Writing Process Rule #1 - The Five Steps

Writing Process Rule #1 - The Five Steps
In order to make a literate society, teachers of writing realized that there needed to be a number of steps so that any person could sit down and by the end of their project, have a well-crafted paper. After an examination of authors and writers, it was determined that most of what they did during their paper's writing process could be explained in five steps.
The first step is to brainstorm your ideas. This involves taking everything in your head and literally throwing it down on the page. Lists, webs, notes, whatever. The theory behind this is that in order to write a unique paper, you must use your prior knowledge and be motivated. So, write down all that you know about the topic and everything you can think of that interests you about it. This prevents writers from producing low quality work because if a writer is interested, and actually knows something about what they are writing, then the reader will be interested too. Conversely, if the writer finds that they are actually bored with the topic, or know very little, they should find inspiration, conduct research, or find another topic!

The second step is to organize your ideas. The best way to that is to use a graphic organizer. While you may have used one to get ideas for brainstorming, this organizer will help you organize the entire paper. Webs and outlines are the two most commonly used organizers, but you could make a bracket, 4-square, powernotes, or the infamous Five-Layer Hamburger. Regardless of the form chosen, it should be capable of organizing your essay into 5 parts.

Most essays have 5 paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a final conclusion. Each of these has a unique pattern, but all can be placed on the organizer. Most of the paragraphs will be between 3-8 sentences. Having chosen a topic and completed the first step of the writing process, label the organizer with: introduction, body paragraph 1, body paragraph 2, body paragraph 3, and conclusion. While looking at the brainstorm page they should start clustering the information into more manageable parts, deleting some, and adding some to their organizer page. In this way, it becomes easier to think of the essay as a whole. After determining the three main points that will prove or explain your thesis statement, place each of them in the organizer where is says, "body paragraph."

Use the brainstorm page and select information that can be grouped with the five labeled parts of the essay organizer. 3-5 details should be placed under each section, including the introduction and conclusion.

The final step is to label each of the five parts in the order in which you will write them. The introduction is #1, the body paragraphs are #2, #3, #4, and the conclusion is #5.

The third step of the writing process is the rough draft. It is important to review your brainstorm page just in case some of the information could be included while writing. Then, with the organizer in front of you, begin writing with #1, introduction, crafting your writing style, word usage, and tone appropriately. This is the creative and most challenging part. Move into the second, third, and fourth paragraphs as you prove your main thesis statement. The conclusion wraps it up. This is not that hard to understand; it's just hard to do. This, is the make or break time of your essay.

The fourth step is the editing and proofreading step. There are many ways to proofread, but essentially what you are doing is looking at the characters and words in your text. Look for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar issues at the word level. The most efficient way is to start with the last sentence and edit backwards to the beginning of the essay. Likewise, starting in the middle of the essay may help you find more errors as well. The editing step consists of looking at the meaning of the words and sentences. For this skill, you must think in clauses, phrases, and in sentences. It would be best to look at each paragraph in isolation, and then edit/revise from beginning to end. Look for organization, logic, proof of points and main ideas, etc. Sentences can be added, deleted, reordered, and paragraphs can even be scrapped and done over again. Write notes down on the side of the paper. This step is best used with an editing pen that stands out in contrast to the color of the rough draft print or text.

The fifth and final step is the final draft. At this point, the writer is looking to create a final draft that has minimal errors, looks good, and essentially proves what their thesis stated. This is the time to check the essay requirements and add titles, cover pages, and work cited pages as needed.

At the end of the fifth step you have finished! This will create, for the majority of writing students, a complete and thoroughly average essay. The secret is that published authors use this as a process, not as a mechanical list of steps. When they write, they use the other two rules of the writing process. In order to make an extraordinary essay that meets your full potential, you will need to either a.) write a lot to gain experience, or b.) learn to hop around on the steps. It's dangerous, but adds a level of excitement to your paper that may take it over the top!

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