side of the argument

C. This is the conclusion of your argument

a. Restate your thesis

b. Summarize your argument

Note: you may have several more main points than this outline has, but they all follow the same basic structure.

Types of Drafts[edit]

Rough draft[edit]

A rough draft is a very important step in the writing process. Writing more than one draft gives you the opportunity to catch problems and see where the paper may not be working. So, it is a very good idea to leave yourself with enough time to write at least two or three drafts of your paper. You may want to do an outline to plan your paper beforehand, but doing that is not always necessary. After you get your thoughts, any possible research and or sources needed in order you can begin actually writing. While you write your rough draft you may not feel completely satisfied about the paper, but that's okay because that is what a rough draft is for. You want to give yourself a chance to work to get to the best arrangement of ideas and find different ways of expressing them.

Form: intro, body, conclusion and paragraph[edit]

Start it, say it, finish it--that's an academic writing draft in its simplest form.

Start it. The introduction starts it all. That's where you get the reader involved in what you are writing about and along the way, also get them interested in what you have to say. At the end of the introduction section, many forms of academic writing have a thesis--the main idea or claim.

Say it. Say what you have to say, and don't forget to set up a sequence of ideas that will eventually lead to the conclusion. Each idea or "point" needs room to breathe, so give it its own paragraph, at the very least. Supporting details and examples will also help.

Finish it. The conclusion wraps it all up in a way that doesn't just repeat the thesis--it makes it both bigger and more specific. The terminology for this kind of writing is "synthesis." In synthesis, the whole is greater than its parts, and that is exactly what a good conclusion does.

Needless to say, each part involves using paragraphs, but it's helpful at the drafting stage to think more about "sections." An introduction can be more than one paragraph. A body needs to be more than one paragraph. A conclusion can be one paragraph, but can be more. If your natural tendency when drafting is to move full-steam ahead in one long paragraph with the intention of breaking it up later, it's worth the effort to slow down a bit and make those paragraph breaks as you write. Your draft will be better organized in the long run, a good thing for you and your future reader.

Process: getting started, getting past writing blocks[edit]

All writers can suffer from those horrible writing blocks, but there are ways around them. If you are having a hard time with the beginning, work on other sections of the paper and come back to the beginning later. You do not have to write strictly from beginning to conclusion. If you have an idea for a certain section write it first. Get that idea out of your head and onto the paper because in doing so, you just might think of a brilliant way to begin your paper. Also, depending on how much time you have to work you may want to take an hour or a day to get away from your paper. Sometimes a little time away from a project can help clear your head and give your ideas more definitions as well as clarity.

Process between drafts: Intermediate drafts, editing, MLA, etc.[edit]

Here the process between drafts is kind of overlapping with two of the other sections, they are, Revising and Editing. Actually, the intermediate drafts are a process of revising your former drafts again and again. You need to look at what you think is not proper or good enough and think of ways that better explain your points to your readers. For more details, you may want to refer to the other two sections about how you could make better draft amendments step by step.

Final draft[edit]

Yes! You are coming to the final draft now! However, this is not the end of your final paper yet! The overall structure of the writing construction has already been done, so we could say that you've achieved a half-success! Still, you need to go beyond drafting to the further sections which will be sure to guide you to completion of your paper! Keep up the hard work and you will be glad you went through so many drafts, all that hard work just might eventually pay off in a big way!