Drafting the Body

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 12017

You've chosen the meat, cheese, veggies, topping, and bread. But it's not a sandwich until you put them together. Gather the thoughts you've gathered and put them in order to make an appealing paper!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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It's time to do some writing! Gather the proper tools to transform your outline into a well-thought-out and organized first draft!

When tackling the first draft of your paper, get organized by dividing the paper into three sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

In this lesson, you will focus on writing the body of your paper. The major task of drafting the body is moving borrowed material recorded in your final outline into the paper itself with accuracy, and with the addition of analysis and personal insight.

If you wish to revisit any of the previous Writing a Research Paper Related Lessons from the introduction through the final outline, you will find them in the right-hand sidebar.

While writing the body of your paper, keep all of the following tips from Writing a Great Research Paper, by Erika Eby, in mind:

  • Make sure your body supports the claims made in your thesis statement.
  • Use cited research to support each of your points.
  • Explain how the research you are citing supports your argument.
  • Develop a rhythm for writing the paper.
  • Use your thesis statement and outline in combination to guide your writing.
  • Be sure to include transitions between each paragraph in the body.

While drafting the body of your paper, it is also important to apply the technique, "Show vs. Tell." This technique is more generally applied to fictional or description writing, but it also has its place in research writing. Look at the following example provided by Writing a Great Research Paper, by Erika Eby:

Tell Telling is when you directly tell the reader a fact or opinion and they have to assume that this
is true based on that statement. Example: "Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and makes grass green."

Show Showing is when you present the reader with descriptions, details, and facts, and let
them draw conclusions based on that information. Example: "Grass, like most plants, takes in
sunlight to produce essential nutrients. Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight, which triggers a chemical
reaction within the plant to create the nutrients the plant needs to survive. Chlorophyll has a
greenish hue, which is why healthy plants are generally green, and dying or dead plants are not."

The body of your paper will consist of several paragraphs. As you draft each paragraph and work to show not tell, you must also create well-organized paragraphs. Review the basics of structuring a paragraph in the article, On Paragraphs, created by the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Next, read the article and examples provided in Basic Paragraph Structure, created by F. Scott Walters. You will do more practice with writing paragraphs later in the Got It? section of the lesson, but for now, discuss what you read with your parent or teacher. Think about the following questions:

  • What information, if any, is new to you from these articles?
  • What do you view as the most challenging part of writing a paragraph?
  • In your own words, explain the basic components of a paragraph.

Next, read the following articles covering more basic information about writing the body of a research paper. Take notes while reading, so you can reference this information later. Begin with the article, The Body of Your Paper, by PowerWrite, a Furman University-created site. Click here for a list of Transitions and Transitional Phrases from PowerWrite. Printing a copy of this list so you can reference it while you are writing this paper will be helpful. Transitions are essential for rhythm and coherency in your paper.

Here are a few more tips provided by Writing a Great Research Paper, by Erika Eby, on developing a rhythm in your paper:

  1. Start with a transition and topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph.
  2. Add more information to further explain the topic and how it relates to your thesis statement.
  3. Back up what you have said so far with information from your sources.
  4. Explain how the information you have cited supports your point(s) and adds credibility to your argument.
  5. Add additional citations and explanations if you have more for the topic.
  6. Repeat until you have covered all of the points you are addressing in the paper.

Now that you know all of the things you should do while writing the body of your paper, read over this list of things to avoid. According to Amy Kleppner and Cynthia Skelton, in the text, Research Paper Procedure: High School, the following are traps to avoid while drafting the body of your paper:

  • Inadequate paraphrasing and faulty documentation can lead to plagiarism.
  • Sloppy presentation of borrowed material can misrepresent an author's original point of view.
  • Using direct quotations without introduction or segue leads to sloppy or confusing papers.
  • Long lists of quotations without adequate follow-up or explanation create potential confusion for the reader.

Finally, before you begin your first draft, remember the importance of in-text citations. Read MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics, from the Purdue Online Writing Lab. For further instruction, reference the document titled, In-Text Citations, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. This same document was used in the Related Lesson on the final outline.

Though there are many tips and pointers for drafting your paper, if you have carefully completed the previous steps of the writing process, you are really just putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Follow your outline and the tips provided, and you will have a coherent and organized first draft of your research paper.

Move on to the Got It? section to practice your writing skills.

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