General Essay Writing Tips

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Writing a successful essay is easy and does not need to be an intimidating process. With the right guidance and practice, anyone can become proficient in composing essays. It is important to do your research and understand the topic, as well as familiarize yourself with relevant conventions and style requirements. Also, develop a clear outline of your ideas and arguments before you begin writing. These steps can help you craft a well-structured and effective essay.

Steps to Writing an Essay

Follow these 6 steps for the best results:

  1. Read and understand the subject matter: Before crafting a response to any given topic, careful consideration should be taken to ensure that the proper context is grasped and the content is aligned with the intended purpose and audience. Taking the time to read and understand the topic before writing will help to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.
  2. Plan: When beginning to write an essay, it is important to take the time to brainstorm and organize your ideas. A well-thought-out plan will enable you to create a cohesive and well-structured essay that communicates your ideas effectively. Taking the time to plan in advance can also help to save time in the long run, as it eliminates the need for numerous revisions and edits.
  3. Ensure that you give credit: Conduct thorough research and incorporate quotes and paraphrasing, but NEVER present someone else's work as your own.
  4. Write a Draft: It is important to begin writing your draft sooner rather than later. Writing a draft allows you to capture your thoughts and ideas, and can be an important first step in creating a finished product. Once your draft is written, you can then review and refine it, making any necessary changes to ensure that it meets your desired outcome.
  5. Make a strong thesis: It should be well-supported and evidence-based, as it serves as the foundation of the essay and should be a strong point. Crafting a strong thesis will help to guide the structure of the essay and ensure that the points made are valid and relevant.
  6. Proofread: Examine your answer meticulously to ensure accuracy and completeness.

It is essential to bear in mind that every essay task has its own unique characteristics. If the step does not apply to your essay, you can proceed to the following one.

The Five-Paragraph Essay

Essays written in high school and college typically follow the same five-paragraph structure, while more sophisticated academic papers may have different requirements:

Though it may appear formulaic, the purpose of this arrangement is to facilitate comprehension of the points presented in an essay. If you organize your essay in a way that is familiar to readers, it will be easier for them to locate the information most relevant to them.

The Introduction

The objective of an introduction is to reveal your standpoint on the problem at hand, often referred to as a thesis or argument, but a powerful introduction can be much more than that.

At the start of the essay, you should use an attention-grabbing "hook" to draw the reader in and make them eager to continue reading before they even reach the thesis statement. Examples of attention-grabbing hooks can be a meaningful quotation ("no man is an island") or a startling statistic ("three out of four doctors report that…")

Once the reader is intrigued, you can then progress to the essay's thesis. Your thesis should be a one-sentence statement of your standpoint that immediately conveys to the reader your viewpoint.

After introducing your thesis statement, provide a brief overview of the evidence you will use to back it up throughout the essay. This not only previews the content of the upcoming paragraphs, but it also provides the reader with an insight into the main body of the essay.

We can thus conclude that the introductory section of an essay need not be any longer than three to four sentences. If your writing is too lengthy, it might be beneficial to shorten it a little.

As a demonstration, let us consider the following introductory passage to an essay tackling the query: "Do we benefit more from recognizing our errors or from our successful deeds?"

Nobody exists in a vacuum, and our lives are constantly molded and affected by our encounters. Experience is the best teacher, and mistakes often provide more insight than successes do. One can find evidence for this in both scientific research and everyday occurrences.

The Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs, which come between the introduction and conclusion, are the primary sections of the essay. As suggested above, they are used to explain the examples that support the main argument.

Begin the initial body paragraph of your essay with your most compelling argument or most noteworthy example, unless a chronological explanation requires another starting point. The initial statement of this section should be the main point of the paragraph that explicitly connects to the points indicated in the brief outline of the introductory passage.

An effective essay will then provide the reader with an in-depth explanation of an example and why it is pertinent to the original topic sentence.

Famous examples are only meaningful when placed in their proper context in an essay. Taking George Washington as an illustration, do you mean to evoke his uprightness, fearlessness, or perhaps even his false teeth? It is your responsibility as the author to create an accurate representation of the facts for the audience. It is beneficial to furnish the audience with five to six facts related to the person's life or event that best represent your point.

