Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Write a Paper Part I

First of all, for those of you who don't know me, I'm a writer. I like writing. I think it's fun :D And that includes writing things like research papers, essays for English class, and all forms of poetry. And I am aware that most of the literate world thinks I'm nuts. I'm okay with that.

But I think two of the main problems with people who hate this kind of thing are that 1. they pick (or are assigned) topics in which they have no interest; and 2. they just don't know how to do it.

If you are assigned a particular topic you hate, well, there's not much you can do there. Though you can try to focus the topic on an aspect of it that interests you. Writing a paper is going to be a lot less painful if you are actually interested in the subject matter.

Do you have to write a paper on a historical figure? Find one that did something you think is cool. And believe me, most of those boring, old farts your teacher is making you learn about did at least one cool thing in their life...or you wouldn't be learning about them.

Spend a few minutes with Google and find something, anything, that interests you about the topic at hand and write about that. Or better yet, if you are allowed to pick your own topic, pick something you love or always wanted to know more about. Now writing the paper will only be mildly uncomfortable instead of pure torture ;-D

Problem 2 - not knowing how to do it....well, we'll fix that problem here. I have a fail-proof 6 week program that will get your paper written neatly, efficiently, and mostly painlessly. And if you were given more than 6 weeks to write your assignment - well then, you'll be done early :)

This is WEEK ONE. For this week, your one and only assignment is to pick a topic. That's it. Simple huh? Just pick your topic. Now don't get lazy on me, though. Make sure that topic is narrowed down enough you can write a paper on it. If you want to write about cats, narrow it a bit. What kind of cats? What about cats specifically? Do you want to write about house cats? Big, wild cats? How cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt? Get that topic narrowed.

While you're at it, write out your thesis statement. No, this is not an extra's part of picking your topic. It's the point of your paper, the reason you are writing, the point you want to get across, the...well, you get my point :)

So! Pick topic - Write thesis statement. You have a whole week. I can't make it any easier :)

(If you want to get ambitious, you could start picking out likely looking'll need those next week. But no worries if you don't feel like it. Just stick to the topic!) :D


Research or Term Paper: A research or term paper is a paper in which you present information on a specific topic backed up by other sources. It is similar to an essay. It follows the same steps and has the same basic purpose, but is generally longer and more in depth than an essay. Depending on your specific paper requirements, your paper could be simple presentation of facts, or a complex, in-depth analysis of your chosen subject.

Just as with essays, there can be many different types of research papers. Your paper could be analyzing a particular subject, (exploring the various aspects of the world of peanut butter), arguing your point of view on a topic, (proving why peanut butter is better than jelly), or comparing and contrasting two ideas or subjects, (discussing the similarities and differences between chunky and smooth peanut butter). A research paper is simply an expanded form of one of these essays.

Thesis Statement: According to = an explanation of the topic or purpose of a research paper.

In other words, it is the reason you are writing the paper, the focus of your paper, a firm declaration of what your paper will discuss. Does your paper prove that Robert Pattinson is the all-time best film vampire? Then your thesis statement would go something like this:

Robert Pattinson's portrayal of a vampire in the Twilight movie series is the best ever.

Is your paper proving why chunky peanut butter is better than creamy? You could say, "This paper will prove that chunky peanut butter is better than creamy peanut butter."

It doesn't have to be fancy. Just make it to the point so that anyone who picks up your paper can read that statement and immediately know what your paper is about.