Writing the First Draft
What Is A First Draft?
A first draft is just that -- a first try. If you are lucky,
your first draft will capture the basic form and content needed
to shape the final document. In many cases, however, your
draft may be a loose collection of ideas -- a type of directed
freewriting. Some first drafts need only fine tuning and editing,
while others may have to be discarded.
Strategies For Writing A First Draft
- Review the assignment, your thesis, and your outline.
To produce an effective draft, it is important to keep focused
on the final product. Make sure that you address the needs
of the assignment. Keep your reader in mind as you examine
your thesis and outline.
- Be open to new ideas -- but avoid becoming sidetracked.
As you write, one idea will no doubt spark new connections,
memories, and associations. To keep your draft focused,
review your notes as your write. Realize that you may
come up with many ideas that are interesting but not appropriate
for your paper. A good essay is focused -- it is not simply
a collection of everything you have to say about a subject.
- Don't stop to make corrections, check facts, or
look up words.
Your goal in creating a first draft is to get your ideas
on paper. If you stop to check spelling or search your textbooks
for a statistic -- you may run out of time or break your
train of thought. Instead, note problems as you write. Underline
or circle words you think misspelled or misused. Make parenthetical
reminders to check facts or verify quotes. Keep writing
and get your main ideas down.
- If you run out of ideas, return to prewriting
to explore ideas or change topics.
Sometimes you may find yourself becoming stalled after a
few paragraphs. You may find that you cover all the ideas
on your outline in a hundred words. Read your paper
aloud. Do you fully explain your ideas and support them
with details or do you simply state them? Can relevant details
be added to keep the paper depth and texture?
- If the draft becomes too long, review your topic,
thesis, and outline
If you discover that the draft is getting longer than you
expected, pause and examine your goals. Have you limited
your topic? Are you trying to address a subject unsuited
to the assignment? Could your thesis be tightened? Are there
secondary details that could be deleted? Read your paper
aloud -- are there redundant passages that could be trimmed
When you complete the first draft, set it aside to
"cool" before attempting to revise and edit it.
When you return to your writing, review your assignment and
goals. Before beginning to correct grammar or adding new ideas,
make sure that your draft is on target.
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Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark