Rough Outline Essay Text

A first draft is a rough sketch of your future piece of writing. Sometimes your first draft may become the final one due to it being rather satisfactory, but in most cases, it requires further work. A first draft is a way to elaborate on the main points of your essay stated in your outline, giving them a sample form. It may seem paradoxical, but while being one of the most important stages of the writing process, most first drafts don’t require a tremendous attention to detail.

Steps for Writing a First Draft of an Essay

  1. Take a closer look at your assignment and the topic if it was given to you by your instructor. Revise your outline as well. This is needed for your clearer understanding of the tasks you must accomplish within the draft, and to make sure you meet the requirements of the assignment.
  2. Sketch out the introduction of your essay. At this point, don’t get stalled on form; introductory part should inform readers about what the topic is, and state your point of view according to this topic. The introduction should also be interesting to read to capture readers’ attention, but this task has more to do with thoughtful and scrupulous writing, and thus should be left for later.
  3. Based on your outline, start transferring your ideas to paper. The main task here is to give them the initial form and set a general direction for their further development, and not to write a full paper.
  4. Chalk out the summarizing paragraph of your essay. It should not contain any new ideas, but briefly reintroduce those from the main body, and restate your thesis statement.
  5. Read through the draft to see if you have included the information you wanted to, but without making any further corrections, since this is a task for the second and final drafts.

Key Points to Consider

  1. While an outline is needed to decide on what to write, the first draft is more about answering a question: “How to write?” In the first draft, you shape your ideas out, and not simply name and list them, as you did in an outline.
  2. When you start writing your thoughts down, it may happen that one idea or concept sparks new connections, memories, or associations. Be attentive to such sidetracks; choose those of them that might be useful for your writing, and don’t delve in those that are undesirable in terms of the purpose of your paper (academic, showing opinion). A successful piece of writing is focused on its topic, and doesn’t include everything you have to say on a subject.
  3. Making notes for yourself in the margins or even in the middle of the text is a useful practice. This can save you time and keep you focused on the essence of your essay without being distracted by secondary details. For example, such notes could look like this: “As documented, the Vietnam War cost the United States about … (search for the exact sum of money and interpret it in terms of modern exchange rates) U. S. dollars.”
  4. When you finish crafting your first draft, it is useful to put it aside and completely quit thinking about writing for a certain period of time. Time away will allow you to have a fresh look at your draft when you decide to revise it.

Do and Don’t

Do
  • Do revise your first draft if it looks too long. Indeed, if your first draft is lengthy—which is actually a rough sketch—imagine how long your paper will become if you expand on each idea chalked out and fill it with factual data.
  • Do reread the draft several times and return to the requirements of your assignment and topic if you feel you are getting stalled. Use brainstorming techniques to get out of writer’s block.
  • Do leave empty space in the text when writing. It may happen that you come across certain details that are necessary for your essay, but can be left out at the moment. To avoid being distracted by thoughts that are not connected with your focus, leave blank space in their place—you will be able to return to them later.
  • Do set a time limit for yourself. A reasonable deadline will help you work more intensely and make everything in time, and at the same time you will avoid overworking and intellectual exhaustion.
  • Do write the first draft as rapidly as you can. This point refers to the procedure of writing itself. When you stop to think over a certain phrase, you will most likely dig into details, analysis, and comparisons; you will start seeking for the best option for this particular phrase, thus forgetting about the rest of the draft.
Don’t
  • Don’t pay too much attention to punctuation, grammar, spelling, word choice, style of writing, and other minor peculiarities which completely don’t matter in the first draft; your thoughts on the subject is what matters at this point.
  • Don’t write your thoughts down in details. Usually it is enough to write down a couple of concise sentences to be able to return to a certain idea later without losing the discourse.
  • Don’t consider crafting a first draft of an essay as unnecessary. Even if you have an outline written, a draft is still necessary; while an outline helps you to figure out what to write about, the first draft can help you understand how to write. The first draft helps you to shape out your thoughts, and thus is a crucial part of the essay writing process.
  • Don’t wait for a special occasion to come for inspiration to draft your essay. You may feel discouraged, but treat it as “do or die.” Otherwise, you will constantly find justifications for doing nothing.

Common Mistakes When Writing a First Draft of an Essay

– Editing and revising a draft in process of writing. If you stop after each sentence to think it over, you will most likely lose your flow; besides, many people have an internal editor or critic who can’t stand it if the material is written imperfectly. Therefore, first you should deal with the whole draft, and only after that proofread and edit it.

