Unit four


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What is drafting?

In the last unit we talked about essay plans, which are usually in note or point form. A draft is a more complete version of your essay written in paragraph form. Some people think that a piece of writing is never finished, so they talk about first draft, second draft and so on. The piece of work you finally submit is sometimes called a final draft.

Drafting is a kind of practice exercise for your final draft. What you can hope to produce in a draft is a rough version of how your final essay will look. If you have made an outline already, you can build up your draft by expanding the points in your outline into paragraphs.

It is most unlikely that your first attempt will be satisfactory, and so you should plan to re-write the draft at least once. In fact, there is not much point in writing a draft unless you are prepared to make changes. The process of making changes to a draft is called re-drafting.

When you have written a draft, you can print it out and re-read it. You can also pass it to a fellow student or a teacher for comment. If you want somebody else to read and comment on your draft essay, it is important that it should look like an essay and not like a set of notes. It is much easier to give constructive feedback on writing in paragraph form than on notes.

What is re-drafting?

Redrafting is the process of producing a new draft from a previous draft. It involves re-reading your draft and thinking about how you want to change it, receiving comments from others and deciding what you are going to do with them, and then making changes to your existing draft to produce a new one.

It is a good idea to print-out at least one draft of your essay and re-read it carefully. However, the process of re-drafting is complex and very personal. The next five units of the Turbocharger all deal with aspects of re-drafting.

This unit deals with changes to the content and organization of a draft. It shows you how your computer can help you with this difficult task.

Unit 5 introduces you to some useful computer tools for exchanging drafts and comments on drafts and Unit 6 shows you how to use Microsoft Word to give and receive detailed feedback on your writing. Unit 7 shows you how to use Microsoft Word to format your essay so that it looks like an essay (editing) and Unit 8 introduces you to some tools in Microsoft Word that will help you fine tune the language of your essay (proofing).

Why should I draft and re-draft?

The simple answer to this question is that drafting and re-drafting will help you to write a better essay.

  • A university essay is a complicated piece of work. You need to draw upon a variety of sources and integrate them with your own ideas. This takes time and drafting and redrafting will help you to organize your materials and ideas into a coherent essay.
  • Drafting can help you be more relaxed about your writing because you know that the early drafts will not be assessed. For example, some students decide not to pay too much attention to their grammar on a first draft and find that this helps them to write more freely.
  • Re-reading your own work helps you to see your ideas in new ways. If you write a draft and then re-read it, you will almost always find ways of improving it.
  • Writing a draft gives you an opportunity to let others read what you are writing. This can also help you to find ways of improving your work.
  • Drafting and re-drafting helps you to think about your use of language. It is an excellent way of improving your writing skills.

How do I re-draft?

The problem of drafting and re-drafting is deciding what kinds of things to attend to when re-reading a draft. Many students are reluctant to make major changes to their drafts and tend to focus only on things like grammar and spelling. The solution to this problem is to attend to the larger things first and leave the smaller things until later.

This unit of the Turbocharger focuses on changes to the content and organization of your essay and suggests some ways that your computer can help you with difficult task.

How can my computer help me with drafting and re-drafting?

Your computer is a great tool for drafting and re-drafting. You can move things around, change things, or add or delete things at any stage. It also gives you the advantage of keeping different versions of your work without having to organize (or use up) lots of pieces of paper. The most important tools for large-scale re-drafting in Microsoft Word are Outline Mode, Document Map and Cut and Paste. You will learn more about these in this unit.

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