1. Topic/Research Question
This is it! You've made it so far and now you're almost done. But before you start doing the happy dance...
You have to add some substance to your bare-bones skeleton. Remember your outline?
Now it's time to flesh it out...
Take your important points and match up the resources that support them. Then start explaining how they support your point and how they relate to each other. You want to tie it all together and tell the reader just how each of these things answers the question you are posing.
DON'T get caught up in trying to write your thesis statement first, do the body of the paper first and THEN go back and write your thesis and conclusion.
Think of it this way:
Your paper is a journey to answer your question. You write out the route to make sure you know you'll get where you're going, then write the abbreviated instructions at the beginning and then talk about the trip after you're done (for your conclusion).
How about this?
Your thesis is the short answer to your question and the body of the paper is the long answer.
Let your creativity flow and don't be afraid to enjoy the opportunity to employ your vocabulary. This is also where you get to use all those transition words and phrases your elementary and junior high school English teacher drilled into you head. Have fun explaining to your reader how all the dots connect!
Once you have finished with the body, and gone back to write the thesis and conclusion, go ahead and sit back and relax and let your paper sit for 1-3 days (or even longer if you were REALLY on the ball). Don't even go back and re-read portions until you've let it sit for a little while. You'll have a much fresher eye and will be able to catch more flaws, mistakes, typos and stuff after you've rested a bit.
Once you've let it set, you are ready to move on to the last, final, ultimate step:
Step 7 Editing!