Tips on Writing First Drafts
In virtually any paper, first drafts are rough plans or rough sketches of how a written piece will look on completion. Sometimes, if it is satisfactory, a first draft can be the final paper. Usually, however, additional work is required before a paper can be considered final. First drafts provide an opportunity to expand the key points in an outline and present them in sample format. While it may appear to be something of a paradox, the finer detail in a first draft is not hugely important even though this is one of the most crucial stages of writing any paper.
The Steps Involved in Writing an Essay’s First Draft
- Look closely at your assignment’s instructions and at the topic (where this was allocated by a tutor). Your outline should be revised accordingly. This is required to help you understand the tasks that need completing in your first draft, and to ensure you fulfil the assignment’s requirements.
- Draft an introductory paragraph for your essay. Do not get stuck on form at this stage. The introduction should let the reader know what your topic is and your stance on it. Furthermore, an introductory paragraph should be interesting if it is to get the attention of your readers. However, this part can be left until later since it should be crafted in a meticulous and thoughtful manner.
- Using your outline, start putting your thoughts and ideas onto paper. Here, the primary aim is to let these start taking shape and to establish a broad direction for their on-going development. Writing a complete paper is not the aim at this point.
- Sketch out your essay’s concluding paragraph. This should not present any fresh information or ideas. Rather it should restate the thesis statement and recap briefly on the main points from the body paragraphs.
- Read back over your draft to check that all the information you need to include is present, but do not make any additional adjustments since this can be done in the subsequent and/or final draft.
Dos and Don’ts
What You Should Do
- Revise the first draft you wrote if it seems overly long. In fact, if it is very long, and remembering it is just a rough draft, think of the length your final paper will be when you elaborate on each individual point or idea.
- Read back over your draft numerous times and look again at your topic and assignment’s requirements if you are stuck. Do a little brainstorming to overcome writer’s block.
- While writing leave blank spaces within the text. You may find details that are essential but that need not be included until later. To stop yourself getting distracted by irrelevant thoughts, leave spaces that you can come back and fill in later.
- Complete your initial draft as quickly as possible i.e. the actual writing. Whenever you pause to consider certain words or phrases, it is likely you will start going into detail, start analyzing, or start comparing. You will find yourself looking for the right words and phrases and forget about the remainder of your draft.
What You Should Not Do
- You need not devote a lot of attention to spelling, punctuation, style, grammar, word choices, and other small issues in a first draft because these do not matter much at this stage. Here, it is your thoughts on the topic that matter most.
- You need not write down what you are thinking in detail. It is usually sufficient to jot down a few concise and succinct sentences. You can return to various ideas later and still not lose focus.
- Do not think it is unnecessary to write a first draft. This is still essential even if you have created an outline. Although an outline is a great way of helping you decide what you should write, a draft helps show you how to do it. First drafts are a great way of shaping the writer’s thoughts, and so they are an essential part of writing an essay.
- You should not wait for the right moment or a special time to find inspiration for drafting an essay. The prospect may leave you feeling discouraged, but think of it as inevitable. If you do not, you will probably keep finding reasons not to do it.
Frequents Mistakes in Writing First Draft
- Revising and editing a draft while the writing process is still underway. If you pause to think over every sentence you write, it is likely that flow will suffer. In any case, there is often an in-built critic or editor in most writers to raise the alarm if there are imperfections in a written piece. Hence, you should first deal with the entire draft, and only then should you think about proofreading and editing it.
- Attending too carefully to secondary facts, arguments, and other small irregularities. The primary aim of a first draft is to outline all main points or ideas, which you can flesh out later. Make a quick note in the margin if you feel you are in danger of forgetting an important piece of information.
- Overlooking the role that first drafts play in the process of writing an essay. While you may feel a draft is a waste of time, you are actually working towards your final paper. Understanding how an outline works in its full and final form is important.