The next step in the writing journey is drafting and writing the paper. A draft is a complete version of a piece of writing, but it is not the final version. After you draft a paper, you will have the opportunity to revise it, and then to edit and proofread it (as detailed in Chapter 8). The first draft gives you a working version that you will later improve.
Basic elements of a first draft
The previous chapter taught you how to develop a topic outline to direct your writing. Here, you will learn what a first draft looks like, which will help you make the creative leap from the outline to the first draft. A first draft should include the following elements:
- Piques the audience’s interest, conveys what the paper is about (i.e., the main idea), and motivates readers to keep reading.
- Provides the thesis statement, if one is applicable or required, to present the controlling idea of the entire piece of writing.
- Includes several paragraphs with a topic sentence in each paragraph that states the main idea of the paragraph and connects the idea to the thesis statement or the main idea of the paper.
- Supporting sentences in each paragraph develop or explain the topic sentence. Depending on the type of writing (e.g., reflective, persuasive), these may be specific facts, examples, anecdotes, or other details that elaborate on the topic sentence.
- Reinforces the main idea or thesis statement and leaves the audience with a feeling of completion.
You may want to note your purpose and audience on an index card that you clip to your paper (or keep next to your computer) as illustrated in Figure 7.1. Write notes to yourself on the card – for example, what the audience might not know – so that you will remember to address those issues as you write.
Figure 7.1: Index card with purpose and audience
Activities: Check Your Understanding
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