When writing a piece of academic prose, drafting, rewriting and editing are very important. You should not expect to write your essay in a single sitting. Good writing is by necessity a revisionary process. This means you need to leave yourself ample time for research and composition. The first step is to plan your essay by sketching an initial draft. This should be done in coordination with your preliminary research. At this point, you want to form an overall idea of the direction your argument will take. This will help refine your research criteria. Having more focused research criteria will enable you to fill in the required details in your essay plan. In the early draft stages, nothing is set in stone. This allows for great freedom in changing and adapting the perspective and thus the contents of your essay. Such changes will be guided by your research findings. If you feel your essay draft has begun on a false foot, do not be afraid to start over from scratch.
Your rough draft may be somewhat broad and unfocused. This is fine. The second draft is the place to tighten your argument and sharpen your focus. Here, you want to cut out digressions, redundancy, and any other unnecessary material. Be ruthless in this exercise. Relevance is top priority. Anything that is not strictly to the point is probably wasting words (and potential grade points) and should therefore be cut. Following this, you want to refine and elaborate upon the key points which are left over. This is where backing up your work with appropriate sources will play a crucial role. The more background reading you do, the more likely you will be to locate information that bolsters your case. Be selective with your citations. Again, relevance is your guiding light.
After a few different drafts, your essay should be in good shape. Now is the time to move on to the editing process. Here you want to polish the work’s finer points, perfecting the rhythm and clarifying the sense of your argument. You also want to identify mistakes. No matter how experienced a writer you are, there are common essay-writing pitfalls to which everyone is subject. Next, work on perfecting the form of the essay: the means by which you articulate your argument. Lucid prose is a crafted art. While a first-rate essay is dependent on substance, the style of the work can also contribute to the overall grade. Read your essay aloud. See how it flows. This will help you get a feel for the lucidity of the prose; it will also make spelling and grammatical errors more conspicuous. Finally, you must proofread. Proofreading is indispensable; it enables you to pick up on and amend mistakes. You do not want to miss easy marks simply through carelessness. It may also be a good idea to have somebody else read your essay and give you feedback. This way you can see how clearly your argument is coming across to another reader.
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