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I Just Got Assigned a Paper, Now What?

I Just Got Assigned a Paper, Now What?

Author: Nate Muckley

We all have to start somewhere, and this will help you start writing.

You just got assigned a paper, now what? PANIC! No, I'm kidding...

Writing good papers is an important skill to have in school, but expressing your thoughts clearly and creatively goes beyond earning an A in English class. This packet will teach you how to start the paper writing process.

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Do you need ideas on what to do?  A great way to start is to BRAINSTORM!

     So, what do this funny-sounding word and unnecessarily large lightning bolt mean?

 Well, brainstorming is sitting down (or walking around if you like that better) and

thinking of a large list of possible things you can do.  In the case of writing a paper,

it's a large list of topics.  Sit down and write out whatever comes to mind for a few

minutes. Write down whatever you think of, no matter how stupid! Once you are done,

look over all your ideas, and decide what looks best!


     Also, one good idea might inspire another, and bring you through a chain of ideas to

 a good topic.

Organize your thoughts!

     Venn diagrams are an easy tool you can use to compare and contrast two subjects.  Each circle represents

a subject, and the space in the middle represents the common aspects of the subjects.

     It can also be done in a list format. The side columns for each topic, and again, the

center is used for the common aspects.

     Another method of organizing your thoughts is with a tree diagram.  Start with your main

topics at the top, and build upon ideas and smaller aspects of each idea as you go down.  Go back

and re-do parts of your tree diagram to make it clear if needed. A well-made diagram can

lead to a well-made paper!

Tree Diagram with Harry Potter

Source: Rowling, J. K. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Take a look at Venn diagrams

Ready? Set. GO!

   The writing process is a little different for everybody, but here are some good starting tips!



     Do some preliminary research to find out about the topic, or go over your notes or

memories of the book you read.  Using your beginning knowledge, the first major step is

to create a THESIS STATEMENT.  This is the main point of your essay.  It's one

singular idea (usually one sentence) that your ENTIRE essay revolves around. 


     Once you believe you have a solid thesis statement, begin to break down the topic.

 It's easy to think of breaking it down into THREE SOLID TOPICS.  You need to have

information on each topic though! You can do more or fewer topics, but as you begin

writing, three is a good, easy number.  Breaking down the entire topic into three easy

parts makes thinking about the project and writing it (or more likely typing it) much easier.


     Next up is  making an OUTLINE.  This is very useful.  Create an outline of the

paper.  Write down your thesis statement, the three topic areas you have, and the

information about each topic.


     Then WRITE!  There is no way around this step!  Sit down at your computer and

type out your essay, sticking to your outline, and try not to get too distracted ;-).

However, if you want to change something in your outline or even change you thesis

statement while writing, DO IT!  Just make sure you write it down in your outline what

you changed, so you can be consistent.


     Finally, after you've written you EDIT.  Read through your essay, pick out any

mistakes you made, and fix them.  See any awkward sentences? Rewrite them. Once

you've edited it, have someone else read it.  Get your parents, siblings, even teachers

to read it and find new things for you to improve.  Something really helpful to do is

to swap papers with a friend!  Your paper as fully edited until at least one other

person has read it.  And you know what they say, the more the merrier.


So, let's recap the main points:

     Make a THESIS STATEMENT, and break it down into THREE SOLID TOPICS.

Create an OUTLINE of what you want to say in the paper.  Then WRITE!  And

finally, EDIT your paper.

     There are many more ways to write a paper then what is presented here, but these

are great tips for burgeoning writers in junior high, or beginning high school.