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Rough Draft Checklist

My Introduction has:

__ an attention grabber.
__ an overview of my topic.
__ my thesis statement at the end.

My Body paragraphs:

__ begin with a topic sentence that presents the subtopic.
__ give strong evidence to support the subtopic.
__ have a sentence which transitions to the next paragraph.

My Conclusion:

__ restates my thesis in different words or a different way.
__ Briefly summarizes each subtopic.
__ Ends with a strong clincher: a meaningful final sentence that usually refers back to the attention grabber.

Rough Draft

There are many manuals available in print and online on how to write.  This isn’t one of them!  However, there are some guidelines that you can follow that will make your writing better and the rough draft less painful.

·    Read the assignment again if necessary.
·    This is your last chance to get more information, but don’t go overboard.  You don’t have time to redo your research.  There’s always one more stat, one more quote…
·    Read over your outline and check your introductory paragraph.  Make sure that they match!
·    Have your notes sorted and visible.
·    Use your outline.
·    Make sure that your quotations are worth using.  They must use language that is either difficult to paraphrase, or is so well-written that nothing you write could possibly do it justice.  Sometimes quotes are exactly what you need to prove your argument.   Direct quotes from important people in your subject area can also be beneficial.
·    Refer often to your rubric.  This is how you will be graded!  If you find that you will be marked down drastically for spelling and grammatical errors, pay special attention to these details. 

When crafting body paragraphs, follow this structure:  Begin with a topic sentence that presents a subtopic.  Then give strong evidence in as many paragraphs as necessary to support this subtopic.  Then have a sentence which transitions to your next paragraph.  At times, this sentence can be a challenge to write.  If you can’t think of a clever way to segue one paragraph to another, leave it alone and revisit the paragraph later.

Give yourself a break! (I’m not kidding.) Take several short breaks while writing.  If this means stepping away from your desk and skipping around your house, do it.  Grab a snack.  Talk to your Mom.  Pet your dog.  Put away your laundry.  Do not, however,  go to Facebook or other time-eaters on the Internet.  Do not text a friend or watch a movie.  You need a break from technology of all kinds.  Don’t do something that you know will turn into a long time commitment.  Get a little bit of exercise, even if it means a couple sets of jumping jacks.  Leave for some fresh air and then read what you have written down.  You may be surprised at how good (or bad) it really is.  The break will also give your brain time to digest some ideas.  You may even have a “eureka” moment and discover a good sentence for your introduction or conclusion.

The conclusion should be written at the end.  It should restate your thesis in different words or in a different way.  You should briefly summarize each subtopic.  End it with a strong clincher for a meaningful final sentence.  This can be the hardest sentence to write, especially if you are in a rush.  If, during your writing, you think of a clincher, write it down somewhere immediately! 

Example from Elephant Dentistry


1.      Needs an attention grabber: an interesting example, statistic, historical fact, anecdote (two sentence story) or a quote relating to the topic.
2.      An overview of the topic.
3.      The thesis statement (your opinion of the specialty).

Example with Elephant Dentistry:

        Before the specialty of elephant dentistry, no one considered treating elephant

tusks when they became infected.  After a lifetime of hauling goods and people,

elephants were sent away to live out their final days in suffering.  
Today, elephant

dentists not only treat infected tusks, but also provide preventive care to elephants.  

This routine maintenance supports the elephants with healthy tusks and improves their

overall well-being. 
  The elephant dentist is in demand by wildlife professionals and

is a vital member of the zoo caretaking team.  The bravery and expertise of the elephant

dentist is admirable and well-respected by animal caretakers and dentists.

Body Paragraphs:

1.      Begin with a topic sentence that presents the subtopic.
2.      Give strong evidence to support the subtopic.
3.      Have a sentence which transitions to the next paragraph.

       Elephant dentistry has a long and interesting history.  In ancient times, the Asian

was seen as a labor animal and was discarded after they were no longer useful.

In 1832,
Dr. Wang Chung of the Shanghai Zoo, performed the first tuskectomy.  Chung

later developed
several of the basic techniques of elephant dentistry such as cleaning,

flossing, and sterilization
(Simon, 2010, p. 89).   The specialty followed Chung’s practices

until 1855 when Dr. Doo Little
modernized these procedures (Smith, n.d., para. 5).

       Little was a collector and professor at the University of Wisconsin who visited Asia and

Africa at the turn of the century (Sampson, 2000, p.7).  According to colleague Paul

Robinson, Little loved elephants “more than his own children” (Horace, 2000, p. 77).  

– and so on….



1.      Restate your thesis in different words or in a different way.
2.      Briefly summarize each subtopic.
3.      End it with a strong clincher for a meaningful final sentence.  This can be the hardest sentence to write, especially if you are in a rush.  If, during your writing, you think of a clincher, write it down somewhere immediately! 

        Zoologists and animal wildlife experts agree that the elephant dentist has one of the

daunting jobs at the zoo.  Because of the vast amount of expertise and courage

necessary for the position, these dentists are highly compensated and continue to

be in demand. 
The specialty of elephant dentistry has evolved and become more

refined, along with the instruments needed to perform the craft.  The schooling involved

to be an elephant dentist requires several years of study, including an undergraduate

degree and a four year school of dentistry at either Tufts or Harvard.    Through

preventative cleanings and tuskectomies, elephants have a higher quality of life and

an even longer lifespan.
 Through their care and diligence, elephant dentists have

proven that these noble animals deserve the same level of care afforded to humans

and other animals. 

Final Draft

Take some time to reflect on your rough draft.  Put it away for a day or so and then reread it and make corrections. This is also the time to, once again, read the assignment sheet and rubric to make sure that you will maximize your chances of a better grade.  Correct any grammatical and spelling errors.  Double-check your Works Cited or References page and your parenthetical citations. 

Examine the flow of your writing.  Read it out loud.  Does it sound good?  Do the sentences transition easily from one to the next?  If you wrote this paper all by yourself, you will have a certain style or “voice” to your writing that can be identified by your teacher.  Is this voice consistent?  Or do you sound alternately like a college professor?  Be yourself.  No one wants to read something that sounds like a piece of legal writing or literary criticism from the 18th century.  

On that note, remember that your teacher may have 30 of these to read.  Make your writing interesting.  If it reads like a bore in an attempt to sound professorial, it’s not going to help you.

If possible, present your rough draft to your teacher a week before the due date.  If your teacher allows or requires a rough draft, they will make corrections on it.  Make sure you follow these suggestions.

Subject Guide

Jennifer Jourdain's picture
Jennifer Jourdain
Montachusett Regional Voc Tech School
1050 Westminster Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
(978) 345-9200 x5125