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Thursday, June 9, 2011

How To Write A 10 Page Paper With Less Than 24 Hours Before It's Due (and still get an A)! PART TWO

After a full nights rest, comes the full day of writing the paper.  I can't tell anyone how or what to write, but I can give pointers as to what will make the writing process faster and sound smart.  If you are a versed procrastinator then you probably don't need to hear about it.  :)

First thing is to outline the paper BRIEFLY.

Introduction: (Write your thesis out here.  It might change while you write, but it's the most crucial part of the paper because everything revolves around this one sentence- or two if you're still a beginner.  Be sure to tell the reader: What this paper is going to explain/argue for and WHY they should care.)

Point 1: Map out each point and decide where quotes will go.  Explaining a quote and it's importance can take up a large section of your paper.  Do not forget to pull quotes from the literature itself (your primary source) and if it's poetry try to find something longer than 4 LINES (block quotes...you'll thank me later).

Point 2:

Point 3:

Point 4:  Four points should be sufficient to cover 10 pages.  But, then again, it's up to the writer if they want to go beyond that.

I save all of my outlines and I was going to post a photo of one.  But, they literally make no sense and are full of scribbled ideas, various thesis statements, curse words of frustration, etc.  There is really no "right" or "wrong" way to outline, as long as it helps to organize the flow of your paper.

Now it's time to actually start writing the paper.  I can't really explain how one can write a good paper, nor do I know what your professor wants.  I have multiple professors who are each looking for a certain something in the papers they grade.  Unfortunately, academic papers can only be part "you" because you're really writing it to please the style of the professor.  So, be sure to figure out what it is that they want and ask questions in class when the paper is up for discussion.

Since this is a last minute paper, do NOT- I repeat- do NOT procrastinate further and do things such as surf the internet and get distracted.  Write 5 pages before taking a break!  Here are some tips that will make you sound smarter in your paper:

  • Do not contract words.  Example: Use- "do not" instead of "don't"  "cannot" instead of "can't" "it is" instead of "it's"  and so on.  One of my professors stresses this point to the max (plus it takes up more space to use separate words!)  
  • As mentioned earlier, if working with poetry, try to use one (two might be stretching it) block quotes in the paper.  Be sure to thoroughly explain the quote and do not just leave it hanging.  You'll probably get marked off for it if you do.  
  • Think outside of the box when writing the paper.  If you find a quote from an academic journal that you whole heartedly disagree with, include it in the paper and argue against it.  
  • One of my faults is that sometimes I try to be funny in my papers.  Make sure your professor is okay with this.  Typically, I just come up with a clever paper title and try not to push little jokes in the content of the essay (unless it's word play).  
  • When in doubt, do not use "I", "we", "you" because it might come off as conversational.  Instead, replace them with words like "one" or find other ways to construct the phrase.
  • Once you reach the end of the paper... try to run through it once (I know that 10 pages is long, and I honestly NEVER read back through my papers which is a big mistake) to check for spelling errors.  Be sure to reformat if needed to comply with MLA.  There are many ever changing rules for in text citing, so be sure to brush up or find a website to help you out!
I'm not sure if this "How To" will really help anyone, but it has been therapeutic to put my whole writing strategy out there.  Someday I might stop procrastinating and try to write a paper a week before it's due to see how it feels, and what the results are.  When it comes down to it, I truly believe that I leave my papers until the last minute because if I write them in advance, then they have time to sit and I might not like what I've written, change it, and possibly ruin my potential grade.  Lol.  

Images courtesy of Pinterest.

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