How to write the first draft of a longer,
more complicated paper



The advice above holds true for basically any kind of paper. But you will, at some point, have to write a long, complex paper that incorporates many elements and develops more than one central idea. You're quite right thinking that simply sitting down and writing after thinking about it, brainstorming etc. and making a plan might not work. Don't be frightened! The answer is to conceptualize your paper a little differently. Here are two ways to do just that:

1. Write the paper in parts. Before you can do that, however, you have to make a strong plan. (See Structure and planning.) Once you have your plan, focus on each individual paragraph or section of related paragraphs. Don't attempt to write the whole essay at once, instead treat each paragraph as a mini essay. Look at your notes, think about the goal of that particular paragraph and what you want to accomplish then go for it!!! Try and write the whole paragraph in one sitting. Then, go back to your plan and your notes and work out what you want to do for the next paragraph or next set of related paragraphs, then go through the process again for each of them. When you have finished all of the paragraphs, go back and write the introduction. Then, read through all of the paragraphs (don't change anything yet!!!) and write your conclusion. Yes, your paper may be disjointed after the first draft, but that's O.K.! In the editing stage you can work on transitions and on making the paper feel whole and connected. (See Editing and rewriting.)

2. Think of how your long, complex paper would look if it was a smaller assignment, say a five page paper. Think of what that would look like and how it would read. What would the main parts of that be? Compare that idea to the plan that you have already created. Each part of the smaller paper will, of course, be expanded in the longer assignment. But by thinking of it in this way, you can then work on each part with an idea of what you're trying to accomplish with each individual section, but you will also have a good idea of how all the parts will fit together to form the whole essay.