Secrets to Writing Great Papers
Publication Year: 2003
Secrets to Writing Great Papers illustrates how to work with ideas—develop them, hone them, and transform them into words. It provides techniques and exercises for brainstorming, choosing the right approach, working with an unknown or boring assigned topic, overcoming writer’s block, and selecting the best point of view.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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If you're like most students, you've had at least eight courses by now in how to write papers--and you still freeze up at some point between beginning and end in almost every paper you're assigned. You know that it's dumb to have credits subtracted for being hasty or late, yet you still deliberately...
STEP 1. Decide on Size
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It stands to reason that a paragraph on cars has less to say about cars than a paper on the subject, and that neither one is as complete as a book on cars. Yet few teachers stop to make the point that a brief paper on cars has to be written differently from a long paper. In order to write a paper that the grader considers outstanding (or even adequate), the first....
STEP 2. Tackle the Topic
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The fate of a paper is very often decided by its choice of topic. A run-of-the-mill topic earns run-of-the-mill grades, while a sexy topic makes the grader sit up and take notice. A topic that the grader likes seems more important, even if it's not, than one that the grader doesn't like. Biting off too big a topic can destroy a short paper by making it seem superficial...
STEP 3. Adopt an Approach
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We said before that the point of writing papers is to express ideas, but until now we've been talking about topics, not ideas. You can't have any ideas until you know what to have them about. But in order to write a paper, you've got to know how you're going to approach the topic. The topic combined with the way you approach it is your paper's main...
STEP 4. Test the Title
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The three things worth the most points in any paper's grade are (I) having a clear theme (another word for main idea), (2) sticking to it, and (3) saying enough about it. For keeping your theme manageable and firmly at the forefront of your mind, nothing works as well as a good working title....
STEP 5. Pick a Point of View
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We've shown that the persuasive paper has an obvious point of view. Its very format is an argument for one side or the other in an issue in which neither side has yet been proven wrong. But actually, it's impossible to write any paper without a point of view--whether you know you have...
STEP 6. Chart Your Course
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You've already spent fifteen minutes or more on your paper, and all you have is one idea. Now we're going to ask you to spend some more time working up an outline before you start writing. You're probably wondering how all this will help you find more ideas. Unless you're a natural-born talent (in which case you don't need us), hang in there....
STEP 7. Formulate Your First Words
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For a short paper, keep your introduction short. For a long term paper or a thesis, your introduction can run several paragraphs in length because you may have to use several facts and some examples in defending your reason for choosing the topic. For instance, Time magazine spent...
STEP 8. Build the Body
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Building the body of a paper is just like building the body of a car. You can do it as painlessly as if you were a robot standing on an assembly line--and as quickly as your fingers can write or type--once you've got a careful, complete outline. It all boils down to filling in the blanks. That's...
STEP 9. Conclude Concisely
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Remember that everything you have to say--all your conclusions about the topic and your facts that prove them--belong in the body of the paper. The ending merely wraps up the theme and ties it in a bow....
STEP 10. Check for Quality Control
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Before any car or toaster is permitted to leave the factory, it's thoroughly checked. If it performs poorly or looks shabby, it's sent back to be fixed. The more a manufacturer hopes to get customers to pay for the product, the more careful the quality-control inspection has to be....
APPENDIX. Edited First Draft of Paper
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Publication Year: 2003