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Stages of Writing

Prewriting Generating strategies, ideas, and data for a given writing job or assignment.

Prewriting takes place prior to starting the initial draft of a paper. This includes note taking, planning and discussion.

Planning Thinking about the material and developing a plan to achieve the goal of the writing task.

Planning involves consideration of the aim of the text and its rhetorical position. The writer should consider how these factors are related and how they are joined to the information being generated during the prewriting phase. This stage also involves selection of support for the assertions contained therein and coming up with an organizational structure.

Drafting The first attempt to write a paper using the proposed structural elements.

A draft gives the writer a basis upon which to expound and develop the final paper.

Pausing Period of analysis and reflection that does not include the physical task of writing itself.

Writers need to stop writing and reflect on the direction in which their paper is going. They should think about the points they want to make and insure that they are effectively making those points.

Reading Reading the work periodically helps the writer develop it further.

People who write well also read well. It is imperative for every writer to pause periodically to read over what he/she has written and make small adjustments and considerations along the way.

Revising Making necessary major changes to paper's main points and structural elements to make the document more readable and communicative.

Revising takes place after each draft is written. The writer may have learned additional information during the course of writing a paper and wish to make changes that reflect those views.

Editing Adjustments that concern themselves with grammar and structural elements as well as language and facts.

Editing is done at the end of the writing period in order to give the document a flawless, professional appearance.

Publishing Presenting the finished writing to its intended audience.

Publishing includes turning a paper in to a teacher, a boss, or an agency or having it printed in a publication.

Essay Writing Tips on Vocabulary

Writing an essay should include standard vocabulary usage that is relatively formal. In order that a writer give a document a seamless, professional appearance, the following checklist of items should be carefully regarded:

  • Special attention should be paid to homophones, homographs and homonyms. Words such as hole/whole or hear/hear are common errors. Misuse of these words can give a paper an amateurish appearance.
  • Adjectives that end in ing and ed are commonly misused. When writing an essay, the writer should pay particular attention to these things and use ed if a state is denoted and ing if a quality is being described.
  • Sometimes, a writer will use English words that are similar in spelling, meaning and sound to a homonym, but that are not, in fact, homonyms. These can be particularly taxing errors because not even computer spellcheckers can spot them as errors. Examples include: accept used as a verb, except used as a preposition, advise used as a verb and advice as a noun. Anyone who is writing an essay should note these subtle differences and be sure to use the correct words.

Stylistic Tips

The style of an essay is of utmost importance. Here are some good tips on stylistic considerations:

Do not use non-standard words and contractions

The manner in which one speaks is used in informal writing. However, when writing a more formal essay, a more formal and correct language should be applied. This gives the essay an overall feeling of professionalism.

Do not use elliptical sentences

Use of elliptical sentences denotes colloquial speech that depends on non-verbal and contextual means of communication. These methods of communicating are fine for everyday communication. However, they are incorrect in writing and can make the work difficult for the reader to understand the message that the writer is attempting to convey.

Avoid run-on sentences

The formal writing style tends to have sentences that are longer than sentences in an informal style. However, caution should be exercised in using run-on or too long sentences. These can obscure the idea being expressed and tire the reader. It is difficult to enjoy reading when the structure of a long, run-on sentence requires so much attention. Use brief, accurate, well written sentences instead.

Avoid using too many short sentences in succession

The writer should be aware that using sentences that are too short can be an effective means of attracting the reader's attention. However, used in excess, they can make the essay look boring and appear simplistic.

Do not use words and sentence structures that are archaic

Sometimes, students attempt to formalize their language and become far too extreme, using archaic words and sentence structure. These create an impression of artificial authority in writing and should be avoided.

Try to give writing a realistic tone

The writer should use a real life context and a style that is appropriate to the occasion. Do not use childish or overly-formal language.

Do not repeat unnecessarily

Synonyms should be used to describe the same thing repeatedly if it is necessary to repeat oneself at all in an essay.

Punctuation

To create a powerful and effective essay, use the following checklist for correct punctuation:

  • The end of a direct question should be followed with a question mark. Use a full stop for an indirect question.
  • Exclamation points indicate an emotionally expressed sentence, or they are used for emphatic purposes. Using too many exclamation points can have the same effect as verbally shouting, so they are to be used sparingly.
  • Hyphen links parts of compound words. Not all compound words need hyphens, however. Apostrophes are used for contractions. Be sure to place them in the correct place.
  • Commas are used to separate items in a list, to join clauses of a compound sentence, to single out forms of apposition and the phrases in a syntactic position. They are also used to individuate parenthetic words and phrases.
  • Commas are used to separate relative clauses when they are non-defining, to separate days, months and years, and to separate sequential numbers.

Grammar

When writing, one should only use sentence structures about which the writer is 100% certain. When in doubt, use a reference guide to double check.

The following list can help writers focus on the key grammar areas when checking an essay:

  • Simple sentence: check all sentences for subject and predicate. Do not introduce them with a connector for a subordinate clause.
  • Complex sentence: when a subject comes before an adjective clause, refrain from adding a subject after the adjective clause.
  • Subject-predicate agreement: subjects should agree with their predicates in number. Use a compound subject for a compound verb.
  • Refrain from the use of adverbs in the place of adjectives and vice versa.
  • Use correct capitalization.
  • Pay attention to comparative and superlative forms.