Some writers take their working thesis and dive into the writing. Others like to plan it out, deciding what to include in each paragraph before writing a sentence. The difference seems to depend as much on the writer's personality as on the project. The end goal of either approach, however, is the same: to develop a clearer sense of how the thesis will be developed in the body of the essay. Here are two suggestions for accomplishing this goal:
Write a discovery draft. If you like to dive into the writing, you might simply begin writing a draft in support of your working thesis. Since your goal is to discover your main points and how you can organize them, you should write quickly, not worrying about your introduction, about transitions, clear paragraph structure, grammar, and so on. Unlike freewriting, you can certainly take time to think about your ideas, but don't spend time on aspects of the writing that don't help you accomplish your goal.
Once you've exhausted your ideas, you can study your draft for the main ideas and create a separate outline to decide how you would organize them. Discovery drafts might look like a more polished draft, especially if you typed it on the computer, but they are usually intellectually vague and unorganized. Writing the draft can clarify your thinking and give you more information to work with, but you should still outline your main points to ensure your information will be accessible to readers.
Outline your main points. Main points are those key insights that readers need to learn in order to accept the truth of your thesis. Here are three suggestions for deciding how to organize your main points:
Ask "What do readers need to know?" Sometimes you can anticipate what readers will need to accept before accepting the next point, and so on. For example, consider the thesis "Hybrid cars offer average consumers an opportunity to reduce smog." If we wanted to make this point, readers might first need to accept that...
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