Sunday, April 12, 2009

Student Tips: How To Start Organizing Essay Monsters

Sometimes when writing an essay, things get out of hand. More than once when dealing with a complicated topic where the thesis requires several other factors be addressed to explain the main argument, I find I end up with a monster. The thesis statement is on page 6, I've accidentally written an essay within the essay, and I'm over the page limit. An epic rewrite must be done, but going over and over all the pages of mixed up points seems to take forever and it gets overwhelmingly confusing. It seems like despite all the work that's been done, the only thing to do is start over from scratch.

In part, that's actually not a bad idea.

The best strategy I've found when dealing with this is to take advantage of the graphics interface and not try to do everything in one file. Open up two new blank documents. Copy and paste paragraphs into one of them in the order that they should be and slowly work your way through. While many paragraphs will need more than a simple reorganizing and suturing together, this is a great way to get back on track and not get lost in a wall of ramble. Once you have a structure go back through and interweave parts that had filled up their own paragraphs so that you get the important points in there without getting off track.

Use the other document as a graveyard. I find I lose a lot of time trying not to kill darlings, so if you find some, don't. Put them aside at the ready, and if they find their way back in, great! If not, it doesn't matter, because that means they weren't needed and you're past that part of the essay. If they are little pearls of wisdom, save the document and keep them. Maybe they will find their way into something else in the future.

3 Comments:

Blogger Cory Capron said...

NOTE: there will be a part 2 to this... probably after finals though. Sorry.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Nadine Wright said...

Your strategy is really helpful especially for those students who are in a rush to submit their essay on time. Because they can't concentrate knowing that the deadline is fast approaching.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Cartoon HD Can’t Play Video said...

Incredible post.

3:21 PM  

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