A lot of times when writing a paper I can lose my train of thought and go off on some explanation or detail that describes my explanations or details; this is often times called “Fluff”. While descriptions and examples are a necessity in paper, we need to make sure that we stick to the point and do not confuse the reader of what we are trying to prove.

To avoid doing this, before i start a paper, I often need to write out an outline. This helps me stay focused and on top of what I am needing/ wanting to prove to my reader. This outline starts out with my Introduction and thesis, then moves onto my three main ideas (more if needed) under these main ideas, I create bullet points stating what I must point out and describe in detail maybe giving an example without all of the nonsense that I often find my self typing when jumping straight into writing the paper. Following these three main ideas I have a conclusion. I learned this technique in elementary school and if was called the stop light effect. Green being your introduction, starting up the paper getting it ready to go. Yellow: you main ideas, Slow down and describe what you are trying to prove in detail. and Red: you conclusion. its time to fully stop and conclude your paper.

In a tutoring session this is how I would help the student understand this process:

Tutor: Good paper, what were the main points you were trying to point out?

Student: Well I have three main points but I feel as if i go off topic in explaining some of them.

Tutor: Okay well maybe try the stop light effect! That is when you draw out your intro, revving up your paper, getting it ready to go and getting your ready excited to read it. Then pic out the three main points that you are trying to prove, but you must slow down and describe then once fully, avoiding all of the fluff and commotion of other things that might try to steer you away from your main road or idea. After that comes the red light where you come to a full stop concluding your paper and bringing it to an end.

remember this is your paper (road) and you must steer straight on it. You still must include descriptions that you pass by, but avoid turning onto a new road with a brand new stop light! 🙂