How Structure Emerges
The difference between the structure of an essay and the process of writing that essay is illustrated in this interview with student Jessica Wills. You can review a copy of her essay and see how its structure emerged from an outline and early draft in the Sample Process in Resources.
Click play to see how Jessica approaches writing and structuring her papers.
How Essay Structure Emerges
Jessica Wills, 4th Year Student, Sociology, and Law and Society
The professor asked the students to choose one of two quotes to write an analytical paper on. The paper had to be between 8 to 10 pages and we were to choose one quote and discuss whether or not we agreed or disagreed with the statement that was being made.
What I did to initially better understand the topic was I got a blank sheet of paper and I wrote down Foucault’s central idea which was the “Power/Knowledge Nexus.” And I wrote that down in a bubble on a blank sheet of paper. I just started brainstorming and writing down different ideas and thoughts that I had originally had about the topic. And I sort of just drew in information from that course that I was taking and another course I was taking at the same time.
From all the books and journal articles that I read, I compiled them all into a word document. And in that word document, I had the quote or the content that I was interested in including in my paper, as well as the corresponding bibliographic information that went along with that particular quote.
After I had collected all of my research, I printed it off and I began highlighting. I like using a lot of different colours to sort of arrange my thoughts. So for each argument that I wanted to make in the paper, I had a specific colour that went along with it.
I created an outline and this was to structure my arguments and my thoughts and to make a logical paper. I started off with recording different things of what I wanted to include in my introductory paragraph, as well as my body paragraphs and my conclusion.
So I first came up with my thesis statement by recording on a blank sheet of paper a few sentences that I thought captured what I was trying to say in my essay.
For this particular essay, I wrote about eight drafts. And during my drafting process, what I would typically do is read my essay out loud and from there I would see whether or not I should be moving around different body paragraphs, whether or not I should be changing some words that I was using to say what I want to say more explicitly. I would also check for spelling and for grammar.
If students start right away and start talking to their professors, asking them questions, that would probably be the first thing I think they should do.