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I am not good at writing papers at all. What are some recommendations for me to be more successful and reasearching and constructing a good essay paper?

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I am going back to school after 12 Years. English and writing have never been my strong areas. I want to do more than just pass this class, but also reasearch and construct successful work. If there is any tips, pointers, or advice that can be given. Please, I am all ears. #english #essay #writing #writing-and-editing

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Kim’s Answer

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Neateshia,


Congrats on going back to school - that is a big step to take after twelve years!


The key to writing, especially for us "older students," is to get away from the keyboard! I find that it causes brainfreeze! Find a comfortable place to write, without distractions. This could be a recliner, or a dining table, or even outdoors! Use a real pen and paper!!! Give yourself plenty of time - never procrastinate on writing assignments!


Skipping research papers for now, but, let's say you have to write an essay on any topic of your choice. You decide to write about which dog is your favorite. You have had many dogs throughout your life. The basic essay has an introductory paragraph, which ends with the thesis sentence. "Although I have had seven dogs over the course of my life, Dakota is easily my favorite out of all of them." Now, you need to explain why. That will take up the rest of the essay. You need to show what makes her better than all the others. Not just in one way, but in several ways. That could take three or four paragraphs. Each of those paragraphs starts with a topic sentence, and you then add supporting sentences. For example, "Although all of my dogs showed a willingness to protect me, Dakota did a better job of it than any of the rest. Clyde snarled at a guy who threatened me after we were in a traffic accident, but cowered when the man swung a baseball bat at me. Squawker barked like crazy when people came to the front door, but let them in if they handed him treats. Dakota, on the other hand, guarded my sister-in-law's suspicious-looking boyfriend for three days: she would not let him take a single step unless I told her it was okay!" After two or three more paragraphs like this, you then have a final paragraph where you wrap everything up.


Most schools have writing labs where you can get help - don't hesitate to use them! Also, keep in mind that you are being graded on things like grammar, punctuation, and spelling, not just your ability to create an essay. Once you type it up on the computer, use spelling and grammar checking features in Word.


You can do this!!

Kim



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Elizabeth’s Answer

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I recommend always creating an outline before you start writing. It will help get all of your ideas and content together in an organized manner and help your writing go faster. And practice, practice, practice. You’ll get better the more you work at it.

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Jakob’s Answer

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University papers are more about structure and procedure than anything else. Make sure you understand what's being asked of you, and follow an orderly procedure (my suggested one is below) to write. Don't try to wing it, and don't let yourself lose any of the points you get just for following directions (there are many). Follow any specific directions in the syllabus and assignment exactly. Go to office hours and get help to develop your thesis. Sate your thesis clearly, support it with data you've found, and explain it in a way that your instructor or TA can easily understand.

If you master the process of writing (and it doesn't need to be mine, but you do need one) you'll always earn at least a decent score, and you'll free up a lot of time to develop more interesting ideas, find better sources, and refine your argumentation and writing style.





Jakob recommends the following next steps:

  • Start with your bibliography. Select sources and quotes that seem useful while you're deciding on your thesis and enter the relevant info into a bibliography tool like the one in Word or Bibme. This will save a lot of time later when you need to generate your Works Cited page and in-line/footnote citations. Pick a bibliography tool and master it.
  • Decide on your thesis. It needs to be something you can argue using the information you've collected, and not something so obvious that you don't need to argue for it. If you have trouble coming up with a good thesis, tell your instructor the direction you're leaning and see what they say.
  • Make a point-form outline of your entire paper, one point (and one clear complete sentence) per paragraph.
  • Expand your outline into a multi-point outline for each paragraph. Check that each paragraph contributes to your point and leads into the next one. Note which sources and quotes you'll use in each.
  • Expand these outlines into full paragraphs with the formatting (including citations and typesetting) given in the syllabus for your course. If you've done things in this order you should actually have time to edit for style and add nice finishing touches.
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Tracy’s Answer

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Practice critical thinking skills as far as research goes.


Bookmark the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html It is a great resource as is The McGraw-Hill Writing for College, Writing for Life.


Find your "voice." The key to a good story or persuasion is to use your writing voice with confidence and a little bit of humor! You've got this!

Tracy recommends the following next steps:

  • Bookmark the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
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Jim’s Answer

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Practice. Every writer gets better with practice. Read the papers of others and don't be afraid to emulate a style if you don't have one yourself. Eventually you will develop your own style, but nothing makes for a better writer than simply writing as much as you can. As for research, just do as much as you feel you need to do to back up any points you wish to make, or to support any facts you state in your essay that are not original ideas from you.

Jim recommends the following next steps:

  • Write an essay. Repeat as often as necessary.
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