“I’ll figure that out . . . when I get the time.”
“I really don’t know how to start!”
“I really should write my essay!”
This common dilemma is expressed over and over again by many people everywhere. The good news is that anybody can write my essay!
There are three main reasons for essays:
1. To help you cohesively construct an argument and defend it on paper.
2. To help you develop good written and oral communication skills.
3. To help you to figure out how to find information.
Not knowing how to write properly can make your academic life disorganized, stressful, and chaotic. By improving your writing skills, you can confidently and quickly finish assignments and write properly throughout your professional career.
Writing an essay can be very simple when you follow these basic steps: choose a topic, define the scope of your essay, create the outline, write the essay, and — proofread, proofread, proofread!
The Essay Topic
The first step in writing an essay is to select a topic (if one has not been assigned). In order to define a topic, you should think about the goal of the essay. Is the purpose of the essay to persuade, educate, or describe a topic — or for something else entirely? It is generally helpful to brainstorm ideas by jotting down favorite subjects or thinking of a topic that may be interesting to you.
Define the Scope of the Essay
The next step is to define the scope of your essay. Is the subject matter very broad, or will the essay cover a specific topic with detail-oriented examples? Thinking about the overall topic and scope will help you to begin the writing process.
Create an Outline
The next step is to create the outline. You may think that an outline is an unnecessary, time-consuming task — but this step will actually help save time! An outline will help keep you focused while writing your essay, and help keep you from wandering aimlessly in conducting your research. It should be composed of the main idea of the essay or thesis
statement, and the arguments that support it. The outline is often numbered and organized by paragraph, but more abstract outlines will also help to organize and focus your
Writing the Essay
The subsequent step is writing the essay. The introduction paragraph should begin with an attention grabber. This is a statement that lures the reader into wanting to read the rest of the essay. The next few sentences should be very broad in the topic and should lead to the narrow focus of the thesis statement, which is usually the very last sentence of the introduction paragraph. There are typically three body paragraphs, and each one starts by tackling one of the main ideas presented in the thesis statement. The following sentences should describe and elaborate on the main point. Details of specific examples should be included to strengthen your main ideas. The conclusion paragraph summarizes the essay and provides a final perspective on the main topic. It often begins with a paraphrase of the original thesis statement, and sometimes includes a future prediction based on the viewpoint presented in the essay.
Types of Essay
There are many different types of essays and the names may vary according to where you live. These include argumentative essays, academic essays, cause-and-effect essays, descriptive essays, and narrative essays. You might also have to write an admissions essay if you are applying for a place at a university or you could be asked to write an essay for a scholarship. Other types of essays include comparison essays and research essays. Knowing the type of essay expected will help you to come up with the best format. If you are new to essay writing, ask your tutor to explain.
Understanding the Essay Title
This is one of the most important aspects of essay writing. You can write a brilliant essay but will get very low marks and probably fail your assignment if you have not answered the question which was asked. So before you put pen to paper make sure you have interpreted the title correctly. If you are asked to choose your own essay title, it is a good idea to check with your tutor that it is suitable.
Brainstorming Once you have a firm essay title and are clear about what it means, you can have a brainstorming session to come up with as made ideas as you can which relate to your essay title. If you have a lot of ideas, the next stage is to narrow them down to the most important and most relevant points.
Depending on the topic of your essay, you may need to do some background research. This could be to find evidence to support your point of view or argument or to find out what people who are experts in the field think about a particular subject. Or it could be to find scientific or historical facts or statistical data.
You will need to keep a record of your sources so that you can include them in your bibliography. So when you find useful information which you might use, write down the name of the book or journal, the edition, page number, author, date of publication, and publisher
Or the website, with the exact URL and the date on which you accessed it. If you do this as you are doing your research, it will save you a lot of time later. It’s very annoying and time-consuming if you find you have a wonderful piece of information or a great quotation and you can’t remember where you found
Planning Your Essay
Planning your essay involves organizing your ideas into a logical order. You can do this by creating a mind map or by making a list of headings with bullet points under each. Your essay needs to be well structured
Before you begin, make sure you know the word limit for your essay. You will usually be given a definite number eg 1500 words or 2000- 2500 words. If you are given a fixed number, it is usually acceptable to write 10% fewer or 10% more words. If you are given a range, try to stay within that range. However, check this with your tutor as you don’t want to be penalized.
Proofreading Your Essay
The final step in writing a thesis is proofreading. Proofreading is actually the most important part of writing the essay and is often skipped. A few items to consider when proofreading your essay are the order of the paragraphs, the flow of the sentences, grammar, spelling, and the instructions for the assignment. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Does your essay make sense?
- Does each sentence flow to the next sentence well?
- Are there any points that can be made stronger or clearer?
- Are there words that are used frequently?
- Are there any run-on sentences or fragments?
The proofreading process sometimes takes longer than the actual writing process, but this is what makes the difference between a concise and well-thought-out essay, and a bad essay.
When the process of writing an essay is broken into pieces, the process seems more manageable and easier to complete for the beginner. The process consists of thinking about a topic, creating an outline, writing the essay, and proofreading the essay. This makes essay writing an interesting learning experience and helps the writer express his or her thoughts more clearly, concisely, and with more validation.
Colleen Spiegel is a consultant engineer and writer. For more information, please visit