Final Touches!

In these final days of the writing process, you should focus your attention on the ways you can strengthen your thesis in the time you have. You might also want to sign up for a conference with me on Wednesday.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Reread your essay so many times, and make it more truly your own.

Check yourself: Tell the truth!

  • Ask: What new insight do you want your reader to get from your essay? Write that insight in a sentence, as you would tell it to a friend. Then reread your essay. Have you said this very clearly and illustrated it throughout the essay? How could you say it more clearly, or more thoroughly?
  • Look for places in your essay where you’re “beating around the bush,” or stating generalizations that you don’t really need to state, because your reader knows them already. Cut those!
  • As you reread your essay, look for places where your voice sounds false to you. Can you rewrite those sentences to express your thinking in a way that feels more authentic, capturing a thought process that is unique to you?

Show, don’t tell: Show your reader how you got to the truth from your reading of the texts.

  • Does every paragraph begin with a topic sentence that asserts an analytical claim that supports your thesis? If not, make it so!
  • Are all of your analytical claims supported by textual evidence? If not, make it so!
  • Fill in any holes in your research.

Thursday-Friday: Make it pretty, make it strong. 

Return to your introduction. See if you can:

  • Get to your motive right in the first few sentences, showing your reader what is surprising and new and fresh about your argument. What are we here to learn?
  • Capture the sound of your own voice on the page. Think of your reader as a real person who wants to meet you and hear what you think. Talk to us, directly, and bring us into the ballroom you’ve set up in your thesis. Show us what you’ve learned.

Check your use of sources throughout.For every piece of evidence you cite, make sure that you:

  • Introduce the quotation or paraphrase with a signal phrase that identifies the scholar by their field of expertise.
  • Lead your reader out of the quotation or paraphrase by answering the question: How do you interpret this piece of evidence, and how do you want your reader to understand it in the context of your argument.
  • Use MLA format correctly throughout.

Fine tune your conclusion to leave your reader with a strong sense of your thinking and your voice.

  • With a good conclusion, you can bring your reader to a place in the end of your essay that is different from where you began. To get there, ask: What have you learned, and where does this process of inquiry leave you now?
  • You could use your conclusion to wrap up the questions you’ve asked and pass them on to the next scholar who will enter the ballroom after you. How would you like that future scholar to pick up where you leave off?)
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