Once you have done that, you must clearly demonstrate how this instance supports your argument in the essay. The significance of this step is paramount and should not be overlooked; this is the fundamental purpose of your illustration. Conclude the agreement by explicitly indicating how this example is applicable.

Here is an illustrative body paragraph that builds upon the essay above.

For instance, consider Thomas Edison. Despite becoming renowned in the latter part of the 19th century due to his successes, the renowned American inventor believed his accomplishments were actually the product of his numerous failures. Despite numerous attempts, he was unable to make his most renowned invention, the lightbulb, a success on his first or even hundredth try. He endured through over 1,000 trials before succeeding in creating the first incandescent bulb, and gained valuable knowledge in the process. As he himself said, "I did not fail a thousand times, but instead succeeded in finding a thousand ways it would not work." By his actions and reflections, Edison proved that errors can be beneficial learning experiences.


A Word on Transitions

It is evident that the previous passage follows the given structure with one exception: the opening words. Transitional phrases, such as "furthermore," "moreover," "by contrast," and "on the other hand," are essential for effective writing of an essay.

Transitional phrases can act as a bridge between different sections of a text, much like the verbal cues used to denote the end and start of a point during formal speeches. Essentially, they direct the reader from one part of the paragraph to the next.

To illustrate this point further, take a look at the second body paragraph in our sample essay:

In the same vein, we can all relate to Edison on some level. We can only perfect our abilities in cycling, driving, and baking through trial and error. Very few people are able to go from having never ridden a bicycle to running a marathon in one day, but making mistakes along the way can help us become better in the long run. In order to make a cake, some eggs must be cracked, and similarly, we acquire knowledge through trial and error, which necessarily entails committing errors.

It is hoped that this example will not only show how to write a successful body paragraph but also how to incorporate transitional words to separate ideas.

The Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph should not be regarded as an afterthought, even though it is the last paragraph in your essay, as it allows you to restate your argument and should be structured accordingly.

The conclusion can be seen as a reiteration of the introduction, as it often has similar elements. The length of the essay does not need to be exhaustive - four carefully composed sentences can be enough - yet they could be the deciding factor in its success.

The concluding paragraph should start with a transition word or phrase such as "in conclusion" or "in the end", and should refer back to the attention-grabbing element used in the introduction. After that, you should restate your thesis statement right away.

You should have repeated your thesis multiple times in the essay by now, so while it is important to vary your word choice throughout the body paragraphs, it is okay to incorporate some of the same phrases you used in the introduction.

After having completed all of the above, the ultimate part of your essay should be a grand declaration or an appeal to action that indicates to the reader that the topic has been concluded.

In the end, it is evident that errors are much more instrumental in teaching and advancing us than successes. By looking at both scientific examples and our own experiences, it is evident that if we view our mistakes as opportunities for growth, the potential for personal development is infinite.

More tips to make your essay shine

Planning Yields Rewards

It may appear counter-intuitive, especially when preparing for an exam, but taking a few moments to brainstorm before starting an essay is often beneficial. This should help you to identify the strongest arguments to include in your essay instead of just the initial ideas that come to mind.

The idea that makes your argument the strongest and of which you have the most knowledge should be presented first. Poorly placed arguments can cause even the most eloquent essays to fall short.

Seek out Diversity.

The use of a diverse range of words and sentences is a key indicator of successful writing. When composing, make an effort to use varied terminology and expressions. You don't need to be an expert in synonyms, but a bit of diversity can make the same idea shine.

In contrast, try to steer clear of starting sentences with the monotonous structure of "subject + verb + direct object."

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Ultimately, bear in mind that quality writing does not occur spontaneously. Despite our best efforts to provide a straightforward description of how to write a successful essay, it is much simpler to understand than to put into practice.

Consequently, we urge you to hone your essay-writing skills by writing practice essays on a variety of topics. With regular practice, even initial attempts that are not perfect can eventually be transformed into masterpieces and give you the confidence to tackle the actual task.

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