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Writing Your Paper

Prewriting Tutorial

Prewriting lays the foundation for effective writing. Whether you’re working on an academic paper, a creative essay, or any other type of writing, prewriting helps you generate topic ideas and organize your thoughts.

Visit Academic Writer for a tutorial on the steps to take for rewriting or continuing for information on understanding the assignment and choosing a topic.

Understanding the Assignment

Before you start, ensure you understand the prompt or the task. Know the requirements, the audience, the purpose of the writing, and the format expected. 

Your purpose for writing is simply what you are trying to accomplish. You may be trying to accomplish several different things in your writing. Choose the one that best suits the paper you’re working on now:

  • Writing to Reflect means exploring personal ideas to make sense of your experiences. Examples include diaries, journals and autobiographical memoirs. You’re trying to communicate your emotions and reactions to others.
  • Writing to Inform means you are communicating factual details about particular topics. Examples include newspaper articles, reference books, textbooks, instruction manuals, and informative websites such as government or non-profit sites. You’re providing definitions, explaining concepts or processes and helping readers understand ideas and see relationships.
  • Writing to Persuade means trying to convince your readers to accept your position on a particular topic. Examples include research papers, editorials, advertisements and some business communications.
  • Writing to Evaluate means you are assessing the validity, accuracy or quality of information to assess the relative merits of something. Examples include reports, critiques and book reviews.

Determine Your Purpose

Determining the purpose of your paper before you start writing is fundamental to guiding your research, structuring your argument, and presenting your ideas coherently. It's about understanding what you want your readers to get from your work. Choose the one that best suits the paper you’re working on now:

  • Writing to Reflect means exploring personal ideas to make sense of your experiences. Examples include diaries, journals, and autobiographical memoirs. You’re trying to communicate your emotions and reactions to others.
  • Writing to Inform means you are communicating factual details about particular topics. Examples include newspaper articles, reference books, textbooks, instruction manuals, and informative websites such as government or non-profit sites. You provide definitions, explain concepts or processes, and help readers understand ideas and relationships.
  • Writing to Persuade means convincing readers to accept your position on a particular topic. Examples include research papers, editorials, advertisements, and some business communications.
  • Writing to Evaluate means assessing the validity, accuracy, or quality of information to assess the relative merits of something. Examples include reports, critiques, and book reviews.

Once you have determined what the purpose of your paper is, the writing process will be a lot smoother because you will have clearer direction.