The “writing” stage is often called drafting. When you draft, you should be focused mainly on ideas, rather than worrying too much about your grammar. Use your outline as you draft to make sure you don’t lose your focus.
Tip: Get it on Paper
One of the challenges we often have as writers is overcoming the belief that what we write needs to be good. The first draft is exactly that. It's a first version. Every time you come back to the essay to work on it, it will improve.
Watch this video clip of a designer creating a dress. Writing is a similar creative process. You need an outline, a clear idea of what you want it to be at the end. However, the first steps of the creation are very general. In fact, for most of this video, the pieces of fabric look like they could be part of anything. It isn't until later in the process when details come in. Notice how the designer will work on one part, but will return to it later multiple times. It is not finished before working on anything else.
So, when you are writing, think of the early drafts as the big cuts of fabric. Think about how this designer works from the biggest parts to the smallest parts. You don't need to worry as much about specific word choice or getting the grammar just right. Your focus should be getting the shape of the essay, the general ideas and organization.
You should not simply paste several quotes together into one body paragraph. Consider which pieces of your quotes are necessary to support and develop the topic sentence. This means that some pieces of quotes may be unnecessary because they don’t support the topic sentence. It’s also okay to divide large quotes into smaller quotes that focus on smaller ideas.
You will also need use your own words to connect quotes together. You will use your commentary to introduce some of your research, explain how a quote supports your topic sentence, explain what a quote means, or show how quotes are connected together.
After you use a quote, don’t simply summarize it; remember to justify or clarify the reason for using the quote.
Exercise 1: Outline to Body Paragraph
Below is an example of section of an outline with questions and sources for one topic sentence. Discuss how the writer combined this information. How do you think the outline helped the writer prepare for this first draft of the paragraph?
- TS: The Titanic was the most important invent at the 20th Century.
- Q1: How long does it take to learn vocabulary in a second language?
- "Yes, but only just. Titanic was built to the same design as her slightly older twin sister, Olympic, launched about seven months before Titanic on 20th October, 1910. Olympic, Titanic and Britannic, the third sister of the Olympic Class trio, were all 882ft 9ins long." (Maltin & Aston, 2011, p. 7)
- Q2: What was the real purpose of the Titanic?
- “Titanic, in full Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic, British luxury passenger liner that sank on April 14–15, 1912, during its maiden voyage, en route to New York City from Southampton, England, killing about 1,500
passengers and ship personnel. One of the most famous tragedies in modern history, it has inspired numerous stories, several films, and a musical and been the subject of much scholarship and scientific
speculation.” (Tikkanen, 2017, para. 1)
- Q3: How was the background history about the ships at that moment, that made the Titanic the most important?
- “In the early 1900s the transatlantic passenger trade was highly profitable and competitive, with ship lines vying to transport wealthy travelers and immigrants." (Tikkanen, 2017, para. 2)
Body Paragraph - First Draft:
The Titanic was the most important invent at the 20th Century. At that time, boat trips were the best way to travel around the world. The Titanic was the most important ship at that time because their special characteristics and technology used in their construction. The Titanic was one of the largest ships at the time, it was one of the Olympic Class trio which "were all 882ft 9ins long" (Maltin & Aston, 2011, p. 7). The Titanic provides all the luxury of a 5-star hotel, but it "sank on April 14–15, 1912, during its maiden voyage, en route to New York City from Southampton, England, killing about 1,500 passengers and ship personnel" (Tikkanen, 2017, para. 1). This is why the beautiful invention of the Titanic is remembered today as a historic tragedy.
Maltin, T., & Aston, E. (2011). 101 things you thought you knew about the Titanic... but didn't! Penguin Books.
Tikkanen, A. (2017, October). Titanic. Britannica. https://edtechbooks.org/-xIpD