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Getting Ready to Write Study Guide

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

Getting Ready to Write

Have common sense and stick to the point. - W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM (1874–1965) ENGLISH NOVELIST

In this lesson, you will learn how to save yourself time in the end. By reevaluating your thesis statement and doing preliminary planning, you'll be able to cut down on your actual writing time.

This lesson will guide you through the preliminary steps you need to take before you actually begin to write your essay. All this preparation may seem tedious and boring, but you will benefit in the end. Writing your essay becomes a much less painful process if you've prepared adequately in advance.

Step 1: Reevaluate Your Thesis Statement

Sometimes in the rush to get started on an essay, you get impatient, throw up your hands, and decide you've simply got to get started writing. And so you begin prematurely, before you've had time to reconsider and reevaluate your thesis statement.

Don't rush into writing. It's always a good idea to take a break, walk around the house, or even sleep on it, and then come back to take a hard last look at the statement that is going to be the cornerstone of everything you write in your assignment.

Checklist for Thesis Statement Development

Once you've reevaluated your thesis statement, and perhaps revised it in light of the checklist here, it's time to start thinking about how to organize your essay. In later lessons, we'll look in detail at the various types of essay organization; for right now, it's important to think in very general terms about the structure of your essay.

Step 2: Imagine The Three Parts of An Essay

Every essay, no matter what is its length, subject matter, or organizational pattern, is made up of three parts:

1. introduction
2. body
3. conclusion

Think of yourself as a bird flying over the landscape and looking down. View your essay from on high, and contemplate its borders, its hills and valleys, from above. If you think in these lofty terms right at the beginning, you're likely to be able to swoop down more easily later in the writing process to look at details up close and personal.

The Introduction of An Essay

The introduction of the essay typically includes the thesis statement. However, the thesis statement does not have to appear as the first sentence. In certain cases, you can write a whole introductory paragraph that does not include the thesis statement at all. In such an instance, it is probably best to put the thesis statement near the top of the second paragraph so that the reader doesn't get confused trying to figure out what the essay is really about. Here's an example:

I walked into the interview not knowing what to expect, but confident that I had come prepared with a list of challenging questions for the principal. She looked at me sternly, and nodded for me to take a seat. Feeling a bit jittery, I stumbled as I sat down, and giggled nervously. But I took a deep breath, regained my calm, and decided to plunge right in.

"I'm here to represent all the students in the eighth grade," I explained, "and we are prepared to boycott classes if you institute a rule requiring us to wear school uniforms." All the kids in my class had voted, and we wanted the principal to know just how seriously we were opposed to the proposal that we wear school uniforms.

Note that the reader has to wait until the second paragraph to find out what the essay is about, but note also how interested you as a reader are by the drama created in the first paragraph. This is good writing, and good use of delaying the thesis of the essay.

There are numerous ways to introduce an essay, so don't fall into the same old trap of starting out with a direct statement of your thesis. Spark up your introduction in any way you can.

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