7.1 Translating your plan
You have now reached the stage when it is time to translate your plan, whatever its form, into the assignment itself. It is likely that this will be a first attempt at the exercise – a first draft. You may be one of the lucky few who only needs to write one draft. Or, if you have taken some time over your planning, one draft before the final version may be enough. But if you are finding it difficult to reconcile opposing points of view or to fit in a great deal of information, you may need two or three drafts. If this is the case, take a step back and check that you are sticking to your plan and are not trying to include too much ‘just in case’. Finally, if you feel you need to write lots of drafts before you are satisfied with the final product, ask yourself why it is necessary. What might you do to reduce the number of drafts and thus save time?
What is the difference between the appearance of your plan and the assignment itself? Note down the steps that you must take to convert one to the other.
Your plan only needs to make sense to you. It may be diagrammatic in form, using circles and arrows and abbreviations. It is the bare bones of your assignment. It is also disposable and changeable.
The assignment itself must be understandable to anyone who is marking it, as certain expectations will need to be met. You will find help in any guidance notes you've been given for your course. Reading these is just as important as interpreting the assignment title as they will explain the conventions that you are expected to abide by in shaping your piece of writing. For instance: if it asks for 1500 words in continuous prose, it would not be a good idea to write 2000 words and use sub-headings.
A useful way of converting your plan into a first draft of your assignment is to number each of the areas you want to include (you may have already linked them with arrows). This confirms the order in which you want to present ideas and ensures a logical flow. Then, cross off each area once you have written about it, so there is no danger of repeating yourself. This can be encouraging by showing you how much progress you are making. If you would like some practice in this, try using Figure 2 as a model to work on.