The skills you use to write well-crafted sentences and paragraphs can in turn be used to develop essays. An essay is a short piece of writing on a particular subject.
That means that essays are made up of paragraphs; turning those paragraphs into essays means going through the writing process, which is a series of steps that go into writing a successful essay or other writing project.
It’s important to remember that writing is a process, not a product, and you won’t necessarily move in a line. Instead, you’ll start and stop, move forward and back, finish and begin all over again.
That’s part of what writing is about, and learning these steps will help you embrace the recursive nature of writing.
The series of steps that make up the writing process is going to be a little different for every writer.
However, the overall process will follow the same pattern and go through the same overall progression of steps:
Prewriting is a stage in the writing process during which the writer brainstorms on the topic and generates ideas preparatory to composing a first draft. In other words, this is the stage where you get to let your mind do its work, generating and organizing a whole host of ideas about your topic.
Letting yourself spend some time thinking through your opinions and interests in a topic is key not just to developing interesting essays, but also to slaying the dragon of writer’s block.
There are a few prewriting games that you can play with yourself, such as:
Imagine your essay topic is the effect of pets on psychological well being, and you decide to do some free-writing. You might start with your initial thoughts on the topic:
Then you might move through a series of connecting thoughts about how this topic could come together:
Doing this kind of brainstorming can lead to an outline, which is a crucial element of the prewriting stage. Outlining is like drawing a sketch of your essay where you plot out the images you’re going to draw on.
You’ll have your main idea, usually in the form of a thesis statement, and then section summaries of what will become the body paragraphs of your essay.
Once you’ve generated your ideas and outline in the prewriting stage, you’re ready to start drafting. Drafting is the act of composing a piece of writing; it’s where you get to take your sketch and fill in the details.
Remember, just as it might take multiple layers of paint and many tries to get a picture perfect, so too will it likely take multiple drafts before your ideas are ready.
This is ultimately a good thing because every draft you build makes the final draft that much better.
Revision is a process of re-envisioning an essay or other writing project; it’s the stage where you look at the big picture of the whole essay.
That means you’re re-seeing:
You’re then evaluating how well each of those things is working, and incorporating changes to form a new draft. This might happen several times as you go back around again and again to get the image perfect.
This is because you are rethinking the thoughts that you’ve already put on paper, reorganizing and reconsidering what you want to say and how you want to say it, and rewriting and refining your words so that the text matches the overall big picture of your piece.
You should always start at the thesis statement and ask whether it still matches the direction that the essay has taken. This thesis statement specifically references companionship, but there aren’t any specific examples or evidence about companionship in the actual essay.
That means that the essay has taken a different direction than the thesis statement thought it would. Therefore, you’d either need to revise the thesis statement to reflect what’s been written, or add in a paragraph about companionship:
Either way, you want to make sure that the thesis and the examples reflect one another accurately, and either option will lead to a more successful essay. In other words, the revision stage involves starting at the thesis statement, and then looking at each individual paragraph’s examples to assess their connection to the main idea.
After you’ve revised and generated a draft that you think has all the information it needs, it’s time to edit. Editing is improving the sentences, word choices, and overall style of an essay or other piece of writing.
In your last step, you looked at the big picture; here you’re zeroing in on the brush strokes that make up that picture. You’re going to look really closely at the language you use and how clear it is, so you should have already completed the revision of the big picture.
When you edit, you’re looking for:
Once you have a draft that you’ve revised and edited so that its language and ideas are the best they can be, it’s time to proofread.
Proofreading means fixing grammar and mechanics, including spelling and capitalization, punctuation, and formatting errors, in an essay or other piece of writing, as well as correcting commonly confused words.
This is the step where you clean up your work and make sure that it’s ready to be seen by its audience without any smudges or messes left over from when you were creating.
Proofreading helps you catch these last little errors before you’re ready to show your masterpiece to the world.
Lastly, it’s important to understand plagiarism, which is presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
This can be deliberate cheating when it’s intentional, or just a careless author forgetting to give credit to the person who came up with an idea or quote when it’s unintentional.
Either way, plagiarism is a serious problem that you want to be careful to avoid because not only is this an ethical issue, but it can also lead to serious consequences.
You want to avoid these consequences at all costs, so the best thing to do is to carefully and consistently give credit where credit is due.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Martina Shabram.
A series of steps that go into writing a successful essay or other writing project.
A stage in the writing process during which the writer brainstorms the topic and generates ideas preparatory to composing a first draft.
The act of composing a piece of writing.
The process of re-visioning an essay or other writing project.
The process of improving the sentences, word choices, and overall style of an essay or other piece of writing.
The process of fixing grammar, mechanics including spelling and capitalization, punctuation, and formatting errors in an essay or other piece of writing as well as correcting commonly confused words.
Presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
A short piece of writing on a particular subject.