How to Write a Composition Paper


English Composition is one of the common classes required for earning your degree. It can be tough if you are uncomfortable with writing, but there are steps to simplify writing your composition paper.

  • Recognize that you're doing two things. You're forming the content of your thoughts, and then you're presenting them in written format. Your instructor wants you to learn how to do both tasks and then demonstrate that learning through composition.

  • When forming your thoughts, remember that your opinion matters. You may think you have to come up with the most brilliant new insight that the world has ever seen, but that's unnecessary pressure to place on yourself. Formulate your independent opinions without regard for how much you think that someone else could have easily come up with the exact same thoughts. If you do your research, contemplate your evidence, and draw your conclusions using your own mind, they are your opinions and are worthy of your writing about them.

  • When forming your thoughts, focus on making a few good points as opposed to trying to cover every concept of your subject matter from every angle. It's okay to analyze all the concepts that come into your mind about your subject, but pick a subset of them to write about and leave the rest behind. And it's okay if you pick one and then change your mind about it out while writing. Just pick another one in that case.

  • When presenting your thoughts in written format, keep it simple, at least for your early draft. You can include some words that you learned during your research to boost your vocabulary, but you formulated your thoughts in your head with words you already knew. Use those words in your early drafts. Also use sentence structure that you know so that your written words reflect the way you are comfortable speaking.

  • Once you've drafted something using words and structure that you know, add some flair and style. Try some new vocabulary words, especially to overcome the repetition of a word in the same sentence. Also try to mix up your sentence structure, using techniques that your instructor has presented during the semester or that are available in composition books, such as conditional clause, adverbial clauses, gerunds, compound sentences, etc. This is where all the language structure you were forced to learn in your lifetime of schooling now become a tool bag for sprucing up your composition.

  • Use at least one editor. Self-editing is a challenge for the best of writers, and another person can catch errors and recommend improvements that are almost impossible for you as the author to see.

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