– Paying too much attention to secondary arguments, factual material, and other minor peculiarities. The main goal of the first draft is to sketch out your main ideas; you can fill it with details later. If you think you will forget about an important fact or remark, make brief notes in margins.

– Ignoring the role of a first draft in the essay writing process. Though it may seem you are wasting time working on a draft, you are working on the essay itself. You need to understand how your outline works in full written form.

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European Grey Wolf

Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress.... –John Muir

Why an argumentative essay?

Most of the papers students write in college are arguments. This should not be surprising. We are surrounded by them. Every time we watch television, surf the Internet or read a magazine, we are bombarded with ads. Ads are persuasive arguments trying to get consumers to buy or do something. Here are a couple of ads that use interesting twists to make their argument: Kleenex Tissue Ad 1990- "Teach Them Not To Share"

  • Irony is "theuseofwordstoconvey one meaningthatistheoppositeofitsliteralmeaning" ("Irony").
  • What is ironic about this ad?
  • What is the main argument of the Kleenex ad?

Save America's Forests

    • What is ironic about this ad?
    • What is the main argument of the "Save America's Forests" ad?
    • Is irony an effective way to make an argument?
Elements of argument

When writing or analyzing arguments, we begin by examining how the argument appeals to the reader.  There are three types of appeals utilized in arguments: logos or logical, pathos or emotional, and ethos or ethical appeals.

  • Logos or the logical appeal relies upon well-developed, well-organized and well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence from reliable, authoritative sources. When writing argumentative essays and papers, we rely heavily upon the logical appeal to make our case.
    • The evidence utilized in the logical appeal is usually research-based evidence: statistics, clinical studies, any empirical evidence collected carefully and methodically.
    • This is also why we write in third person. We let the evidence drive our arguments, so readers do not think our work is based upon our biased viewpoint.
  • Pathos or emotional appeal recognizes that humans are emotional beings. The key to using the emotional appeal successfully in papers is to provide an opportunity for an emotional response and not to try and orchestrate an emotional response.
    • An example of the wrong use of an emotional appeal are infomercials for organizations like Care. While there is no doubt their work and message is important, they try to manipulate the audience with the use of emotional music, manipulative photographs, with an emotional narrative running beneath the music and images. While this may be okay for non-profit organizations, it does not work in college papers. Do not try to manipulate your audience this way.
    • Also, do not try to use emotionally charged language. Stay in third person and avoid sounding biased, accusatory or self-righteous. As a writer, the people you are trying to persuade are the people who either disagree with you or are not sure. By sounding accusatory or self-righteous, you will put the opposition on the defensive, and you have already lost your argument.
    • The proper use of emotions is through narrative case studies. Case studies provide the opportunity to appeal to readers' emotions. The key is not to tell the readers what to feel or to try and manipulate the readers to feel a specific emotion. Instead, writers tell the story and allow the readers to decide how they want to respond. Readers can become emotionally involved with the topic or not. It is up to them. This works well for social issues like hunger and homelessness, bullying, child abuse, or illegal immigration.  The blending of specific case studies with empirical evidence creates a deeply meaningful approach to argument. If I am talking about homeless children in America, by providing the statistics on the large number of children effected by this issue along with stories of the struggles of specific children, this drives the point home. We have a name and face to go with those numbers making the argument very human.
  • Ethos or the ethical appeal relates to the writer's personna being projected through the work. By using an unbiased tone and unbiased language, we project an image of trustworthiness and credibility. That is also why we use credible sources. We, as writers of college papers, do not have any credibility yet with our audience. By using authoritative, reliable sources, we borrow their credibility to help persuade readers to adopt our point of view. We are effectively saying, it is not just me that thinks this way. Here is a testimonial from Dr. So and So and his research that supports it. The research, surveys or clinical studies provides the evidence that supports the argument.
  • Looking back at the ads above, what types of appeals did those ads use?

Beyond the use of these appeals, there are some other elements to consider when analyzing or writing arguments: audience,purpose, a well defined issue, compelling evidence, refutation, and persona.

