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Drafting

Drafting is an essential part of the writing process and can often be overlooked. In this article, we'll look at what drafting is and the skills required to draft a written piece of work.

You might be thinking, "isn't a draft just an unfinished piece of work?" and, to a degree, you'd be right. However, there's a lot more to drafting than simply not being finished.

So, without further ado, let's get going.

Drafting, paper and notebook, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Drafting is a vital component of the writing process.

Drafting Definition

When exploring any topic, it helps to get a handle on a definition of that topic. With that in mind, let's take a look at the definition of drafting.

Drafting can be a noun and a verb.

Drafting as a verb means to prepare an initial copy of a document. (e.g., "I'm drafting an email to my tutor to ask for a deadline extension.”)

Drafting as a noun refers to the process of preparing an initial copy of a document. (e.g., "The drafting of college admissions essays can be a daunting process.")

Let's continue with our exploration into drafting.

Drafting Writing

Now that we've got that handy definition in our pockets, we can delve into why drafting writing is so important. If drafting is not a step in the writing process that you've considered before, it will be after you finish this section.

Why is Drafting Important?

There are many reasons why drafting is so important:

  • Firstly, drafting is the process of putting words down on the page and creating the first version of your work. Getting that first draft done and dusted can help to alleviate anxiety around staring down the blank page, and there's no pressure with a first draft, as the idea is that you will draft several more times.

  • Drafting allows students to explore their ideas more deeply, as returning to their work several times might enable them to identify areas where their arguments need further evidence. Students might find that during the drafting stage, they undertake further research into their topic, which can improve and extend their knowledge.

  • Drafting allows students to clarify any points that need elaboration and can help organize ideas into a structure that makes logical sense. If a student reads through a draft of their work and feels like it doesn't flow well or that certain bits don't make sense, drafting gives them the time to rectify these issues.

This is by no means an extensive list of why drafting writing is important, but it should give you an idea of why we should care more about it.

Rules for Drafting

While there are no strict "rules" as such, there are some tips and steps that can help your drafting process to be smoother.

One of the key things to remember, which we touched on earlier in this explanation, is that drafting is about getting words onto the paper. In that respect, the first rule of drafting is to get writing!

Drafting, road sign saying start, StudySmarterFig. 2 - The first rule of drafting is just to start!

Outline Your Topic

As you're jotting down ideas for your writing, start thinking about your core topic. What information do you want to share with your audience? Start thinking about the who, what, when, why, and where of your topic.

Some key considerations during this outlining phase include finding key theorists and noting down their theories and case studies in the context of your topic. If there are any advances in the topic that is relevant to your discussion, this is the point where you should make some notes about them. It's also worth noting if there's any information that has been difficult to find or any gaps in the literature surrounding your topic

This step of outlining should enable you to summarize the content of your writing before you've written it. Think of this step as a way to get all aspects of your idea or topic onto the page. Don't think too much about writing in perfect sentences with perfect grammar at this point; the key thing is to get your ideas out so you can start formulating a structure for your writing.

GASP

Before going into more detail with planning your piece of writing, you also need to think about GASP.

Genre

Audience

Style

Purpose

Genre

The genre is the form your writing will take and the conventions you'll need to follow to execute it successfully. Each genre will have its own rules and expectations that make it unique, and once you've decided on your genre, you must incorporate these into your writing too.

Examples of general writing genres include:

  • Short stories, poetry, scriptwriting, novels, creative non-fiction

Examples of academic writing genres include:

  • Essays, reports, and research papers

Examples of creative writing genres include:

  • Comedy, romance, tragedy, horror, science fiction, etc.

Audience

Your audience is the people your writing is intended for. As a student, this will likely be your teacher, tutor, or classmates. The audience of your writing will determine, to an extent, the tone and style you use to write.

Style

Style refers to how you will convey your ideas or topic. In writing, style refers to the manner you use to express yourself or convey information. Deciding on a style will determine some of the characteristics of your writing.

