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How to Build Your Paper not to go off the Topic

Oct 09, 2013 - Posted to  Writing in General
As children acquire knowledge and progress through school, tests and assignments tend to get evermore challenging. They are also often fewer of them. By the time they get to high school, it is no longer the teacher's job to continually check up on her pupils. Students of that age are expected to be more independent, which is why they are assigned larger projects they must manage on their own. This means they must make schedules and stick to them if they hope to get their work in on time.
When it comes to assignments that require proper time management, the standard essay is at the top of the list. Far too many students make the mistake of procrastinating and trying to write long papers at the eleventh hour. More often than not, they receive poor grades for putting off what they should have done days, even weeks earlier. With that said, even an early start is no guarantee of success.

What's the problem?

An essay is not a mathematical equation, it is not an experiment. Yes, there are certain rules that must be observed, but students are also encouraged to be creative. As a result, many of them get sidetracked and stray off topic. They digress and include information that does not help them advance their argument or prove their point. This problem is so common that teachers actively encourage students to use organizational tools like index cards so they do not lose their way. There are also steps they can take before they put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboards to ensure that they remain focused at all times. Here are a handful of simple, helpful essay writing tips.

Tip 1: Always write an outline

It might seem elementary, but an outline is an important first step in any type of essay writing. It will serve as your guide as you move from section to section, building your argument by offering evidence that supports your main point. This process is much easier and more orderly if you have a basic guide. Your outline can be as simple or as detailed as you please. But at the very least, it should contain all of the main sections of your paper, from the introduction to the body paragraphs to the conclusion.

Tip 2: Know your topic

It goes almost without saying that the better you know your topic, the less likely you'll be to deviate from it. After all, when you know what you're talking about, you often have a lot of opinions on that subject. But when you don't, you're far more likely to drift, meander, ramble, and even to make things up. This happens quite often in essays when students have not done the requisite reading or research. So before you start writing, do yourself a favor and learn as much as you possibly can about your topic.

Tip 3: Make sure that you have enough information before you start

Another common reason for divagation in essay writing is that there may not be enough available sources relating to your topic to complete a paper without filler. This is frequently the case on longer research reports that focus on very specific topics on which there is not an established body of research. The writer is then forced to expatiate on little evidence and may stray from his topic before he reaches the conclusion. Therefore, it is always best to make certain you have enough information before you write a single word. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can stretch things out or overwrite certain sections without losing focus.

Tip 4: Minimize distractions

Once again, this tip should go almost without saying. But you'd be surprised how many high school, even college students ignore it. They work on important papers while watching television, listening to music, and of course their cell phone are almost always on. As you might expect, this often results in a choppy, disjointed, unfocused report that reads like it was written by an inattentive author. So as obvious as it might be, make sure you turn off every device that may distract you while you're writing.

Tip 5: Write at the right time of the day

As any author could tell you, writing takes a lot out of you. It's not an activity you should engage in when tired or frustrated. Depending on your sleeping habits and circadian rhythm, it is often best to write when you are energetic and alert. For some folks, this may be in the early morning hours, and for others it might be in the dead of night. But whatever your particular routine, try not to stray from it, or your writing may suffer.

Tip 6: Understand the structure

Of all the tips we have shared with you today, none is more important than this one. Although it may vary a bit, the standard essay has a simple structure any student can remember. There is an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Let us take a moment to discuss them individually.
Introduction: Begin by briefly discussing your topic and end with a thesis statement that lets your readers know what your paper will be about.
Body paragraphs: Should open with topic sentences that support your main idea or thesis sentence and end with a summary or transition sentence.
Conclusion: Really nothing more than a short recap or summary of what you've written in your body paragraphs. You should not introduce any new information in this section.

Tip 7: Use the structure

The simplest and most effective way to write an essay is to develop one idea that supports your thesis statement each paragraph. If you can follow that template, your paper should be focused and compelling. It is only when writers skip steps and forget to include important components like topic sentences that they struggle with this basic assignment.
By Kevin Demlon. Kevin is a reliable writer. His academic works and helpful articles can be used by any student of any level.
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