  • Audience: What audience does the writer have in mind? Who is the target audience the writer is trying to persuade?
    • As a writer, your audience is the first consideration. This determines the language you will use, the sources you will cite, and the approach you will take.
    • For example, if I were writing an anti-abortion paper, I would address a panel of scientists much differently than a church congregation. Some of my sources would change, and my language use would probably change. For scientists, I would sound more clinical. For the church congregation, I would sound more emotional.
    • My evidence would change, too. For scientists, I would use clinical evidence. For a church congregation. I would use sacred text.
    • What if my target audience were children instead of adults? Once again, some of my sources would change and my approach would be different.
  • Purpose/Thesis: Why are you writing it? What are you trying to prove?
    • The purpose is the thesis statement.
    • As a writer, you need to know why you are writing the paper.
    • It cannot be just to fulfill a requirement.
    • It is imperative that your position is clear. What exactly are you arguing? It should be very apparent which side you are on and why.
    • Provide the reasoning behind your position.
    • Remember: do not state it overtly like this: The purpose of this essay is to prove that potential dog owners must research breeds in order to choose dogs that best suit their lifestyles and opt to spay or neuter them if the overcrowded dog population is ever going to be solved.
    • This is considered weak and childish.
    • That said, I do have a good thesis statement if I drop the initial part: Potential dog owners must research breeds in order to choose dogs that best suit their lifestyles and then spay or neuter them if the overcrowded dog population is ever going to be solved.
    • Here is an example from a student paper. Although the American flag is worthy of great esteem, the government cannot take away the right to desecrate the flag without taking away all that it stands for–freedom.
  • A Well-Defined issue: What exactly is being argued in the paper? What is included or not included?
    • As a writer, it is your job to set parameters around your argument. Be sure to clearly explain the main argument of the paper. For example, if I were writing an anti-abortion paper, I might set the parameters around third trimester. This defines exactly what will be included and what will not be included. In this example, the paper is against third trimester abortions only, not abortion in general.
  • Compelling evidence: What kinds of evidence are utilized in the paper? Is the evidence sound? Does it come from authoritative sources?
    • Be sure to use reliable sources. Do not just Google the topic and grab the random information that may pop up.
    • Use journal articles when possible because they are usually written by authorities in a specific field. They will provide multiple sources for their information because they must cite their sources.
    • When using Internet sources, pay attention to the URL. What is the domain name? Is it a .edu, .net, .com, .org, .gov, .mil? How does this influence the information being provided?
    • Who is the author? What is the author's background?
    • A part of what makes your argument compelling is the variety of sources that you use and the credibility of those sources. You cannot win an argument with random information.
    • Do not rely heavily upon a single source to carry your paper. A variety of sources shows that you have done your diligence as a writer and increases your credibility.
  • Refutation: Does the author anticipate the opposition's main arguments? Is the author prepared with counterarguments and compelling evidence that can persuade the opposition to adopt a different view?
    • Refutation or rebuttal is incredibly important to your argument. You cannot write a one-sided argument.
    • You must first briefly identify an opposition's point. Then immediately address it with counterarguments and compelling evidence.
    • As stated earlier, it is the opposition that you are trying to convince. So, how well you handle this section of your paper will determine its effectiveness as an argument.
  • Persona: What is the author's attitude toward the topic? It is hostile, sarcastic, irate, or reasonable? What kind of language and tone are being used?
    • We touched on this when we talked about the ethical appeal.
    • Your tone needs to be calm and reasonable.
    • Your language needs to be honest, clear and respectful.
    • Avoid aggressive, confrontational or biased language and tone.
How to write the argument . . .

First, you need to determine what kind of argument you are writing. Are you writing a position paper, pro/con? Sample topics would include illegal immigration, wolf protection programs, paying college football players. Or, are you writing a solution paper, solving a problem? Sample topics include bullying, homelessness, pollution. Next, identify what you already know about this topic. Write a brief outline establishing what you want to argue on this topic? Establish the purpose of your argument. Establishing this before you start researching the topic will make it easier for you to determine what you need to cite in your paper. Next choose an appropriate format.

  1. Block
  2. Rebuttal Throughout - only works with pro/con topics

Block:

I. Introduction & Thesis Statement

II. Background information - this section is necessary for solution arguments but sometimes unnecessary for position arguments.

A. Define key words and terms that will help to define the parameters of your argument B. Provide background information. If I want to solve global warming, I first need to explain what it is and how it works, so I can show readers how my solution will fix it. C. Establish the severity of the problem. In real life, solutions cost money. If you want taxpayers to pay for it, you need to clearly establish that the problem is severe and must be addressed.