There are seven key writing styles:

  • Narrative writing
  • Technical writing
  • Persuasive writing
  • Expository writing
  • Personal writing
  • Analytical writing
  • Creative writing
  • Descriptive writing

As a student, it is likely you will have experimented with some of these different styles before.

During your English Language studies, most of your writing projects will be academic in nature and will take the form of one of the academic writing genres listed in the Genre section above (essays, reports, etc.).

As such, you need to ensure that you maintain a fairly formal style and tone throughout your writing. You should be able to write about your topic with a sense of authority (after ample research), and this should come across in your writing through your professional and academic style. You should also ensure that you follow the conventions of academic writing (e.g., having a reference list).

Of course, if the writing project is more creative or narrative in genre, you'll have more freedom to experiment with more informal styles.

Purpose

The purpose is the intention of your writing. Is your purpose to entertain, inform, or persuade? You must know the purpose of your writing, as this will enable you to convey your topic effectively without leaving out any important aspects.

Other purpose examples include:

  • To educate
  • To describe
  • To express feelings
  • To solve a problem

A firm grasp on your GASP will help your writing take shape, ensuring it has the right format, tone, characteristics, and style for the audience and purpose for which it is intended.

Planning

When you've identified your core topic and have ascertained what your genre, audience, style, and purpose are, you can start planning. Planning is a critical part of drafting, as it helps your work to gain more structure.

Making notes, keeping a list of all the sources you've used so that you can reference them more easily, and drawing up a rough outline for your essay's structure are all good ways to plan your writing.

An example of a rough essay outline might look something like this:

Introduction

  • State how the essay will tackle the essay question or research topic.
  • Briefly summarize key points that will be covered in the essay.
  • If you have been asked to express an opinion or argue for one side of a debate, state what the viewpoint of the essay will be.

Paragraph 1:

  • Select the first point you want to make and begin this paragraph with a topic sentence (a sentence summarizing what the paragraph will cover).
  • Evidence to support your point.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your point.
  • Link to the next paragraph.

(Notice that the PEEL – point, evidence, explanation, link – format has been followed here.)

Paragraph 2+:

  • Subsequent paragraphs should follow a similar structure to the outline for Paragraph 1 above.

Conclusion:

  • Clearly state your final thoughts and illustrate how your research and writing have supported your argument.

Using a structure like this can help you fill in the necessary details for your essay while ensuring the flow of your essay makes sense.

Ignore Small Details

A common problem many people have when writing is that they'll write a few sentences, stop, and rewrite them until they feel perfect. It would be best if you tried to avoid doing this when you're drafting.

Instead of obsessing over minute details in each sentence, try to keep writing fluidly. Getting more thoughts written down will help you to consolidate your ideas and form your argument more effectively. Stopping to correct every small mistake immediately can interrupt your flow and make it more challenging to finish a draft.

If you struggle with writing consistently because you often stop to correct what you've already written, try setting a timer. Try writing solidly for the duration of your timer, after which time you can have a break to read through what you've written (or grab something to drink!).

Remember that the process of drafting requires you to come back to your work several times. Each time you come back to it and make changes, you improve it, and eventually, you'll be happy with the result and can submit it as your final draft.

Drafting Skills

Drafting requires several skills that you probably already possess. However, the more you practice drafting your writing, the more these skills will improve.

  • Skimming and scanning: Skimming your writing and scanning for errors and issues is a key skill in drafting, as it allows you to make edits more quickly.

  • Sentence construction: There can be no drafting without writing, so your sentence construction skills need to be strong. Sentence structure is something you can monitor and edit during drafting, though, so don't worry about being perfect the first time.

  • Research skills: Research is essential to allow you to fill in any content gaps, add detail to your arguments, and provide evidence to back up your points.

  • Vision/ planning: You need to be able to see where your writing is going before you waste time writing a whole essay that doesn't necessarily express your topic effectively.

  • Editing and self-critique: Because drafting is a lengthy process that requires you to come back to your work several times, you must be able to edit your own work without too much bias. You should be able to critique yourself and identify where you've gone wrong.

