Helpful Information for Writers
You’ve got a topic. You’ve done some research. Now what? Prewriting strategies help you focus your thoughts on a topic so that you can develop a well-written, well-developed argument. It all begins with asking the right questions and making a plan. Prewriting is an important step in any student’s writing process. The following resources can help you to find a topic or get started writing a paper:
Getting Started Strategies
Everyone experiences writer’s block. Staring at a blank page can be overwhelming and intimidating. These strategies can help you ask questions about your topic to get you started in the write direction.
- Clustering (University of Richmond)
- Cubing (University of Richmond)
- Keeping a Prewriting Journal (University of Richmond)
- Planning (Invention) (Purdue University)
Thesis Statements and Outlines
Usually, a thesis statement makes an assertion or expresses an opinion about the subject. It lets your audience know the scope and purpose of your essay and gives perspective and focus to all the other ideas in your paper. You may want to refer back to this website on Thesis Statements for more help on constructing thesis statements and choosing topics. Remember writing and research are cyclical processes, so your thesis may go through several revisions as you proceed through the research and writing process.
You may be used to writing reports, exploratory essays, or personal narratives. Research paper writing will take you into new territory as you explore ideas and topics with an analytical edge. Research papers require quite a bit of planning and time management. The resources below will show you the steps involved in writing a research paper.
First drafts are hard to begin even for experienced writers. In writing your first draft focus more on getting ideas and words on paper than correct grammar and form. You’ll have time to correct these later in the revision stage. Also, if using sources you may find at this point that you will need more sources to develop an idea or different sources because your thesis has changed.
Writing the Introduction
Where should I begin? Should I open with a startling statistic or a probing question? How to introduce your essay can be a perplexing problem. It should capture the attention of the audience while clearly laying out your position or direction for the paper. Read on for more tips.
Developing the Argument
So what? Why does it matter? These are definitely not questions you want your readers to have when they finish your paper. The main goal of most academic writing is to take a position on a topic. While your paper may not sound like an argument or even have the word “argument” in the text, you should take a persuasive tone in your writing.
Working with Sources
It may be tempting to use sources as “filler” material for your ideas or to stretch the length of the paper. It may also be tempting just to copy word for word from sources when you’re having trouble coming up with ideas of your own. However, sources provide support and credibility for the claims made in your paper. Solid research provides the necessary evidence needed to back up your argument.
Developing Paragraphs and Using Transitions
Paragraphs are the workhorses of your essays. Well-developed paragraphs help readers understand your thesis and guide them through the discussion of the topic. In the same way transitions, between sentences and paragraphs, signal changes in ideas or thought to your readers. These websites give some basic principles for writing sound paragraphs and using transitions.
Writing the Conclusion
A strong finish to your essay will leave your readers with a lasting impression. Use the conclusion to tie up loose ends, add final thoughts on your argument, and leave your readers with a lasting impression of your essay.
For help learning to evaluate sources, visit the King University Libraries’ guide for How to Start Your Research: Evaluating Sources.
For help learning how to avoid plagiarism, visit the King University Libraries’ guide for How to Avoid Plagiarism.
Here’s where the hard work begins. The revision stage is time for you to evaluate your writing in terms of coherence, unity, organization, and content. If you have time it’s very helpful to put away your writing for a day or two and then come back to it with fresh eyes. After you have examined the structure and logic of your paper, then begin editing and proofreading for grammar and spelling. You may even find in the revision stage that you need more evidence or support for your ideas. If so, head back to those research resources once more.
Did you know that the King University Writing Center is available to help you with your writing?
For an appointment, call 423.652.6326.
Using correct grammar in your writing increases your credibility and readability. These resources provide tutorials and exercises that will refresh your understanding of grammar and usage.
Are these words synonyms for the same practice? Not necessarily. In the beginning stages of revision, focus mainly on the content and ideas in your writing. Is there enough evidence to support your ideas? Have you structured your essay appropriately for the style of writing and the content? Does your logic make sense? Once you’ve analyzed the content, then you can focus on editing and proofreading for grammar and style.
For help with citations, visit the King University Libraries’ guide for How to Cite Your Sources.
Online Writing Lab Guidelines
Please note these guidelines before you submit your paper:
- There is a 48-72 hour turnaround time on receiving your paper back from the OWL. Over the weekend and at busy times in the semester, we may need more time. Submit your paper early in order to receive feedback in time to make any needed adjustments in your paper.
- You must submit your paper as a MS Word document. We are not able to open and reply to other formats.
- The OWL is closed during official school breaks and operates on limited hours during weekends. It may take a bit longer to receive a document back that you submit over a weekend.
- We do not guarantee any particular grade on an assignment. We will give you advice on improving your writing but are not responsible in any way for the grade that you receive. That grade will be dependent on the changes that you make and how well you meet your professor’s expectations.
- We will only comment on grammar issues in the first two pages of a submitted assignment. Each error will be noted once and explained. You will need to read your entire document to check for similar errors in the rest of the paper. We will not proofread or make any changes for you.
- We will comment on issues such as format and genre, thesis statements, organization, paragraphing, and development. These comments can be found either in the body of your paper or at the end of your document.
- Please submit a rubric, or assignment sheet, or both along with your paper. Your review may be delayed if OWL does not receive these important supporting documents.
- We typically only review each paper once. If you would like to re-submit a paper for further review, please include in your email specific questions about particular parts of the paper you would like us to address. We will not do a second review unless you follow this protocol.
- To submit your paper, email it to [email protected] or [email protected]. Be sure that the paper is a Word document.
- The document will be returned to you as an email attachment with comments to your King email.