III. First claim: For death penalty because it will stop overcrowding

A. Give statistics on overcrowding B. Give statistics on future problems if no solution is provided C. Explain how the process will help D. Explain how if appeal process is limited this will further help the situation E. Transition

IV. 2nd claim: For death penalty because it will stop repeat offenders

A. Give statistics on repeat offenders who commit murder B. Give statistics if this is not stopped C. Explain how process would work if implemented D. Explain how this would also stop overcrowding because repeat offenders would not be imprisoned E. Transition

V. 3rd claim: for death penalty because it costs less money

A. Give statistics on the cost of housing B. Compare that to the cost of a limited appeal process C. Explain how this will work if implemented D. Explain how this too relates to previous info E. Transition

VI. Rebuttal: Rebuttal of antideath penalty arguments

A, List a few of the opposition's counterarguments (three) B. Take each one, one at a time, and supply statistics to prove it wrong, example would be to prove that innocent people won’t be executed C. #2 Rebuttal: No other democracy uses it, their side, your side with statistics to prove them wrong D. #3 Rebuttal: Death penalty cheapens value of life: their side, your side with statistics to back it up. E. Transition

VI. Conclusion

Rebuttal Throughout

I. Introduction and thesis

III. First Rebuttal -Death penalty is barbaric

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

IV. 2nd rebuttal - death penalty no other democracy

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

V. 3rd rebuttal - killing innocent people

A. Opposition side B. Your side C. Statistics to support your side and prove them wrong D. Explanation of how this will help society E. Transition

VII. Conclusion

Resources for Writing Arguments:

Argument Rough Draft

  1. Develop a argumentative essay rough draft using block or rebuttal throughout
    • Typed MLA formatted Argumentative essay,
    • Four pages of text
    • Plus MLA formatted Works Cited page
    • Must utilize 3-4 sources, two must be database sources
    • Provide copies of the sources utilized in the paper: web pages, database article pages, xeroxed copies of books,
    • Must include in-text citations that identifies the source for the evidence
    • Papers will not be accepted without these minimal requirements. 
  • Illustrate ability to use third person point of view effectively in an argument.
  • Present a thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • Support the thesis using RESEARCH MATERIAL and specific details.
  • Illustrate the ability to argue a position or a solution argument.
  • Support the thesis using research material and specific details.
  • Do not list sources in your Works Cited page that are not cited somewhere in the text of your paper.
  • Failure to cite works quoted in your paper is considered plagiarism resulting in a failing grade on this paper. Be careful.
  • Click the "Submit" button and follow the directions for submitting your work..

Remember when using sources, you have the entire article, but I only have the quote or paraphrase that you have used in your paper.  Be sure and explain the full implications of your quote.  

  • Peer edit your paper 
  • Review your rough draft 
  • Create a final draft with an MLA Works Cited page 
  • Be sure and include an MLA formatted outline




argumentative essay

Why a argumentative essay? The ability to write a convincing essentially non-biased argumentative research essay is critical in college writing.  

You must use three different sources in this paper.

Note: check the list of taboo topics before you begin writing your paper.


Assignment Information

step one
Choose a topic that you can argue either a position or a solution. For example, to argue a position would be to argue for or against something, like the Death Penalty. To argue a solution is to argue how to solve something, like how to solve the air pollution problem in Phoenix.

Example: The Effects of PC on Higher Education


step two
On a blank sheet of paper, write your topic down and at least 5 pros and 5 cons for your topic.  
Or, if you are writing a solution paper, look at at least five different solutions for the problem.  

step three
See how the pros and cons relate. Decide which you want to write about. Do you want to focus on the pros or the cons. Pick the one you feel offers the most possibilities for exploration.  
Or, choose the solution that seems the most logical, the most doable.  

step four
Freewrite. Look at your diagram for ideas  

step five
Transform your chosen topic into a "Guiding Question" and write it down.  

What is the main question that your essay will answer?  

Example:  

What are three main effects of Political Correctness on Higher Education.  

step six
Find at least three sources to help you answer your guiding question. You must use these sources in your work either in a quote, paraphrase and/or summary. 

  1. source guidelines
  2. Use 3-4 sources.
  3. Use database sources and web pages. You can send web pages and articles off of databases to my email address. Be sure and turn in your resources with your final paper. I will not accept any paper without the sources turned in to me.  
  4. Create a Works Cited page from your sources.


step seven
Now that you have gathered your information and collected new information, create an outline of your paper.  

step eight
Answer your "Guiding Question" directly with your thesis statement.  

Why are literary works being banned when their overall theme is positive? Because of over-zealous proponents of Political Correctness, once celebrated literary works like Mark Twain's  Huckleberry Finn, William Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Harper Lee's  To Kill a Mockingbird are being banned despite their important universal themes.  

step nine
Check your outline. Place your thesis at the top of the outline followed by the causes or effects: I. II. III. Under each main point, place two main specific points that will support the general topic sentence and the thesis. Use capital letters for the specific points.  

step ten
Write the rough draft.  

step eleven
Revise the rough draft. 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Lynn McClelland.

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