Drafting Example

The drafting process will depend on the kind of written project you're doing and on you as a writer. However, here is a brief example of what that process might look like:

  • The first draft/ preliminary drafting: the first phase of jotting down ideas and thoughts
  • Structural drafting: where the ideas get organized into a basic structure.
  • Rough drafting/ work-in-progress drafting: where you completed a rough version of the completed document
  • Final drafting: when you are happy with your work and submit the final draft

Drafting, fireworks, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Once you've submitted your final draft, it's time to celebrate!

Drafting - Key Takeaways

  • Drafting is a key part of the writing and editing process.
  • Drafting refers to the process of revisiting one's written work several times and editing and improving the draft each time.
  • Writers should consider GASP when they draft their work: genre, audience, style, and purpose.
  • Drafting is important because it allows writers to gradually improve their work, add more detail and evidence, and eliminate errors, inaccuracies, and structural issues.
  • The final draft is the version of the work you submit to your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions about Drafting

The purpose of drafting is to help the writer improve their work by revisiting it and editing it multiple times. Each time a writer creates a new draft of their work, it will have improved from the last draft.

Drafting doesn't really have a direct synonym, however, drafting is part of the editing process, so the two terms are often used interchangeably.

An example of a draft could be the first version of an English Language essay where the student writes down their ideas quite roughly and might not have checked for spelling, grammar, and structural errors yet. This first draft may also require more detail or evidence, and may need to be redrafted several times. 

There is no set number of drafting types but generally, drafting follows a pattern similar to this:


  • The first draft/ preliminary drafting: the first phase of jotting down ideas and thoughts. 
  • Structural drafting: where the ideas get organized into a basic structure.
  • Rough drafting/ work-in-progress drafting: where the writer has completed a rough version of the completed document.
  • Final drafting: when the writer is happy with their work and submits the final draft.

Drafting is important because it allows the writer to improve their work gradually through revisiting and editing it. Drafting also allows the writer to explore their topic more deeply, add more detail and evidence to their writing, and ensure that irrelevant material is removed. 

Final Drafting Quiz

Question

True or false, drafting is simply not being finished with a project.

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Answer

False, drafting is a process in and of itself where work is gradually, continually improved. 

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Question

Briefly outline three reasons why drafting is important.

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Answer

  • It allows the writer to fill in any content gaps that they might have noticed in earlier drafts.
  • It helps you to get words on the page, which can alleviate some anxiety around writing.
  • It allows students to research and explore their ideas more deeply and clarify any lacking points. 

Show question

Question

True or false, there are strict rules you must follow when drafting written work. 

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Answer

False

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Question

Which of these best describes the most important part of drafting?

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Answer

Getting words on the page/ getting writing

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Question

What does GASP stand for?

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Answer

Genre

Audience

Style

Purpose

Show question

Question

Which of these is NOT an example of genre?

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Answer

Technical writing

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Question

Briefly describe the importance of knowing your audience when writing.

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Answer

Having a defined audience enables the writer to target their writing appropriately, using the correct style and tone to suit that audience. Knowing your audience will also help to ensure you include the right content. 

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Question

Which of these best describes style in writing?

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Answer

The manner in which you convey thoughts and information. 

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Question

Which of these is NOT an example of a writing style?

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Answer

Literary writing

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Question

List five potential purposes writers might have.

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Answer

Any from this list or any others you can think of:

  • to inform
  • to educate
  • to persuade
  • to describe
  • to express feelings
  • to solve a problem

Show question

Question

Why is it important to know the purpose of your writing?

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Answer

This will enable you to convey your topic effectively without leaving out any important aspects.

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Question

What is a topic sentence?

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Answer

A sentence summarizing what a paragraph will cover.

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Question

What does PEEL stand for?

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Answer

Point

Evidence

Explanation

Link

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Question

What does the "Link" part of PEEL refer to?

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Answer

Linking one paragraph to the next.

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Question

Why should you not worry about getting your sentence structure, grammar, and spelling perfect the first time round? What should you do instead?

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Answer

Obsessing over small details immediately can lead to your writing flow being disrupted. Instead, you should try writing solidly for a period of time before reading through what you've written.

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