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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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
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.
Sign up and we’ll send you ebook of 1254 samples like this for free!
- 80+ essay types
- 1000+ essay samples
- Pro writing tips
Creating an Action Plan for Academic Essay Writing
Writing an academic essay is much easier when you create an action plan that involves careful planning and preparation. The first thing is to ensure you understand the assignment and what is expected of you. Next, you must choose a topic if a specific one is not assigned. After that, you can work through the following process to develop a plan that guides you through completing an essay assignment.
- Map out your initial thoughts
- Research the topic
- Outline your essay
- Write the rough draft
- Proofread, edit and revise rough draft
- Finalize and write final draft
Develop an action plan for your academic essay by creating a goal date for each step in the process.
Map out your initial thoughts
The next step in creating the plan for an academic essay is putting your initial thoughts to paper, or mapping them out to establish what you already know. Grab a piece of paper, and write down everything that comes to mind on the topic. Do not attempt to edit your thoughts; write everything that comes to mind. Doing this allows you to establish the following:
- What you know about the topic
- Aspects of the topic that need more development
- Whether you need to do additional research
Research the topic
If your topic requires research, start by deciding what types of sources you need. Take notes as you go through sources, and record bibliographic information to avoid plagiarism. You are likely to end up with more notes than you eventually end up using in your paper, but you want to avoid not taking enough notes and finding yourself without enough information.
Outline your academic essay
Between writing down your initial thoughts and conducting research (if necessary), you are prepared to create an outline for an academic essay. The level of details you put into the outline is subjective; the important components of the outline include the following:
- Focus of each paragraph by creating one section of the outline for each
- Sources (if any) you intend to use
- Analysis or interpretation as it is necessary
Essentially, the outline serves as a map as you write the rough draft of your academic essay.