Shmoop Writing Guide

This 12 step program (no, not that kind of program) will help you write a solid first draft for your essay papers in English literature.

(Step 1) Read the book (no surprise, there). Read Shmoop to see many sides of the argument and start developing your point of view. Take notes on Shmoop with your Stickies and Clippings.

(Step 2) Prepare to find your writing groove. Start with some brainstorming exercises. Sometimes it helps to draw out your ideas. Oh, and there's a really easy step to complete here. Give your project a name. You can retrieve it later in My Shmoop.

(Step 3) Narrow down your focus (you can choose one Theme or many). We'll provide Food for Thought based on the Theme(s) you choose.

(Step 4) Hatch your Fuzzy Idea (This is an ice-breaker to get you going, so it's okay if the idea is half-baked for now).

  • Your Fuzzy Idea is the general opinion, idea, or argument you want to write about.
  • You will transform this Fuzzy Idea into an actual Thesis Statement in Step 5.

(Step 5) Next, come up with the Reasons to Believe in your fuzzy question. These are your answers to the jackpot question - why should the reader believe your Fuzzy Idea? In traditional essays, each Reason will become the main point of your middle 3 paragraphs.

(Step 6) Prove it. How do you back up each of your Reasons with Proof Points? This is the time to bring out your hard evidence: quotes, data, and notes you took in class.

(Step 7) Found your happy writing place? It's time to put more meat on the bones. Expand your outline for your middle 3 paragraphs into a full-fledged paragraphs with complete sentences.

(Step 8) Rewrite your Fuzzy Idea as a Thesis Statement.

(Step 9) Lure in your reader with a strong Introductory Paragraph. We offer a number of tips to help you start off your paper with a bang.

(Step 10) The end is near! Wrap up your paper with a Conclusion Paragraph. There's no one right way to do this, so we offer a number of suggestions.

(Step 11) Take a step back. Let out a deep breath. Revise your paragraphs. Re-writing is the key to great writing. We'll help you smooth out the wrinkles in your essay.

(Step 12) You have a first draft. Virtual high-five! We'll save your draft in My Shmoop, but you can also download or share it, as you like. (under now what? remove the Shmoop history link)

Now What?