An essay is defined as a short piece of writing that expresses information as well as the writer’s opinion. There are many different types of essays, and the content and length will depend on the topic and academic level that you’re writing at. Nonetheless, there are some basic guidelines that are helpful regardless of what you’re writing.
Understand the question: This might sound obvious, but it’s important to distinguish exactly what you’re being asked to do. For example, are you being requested to critically evaluate something, or to compare and contrast? By ensuring you understand the question, you will then be able to provide a response that is appropriate.
Tips for essay writing
Select your essay type: This will partly be informed by the question asked – but you can decide what kind of format you’ll use in response. For example: a narrative essay, persuasive or argumentative essay or a descriptive or informative essay. Here is some further information on Different Types of Essays.
Plan and schedule: Writing an essay at the last minute is stressful and doesn’t allow you to produce the best piece possible. So, an important part of your essay writing process is to actually plan which components you’ll do when. For example: brainstorm; collect articles/sources; read and take notes; start writing; finish first draft; proofread; hand in. Assign a date to each task and hold yourself to those deadlines!
Brainstorm: Before you even begin writing, spend some time brainstorming ideas around your topic. Mind-mapping is a very useful way to cluster your ideas, or even post-its notes up on the wall! Once you have a good range of ideas to work from, then select those that you feel are the best angle for you to use.
Brainstorm an essay with mindmapping
Research: To write a good essay, you will generally need to do some research first. Go to your local library or look for information online. You could even interview people knowledgeable on the subject. Read as widely as you can so that you can draw from a variety of sources in your writing.
Develop your thesis: The main point of your essay is called your thesis statement. It is a sentence that captures the essence of what the essay is about and all points you make in the essay will refer back to this overarching, main point.
Outline your essay: Before you begin writing in detail, it is very useful to sketch the outline of what you want to say. You can do this by writing the main point or first sentence of each section or paragraph. Tie is supporting facts that you want to reference in each section.
Find a great hook hook for your essay
Write your essay: Once you’ve got your outline, now you can begin writing. You’ve got the skeleton in place which allows you to flesh out and go into detail more easily. Ensure that everything flows together and that you transition between points fluidly. Pay special attention to the introduction and conclusion and refine them until they are concise and clearly convey the information you’re presenting. It is important to have a good ‘hook’ in the introduction that will encourage your reader to read on. Here are some great tips on How to Write a Great Hook.
Plagiarism: This is critical when referencing other sources – plagiarism is considered a serious offense! If you are referencing another writer’s ideas and work, ensure that you cite your references clearly.
Revise and edit: Once you’ve finished writing, give yourself a day or two and then come back to revise and edit your essay. Having fresh eyes really helps to catch gremlins as well as provide the space to refine your piece even further. Asking a friend or family member to have a read through can also be very helpful and give you some good feedback.
As with most skills in life, the more you practice, the better you will become! So, use these guidelines to help refine your penmanship, and keep writing!