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Evaluating Your Thesis Statement Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

2. The Discover-as-You-Go Draft

Some professional writers insist they cannot stand to write outlines, and they can't wait to get started, so they plunge right in. Most often, these writers are actually practicing a lengthened version of the prewriting technique that you learned about in Lesson 10. These writers can't wait to write an outline first; instead, they write as quickly as they can, discovering, even as they write, the thesis and the supporting details of the argument that they will eventually rework and revise.

This type of drafting can be rather chaotic, and usually results in extended rewrites and extensive editing in subsequent drafts. Another disadvantage to this plunge-right-in approach is that it frequently leads the writer down deadend alleys far away from the original destination. Writer Anne Lamott calls this kind of draft a down draft, the draft in which you just get it down. She names the next draft the up draft, the draft in which you fix it up.

Tip

You will make your writing work much easier if you use the first drafting technique. Don't be tempted to start right in on good writing. It requires advance planning. If you spend the effort and take the time to do this advance planning, your actual writing time will be shorter and less filled with frustration and false starts.

Beginning The Evaluation Process

Before you apply yourself to the evaluation of your draft, you may want to subject it to a peer review. That's a fancy way of saying that you consult with a trusted friend to get an objective opinion about your work. This is not an obligatory step, but it's a very popular one that you may want to try.

There's hardly a professional writer alive who doesn't have a back-up team of other writers who read early drafts and provide feedback, no matter how rough the drafts are. In many cities, writers rent office space together where they can sit side by side and easily compare early drafts. Next time you go past a coffee shop, take a look around; you're likely to spot writers hunched over a small table together comparing rough drafts.

How To Conduct A Peer Review

If you choose to have a peer review, select your reviewer carefully. You're asking a big favor: a serious reading of your work that results in thoughtful input. You need a friend you can trust to take on this assignment seriously. Give your friend a deadline (the next day is usually good) and set a time when the two of you can sit together quietly and go over the essay draft together. The job of the reviewer is not to correct your grammar and spelling. The reviewer's assignment is to get an overview of your essay, its thesis and conclusion, its strengths and its weaknesses, and in so doing help you figure out how to start improving it.

Write out for your reviewer a short list of questions about your essay draft to help guide the review process:

  • What is your overall impression of the essay? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
  • Did it interest you or bore you? (Be honest.)
  • Were there places in which you wished for more explanation?
  • Did you get confused anywhere?
  • Were you convinced by my thesis and conclusion?

During the peer review session with your friend, take careful notes on the feedback you get. (And remember to say thank you.)

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