I’m trying to learn for my Writing class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

One of the best things you can do before actually writing your essay is to begin organizing the materials you have to create some form of plan. This plan can be a detailed outline or it can simply be a topical outline. For examples of outlines, see the following links:

Purdue OWL Sample Outline Handout (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Sample Outline Library Example

When I outline, I normally start with my thesis. What does my essay need to do to move my reader from that thesis to the conclusion of the essay? What sections should be in that essay? By breaking the essay down into smaller sections, it makes the writing seem MUCH more manageable.

If I were writing a paper about microbreweries reinvigorating the beer industry, I know that I need a section about the history of the beer industry, then a section about the rise of microbreweries, and then a section about what these shifts mean for the beer industry in general. Once I’ve decided on the very general large sections of my paper, I start plotting out each in more detail. For instance, in the section on what the shifts mean, I may have a section on the financial implications and another section on the change in attitudes towards beer. In both of these smaller sections, I’ll be sure to think about how these show re-invigoration of the industry (linking the ideas back to my thesis). Similarly, In the section about the history, I may divide that into two “sub-sections”–one about larger beer conglomerations and one about the history of smaller brewers.

As I’m progressing through this planning process, I will think through the research I have. When I think of a source that has a pertinent idea that doesn’t quite fit into what I already have outlined, I consider where it could fit and I add in the idea somewhere.
For instance, if I have a fantastic source about large beer conglomerates making “microbrews,” I have to figure out where that could be added into my essay. Perhaps it goes at the end of the implications section in a paragraph about how the large businesses are picking up on this dynamic and adjusting.

What is nice about this type of planning is that it allows for you to begin writing with a strategy in place, and you don’t start with a blank screen. Instead, you may sit down and know that today’s job is to write a 3 page section on the history of the beer industry and a 2 page section on the financial implications of microbrews.

Take some time with this and start planning your essay. The outline you submit can be formal (with Roman Numerals) or more topical, but I’d like to see you mapping out the sections of the essay.

Then, write at least one of your outline sections, including incorporating appropriate citations and research. Turn in one document with the outline and the writing start.


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