Zero In On: 7 General Essay Writing Tips

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Author: Nicolas Braun

1. Choose an appropriate topic

There are two possible situations – your topic is assigned by a tutor or you are allowed to write on the subject you want. In the first case it’s better to think of the things you can focus on and try to understand what type of paper you can create – something general or narrow. If you belong to the second group and nothing limits you, then you need to spend some time and determine in which topics/questions you are interested the most. If it’s hard to choose one, then write down several ideas and compare their prospects.

2. Work on an outline

One of the basic things you have to do in order to write a successful essay is to organize your thoughts. The most effective way is to write them down, after that you won’t forget or lose anything, besides it gives an opportunity to find out links and connections between the ideas and facts. For those who better perceive the information with their eyes a diagram is the best option. The topic of the essay is a central part, draw several braches from the center and put the ideas at the ends. The number of the branches and their order depends only on you. Outline supporters can write the topic at the top of the page and list your ideas below, it’s important to leave some space for smaller ideas, thus you can see a linear structure of the essay.

3. Create a thesis statement

When your topic is formulated, you should take care of the thesis statement. Developing the thesis you tell readers what point of view you share in the essay. Your thesis statement may be considered as a clear and strong answer to the essay question, it shouldn’t be extremely simple or sophisticated. This is a foundation of the essay you declare in the introduction. You should mention and refer to it in the body of the essay and in the conclusion.

4. Write the body

Teachers and lecturers usually recommend starting with the introduction, and only after that think of the body, but experience shows that it doesn’t work in each case. A lot of students say that it’s much easier for them to focus on paragraphs of the body and later write other parts, but we don’t have time to argue. In the body you need to explain or describe the topic. Look through the outline or the diagram and follow the principle one big idea – one paragraph. Present the main idea as a topic sentence of the paragraph and gradually describe it.

5. Produce the introduction

As we mentioned before point #4 and #5 may be replaced. It’s up to you to decide which step to do first. The aim of the introduction is to attract attention of readers and indicate what questions will be answered. The introduction must include your thesis and start the discussion. Nowadays a lot of ways to grab reader’s attention are known, for example offer a piece of shocking information, a story or an appropriate quote.

6. Draw the conclusions

This section sums up everything you have said previously and provide the way you have proven the thesis sentence. It’s a final perspective on the issue of the essay. In any case you shouldn’t repeat everything you described in the body; on the contrary, you should mention only the brightest facts and details. Frankly speaking, you won’t be able to write a huge “memoir”, as the traditional conclusion covers in average 3-5 sentences.

7. Edit the essay

Only one decisive step separates you from the finish. First of all, you should carefully reread the paper and pay attention to the smallest details. Check the content and the order of the paragraphs; make sure you mentioned all ideas from the outline. Don’t forget about the instructions given by your teacher/lecturer and the requirements of desired academic style, as they greatly affect the final mark. Correct spelling and punctuation mistakes (if it’s necessary), connect thoughts and ideas by means of special phrases and expressions. If you have enough time and don’t hurry up, leave the paper for several hours or days and read it one more time with fresh eyes.  It helps to see the paper as a person who read it for the first time.

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