Drafting Process

Developing an Argument

  • Developing a Central Claim (Duke): This Writing Studio handout shows you how to shape humble beginnings into a strong central claim.
  • Argument Essay (Duke): The Argument Essay will likely be the most common writing assignment in your college career. This handout offers strategies for developing a persuasive argument.
  • Roadmaps (Duke): This handout discusses tips for providing clear signals and signposts to readers as you guide them through your argument.
  • Research Questions (Duke): Starting a research paper? This handout offers tips on formulating good research questions in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

Paragraphs and Transitions

  • The Paragraph (Purdue): This site offers advice on structuring paragraphs to maximize their efficacy, focusing on unity, coherence, topic sentences, and paragraph development.
  • Paragraphing: The MEAL Plan (Duke): One way to envision a body paragraph is as a "complete MEAL," with the components being the paragraph's Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, and Link back to the larger claim.
  • The MEAL Plan with Pictures (Duke): Extending the MEAL metaphor for paragraphing, this handout provides a process for building a better paragraph.
  • Introductions (UNC): Your first and best opportunity to captivate readers, introductions are sometimes very difficult to write. This site offers multiple suggestions for drafting successful introductions, including the option of writing your introduction last.
  • Closing Paragraphs (Duke): Closing paragraphs are closely connected with introductions and just as difficult to write. This Writing Studio handout provides some suggestions for how to leave your readers satisfied.
  • Topic Sentences (Duke): Effective topic sentences express a paragraph's main idea and help the reader understand a paragraph's purpose.  Use this handout to craft stronger topic sentences and guide your reader through your paper's major points.
  • Writing Effective Transitions (UNC): Create smooth connections between sentences, paragraphs, and sections of your paper.
  • Going Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay (Cal Poly Pomona): You spent all that time in high school learning to write five-paragraph essays; why would you stop now? This website explains the limitations of this format.
  • Creating Effective Titles (Minnesota): Your title is the first thing most readers will see, so it's your first chance to make an impression and grab your reader's attention. This guide offers a process for developing effective titles.

Style Concerns

You don't need to wait until you revise to start thinking about style. Considering whether to use "I" or "we" or to shun first-person pronouns altogether? Trying to avoid gendered language? Hoping to write more concisely? Review "Revising for Style" under the Revising Process.