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Essay Writing Guide

Essay Writing Guide

Essay Writing Guide

The term ‘essay’ is derived from the Latin word ‘exagium’, which implies presenting one’s case. Essays can therefore be considered as a short piece of writing that reflects a writer’s thoughts, experiences etc. Essays can be both formal and informal in nature. Formal essays are usually academic in nature. Writing an academic essay implies shaping an articulate collection of ideas into a strong argument. Since essays are fundamentally linear in nature as they propose one idea at a time, essays should present their ideas in an order that makes maximum sense to a reader. A well - structured essay is one that attends to the logic of a reader. Thus, the structure of an essay is extremely important. Even though there are specific guidelines for writing certain classic essay types such as comparative analysis, there are no fixed method.

Types of Essays

There are broadly four types of essays

  1. Narrative Essays: Narrative essays are those essays where a writer narrates an incident or story. They are written in first person narrative in a vivid and engaging manner so as to engross the reader. The objective of writing a narrative essay is to engage and involve the reader so that the reader feels present in the moment and feels as if they were witnessing the event as it unfolds.
  2. Descriptive Essays: In descriptive essays, a writer describes a place, an event, an object or sometimes even a memory and evoke the myriad senses of the reader making the reader feel and relate to the emotions of the writer.
  3. Expository Essays: In an expository essay, a writer provides a balanced study of a particular topic. Expository essays are entirely based on facts, statistics etc. Sub-types of expository essays include contrast essays, cause and effect essays etc.
  4. Persuasive Essays: In a persuasive essay, a writer along with presenting facts also attempts to persuade the reader to support the point of view of the writer. Even though both sides of an argument are presented in a persuasive essay, the aim of the writer is to convince and persuade the reader to agree with the point of view of the writer.

Format of an Essay

An essay follows a basic structure and consists of three parts known as an Introduction, Discussion and a Conclusion

  1. Introduction: The introduction sets the focus of one’s essay wherein one introduces the topic. The introduction enlightens the readers about the main idea of the essay title. History of essay says, an introduction should provide a clear and concise overview of your thoughts and the arguments that you hold regarding your topic and give a very brief synopsis of your essay. You could get creative while writing the introduction of your essay. This will ensure that you draw the attention of the reader and keep the reader engaged.
  2. Discussion: Discussion also refers to the Body of your Essay. This will form the main core of your essay and you should include the chief and the most significant content of the essay here. The discussion should be well researched and supported by analytical facts and figures. It is advisable to consult several books, journals, articles, notes etc. while writing the discussion and to always ensure that every point in your essay relates to the essay question thereby adding value to your arguments. The body of the essay would contain information regarding your topic, explaining and describing your topic in detail. Paragraphs are integral to writing a good essay and each paragraph should put forth a new idea, a specific point backed with relevant evidence.
  3. Conclusion: This is where one concludes and summarizes their essay in a clear and concise format. You should bring together your thoughts and opinions and write them together in the conclusion. The conclusion tends to bring closure and put forth your ideas while simultaneously giving a final standpoint on your chosen topic. While writing a conclusion, make sure to review the important points that supports your thesis statement. Your conclusion should comprise the following aspects:
  • The importance of your research
  • The implications of your conclusion
  • The limitations of the argumentative essay writing approach that you have taken

It should be kept in mind that a conclusion does not contain any new information and hence you should not include any new information while writing your conclusion. The conclusion of your essay should merely be a summary of your ideas, thoughts, arguments and points that you have mentioned in the essay.

After you have written an error free essay, you should edit and proofread your essay, checking for grammatical errors or errors in sentence construction or language

Tips for writing a good essay

  1. Reading the essay prompt with utmost attention to comprehend the question: This is an important stage while writing an essay as it will help you to identify the type of essay. Look for Directive or process words in your topic that state what you are expected to do in an essay. You should highlight and make a note of these keywords in the essay prompt such as ‘explain’, ‘compare,’ ‘contrast’ ‘discuss,’ ‘evaluate’ etc. that will give you an idea of the type of essay you are expected to write.
  2. Choose a topic: After you have got an outline of the essay, you will be better prepared to choose a relevant topic. Start by brainstorming ideas and jotting down your thoughts and ideas pertaining to the topic. Brainstorming will help you explore your ideas in an open and uncritical way. Take account of the following points while brainstorming thoughts and ideas:
  • The questions that are essential to discern the context of the essay
  • Adequate evidence that support your arguments
  • Any new line of thought or ideas generated by the question
  • Potential lines of argument, thought and research

Brainstorming ideas provides you with a much-needed boost and give you a sense of direction and helps you to devise a writing plan. Brainstorming ideas serves as a primary guide to essay writing. The more you explore, research and discover about a topic, the more your mind will broaden and generate new ideas. Pick an interesting topic and if you are unable to pick up an essay topic on your own, do not hesitate to ask your teacher for assistance. Time Management is of utmost importance and so is conducting extensive research. After you have chosen your topic, start gathering information pertaining to your chosen topic from several sources like university libraries, journal databases, search engines, newspaper archives and other sources of information.

  1. Build an outline: Before you start writing your essay, it is advisable to create an essay outline. After you have finished brainstorming, start to build an outline for the essay. A rough plan or an outline will aid you in formulating the principal argument and provide you with a basic idea of your essay. In addition, it will assist you in generating sub-arguments as well. Building an outline will help you stay focused as you start to research and write your essay and prevent you from digressing.

Following is a sample:

 

Introduction paragraph

First sentence

Thesis statement

Body paragraph

Provide statistics and relevant

Information pertaining to the subject

Research undertaken on the topic

Conclusion paragraph

Reiterate your thesis statement

Provide supporting arguments

Write a call to action

 

Write the Thesis Statement

A thesis statement informs the reader the purpose of your essay. A thesis statement should mention the topic of your essay along with the chief argument of your essay and also state your response to the problem. The thesis statement should be written in the first paragraph of the essay and then reiterated again when you write the conclusion of your essay.

Write the Introductory paragraph

After you have created a thesis statement, write an interesting introductory paragraph. Make the   introduction of your essay interesting in order to draw and retain the attention of your readers.

Write the body paragraphs

In this section of the essay, you should describe, explain or put forth your arguments. Each paragraph should elucidate a separate idea. The paragraph should begin with an introductory sentence followed by the central idea, backed with examples and requisite information and examples. You should also ensure that you cite all the reference materials that you use.

Write the Conclusion paragraph

The conclusion of an essay provides you with a chance to summarize your ideas. Make it short and concise. Refrain from introducing new ideas while writing your conclusion and only summarize your previous arguments. You may choose to reaffirm your thesis statement and support your stance once again.

Edit your first draft

After you have finished writing your essay, edit and proofread your work. Check the structure of your essay and ensure that you have the correct format is used. Revise and double check your paper to ensure that the sentences are well constructed and there is a smooth flow of thoughts with paragraphs flowing into each other effortlessly. Check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and punctuation marks and make changes if required. Delete irrelevant sections and improve expressions by altering the vocabulary. Ensure that your essay does not exceed the word count or fall short of it. Finally, write the final draft of your essay and submit it within the cut-off date.

Things to avoid while writing an essay

A common flaw in essays is what experts call the "walk-through" (also known as "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays are essays that chart the structure of their sources instead of establishing their own. These kind of essays in general have a descriptive thesis instead of an argumentative one and should be best avoided. Steer clear of paragraph openers that includes "time" words (“after,” "first," "next," "then")

Writing a well-researched, creative essay is easy and a fulfilling experience and you too can do so by following the above-mentioned steps.

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