I begin by carefully examining the essay’s criteria, in order to determine exactly what will be required. This examination is then broken down into an outline, which will be referenced repeatedly throughout the composition of my essay. After determining the precise subject matter for my assignment, I begin my research with general sources, and/or the source directly pertaining to the assignment, to thoroughly engage with the material. From this research, I determine my stance on the argument, and compose my thesis.
After determining my argument, I compile an outline document which comprises of each section necessary in the essay. If additional research is required for the assignment, I will engage in a thorough research for multiple viable sources. Depending on the nature of the assignment, I will either begin with internet or print sources. My general rule is to attempt to engage at least twenty sources for a research-source-based assignment. If the assignment is not research-source-based, I will pour my energies into an aggressive analysis of the primary material pertaining to the assignment. Any passages which prove beneficial to my essay are copied under the relevant outline section.
Once all of my necessary information has been compiled, I begin to compose my essay in a new document. Using the outline as a basis, I work on each section separately. I do not necessarily work on each section chronologically, but will engage each section in the order of strongest to weakest argument. As I engage the material, it can become apparent that my current stance differs subtly from my thesis. Working on each section out of order enables me to examine my analysis of the information without bias, and therefore reconstruct my thesis if it is necessary.
The first draft of my essay will then undergo editing, through both a micro and macro analysis. Any statements or information which prove to be inaccurate or ineffective are removed or altered, and any gaps in the argument or material are supported with additional quotes or statements. As a general rule, I prefer to leave a day or two in between edits, so that I can analyze the strength of my argument from a fresh perspective. After three to four edits, I feel satisfied with the strength of my argument.
An example of this process, is the recent close-reading analysis paper for this course. I began by carefully examining the requirements of the assignment, and creating an outline of criteria gleaned from D2L and the blog site. I then photocopied the chosen passage from the primary source material pertaining to the assignment, to allow for detailed analysis. With the outline as a guide, I engaged a careful step-by-step analysis of the Shakespearean passage, based on the assignment suggestions. At the suggestion of the guidelines, I engaged in several analysis sessions on separate days. This information was compiled in notation on the photocopy, as well as more detailed note-taking in a notebook.
Immersing myself in the analysis allowed me to conclude that the passage was meant to simulate fearful anticipation in the audience, by using poetic techniques. Alliterative sounds were jarring and percussive to the ear, which would invoke the fearful sounds one would hear before the battle. The stakes of the coming battle would have caused fearful fantasizing in the English, so a mythical element was created with supernatural metaphor, personification, and simile. After several rounds of analysis and editing, I was confident that I had explored the facets of proof which were fundamental to my argument.
Analysis of my technique for shifting from evidence to argument, has led to the conclusion that my method is both pragmatic and thorough.