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Writing Tips from one Writer to Another…

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Even if you’re not a self-proclaimed writer, you probably have to do a good amount of writing for your online courses. For some people this can be quite enjoyable. Putting your thoughts on the page, and expressing your opinions on a topic and sharing it with a non-verbal audience can be very freeing but scary. Luckily for those just starting to venture into their own form of writing there are classes you can take to prepare you for writing research papers, creative writing, essay writing, and even as far as a technical writing form.

First things first, what style are you using? Two of the more widely used forms of writing styles are MLA and APA. MLA is the Modern Language Association style, which is typically used in the liberal arts and humanities studies and contexts. APA is the American Psychology Association’s style, used within the social sciences like psychology, sociology, and education. Make sure to find out from your instructor which they prefer you use before you start on paper’s for that class. It will help you decide which direction to go first in terms of framing the paper; especially a paper you have to conduct research for. Gathering your train of thoughts for what you’re about to write is your next step. Try using the essay method for formulating thoughts for the page.

In school they teach us a traditional 5 paragraph model to follow when creating an essay. The structure of that style is what you want to take with you. But while looking at the structure, don’t just hold this to an essay, you can use what you see and expand it to a paper.

  • Paragraph 1: Introductory thought, last sentence should be your thesis
  • Paragraph 2: Narrative, guide the reader here through the topic
  • Paragraph 3: Affirmation of argument; backing up your point
  • Paragraph 4: Negation; the disparaging evidence against your claim
  • Paragraph 5: Summation of Thought, Conclusion

This formula is great for mind mapping your ideas, and creating a sense of organization in the piece you’re writing. Think of the 5 paragraph essay format as the cornerstone for how you develop ideas for your papers, discussion posts, or even blog entries. It may not be the most creative way of getting out what you’re thinking about the topic at hand, but with time and practice you won’t need a guide to get you from the beginning of your paper to the end.

For more helpful writing tips in your future and current studies, share your thoughts on the writing process, or send in suggestions and questions for what you want to learn more of at our new discussion forums.

– By J. Mason

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