Before You Write, Organize and Outline Study Guide (page 2)
Before You Write, Organize and Outline
I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others. - MOLIÈRE (1622–1673) FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT
This lesson will teach why writing an outline is one of the smartest preparatory things you can do as a writer. The three principal parts of every essay are the introduction, body, and conclusion. Now we'll explore the subject of organizing an essay in more detail.
The Most Common organizational tool that writers use is the outline—either in rough form or in a formal, detailed format. Stay calm now. The idea of writing an outline may scare you, but relax. This lesson is going to make the process of writing an outline very easy.
Why Write An Outline?
While writing an outline may seem like extra work—and hard work at that—the benefits of writing an outline are numerous:
- An outline provides a path for you to follow once you are immersed in the drafting process.
- An outline will let you know if your thesis is workable or weak. Your thesis may be too broad or too narrow, or it may not be making a strong enough assertion to support an entire essay. Whatever the weakness, it's likely to show up during the outlining process.
- An outline will alert you to weak areas in your argument; it will provide signals that you need to do more research or that you don't have enough support for your thesis.
- An outline will relieve a lot of your nervousness and anxiety about writing. You'll know ahead of time how your essay is going to develop, so you'll be less likely to experience writer's block, which is the paralysis that writers describe when they get stuck and don't know what to write next.
Writing An Informal Outline
The simplest outline format is merely a quick summary of what you plan to put in each paragraph. Here's a sample informal outline:
Writing A Formal Outline
Formal outlines are much more detailed; they include a lot of specific information about particular points that will be made and the supporting arguments that will be offered. A formal outline therefore provides a helpful guide to the writer as the essay progresses. Here is part of the formal outline that might be written for an essay on school uniforms.
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