What is the best way to write an essay?
Writing an essay, paper or thesis is the greatest challenge of their studies for many students. Even for those who want to become a writer it is very difficult. Not knowing where to start (writer’s block), going through long nights to finish the essay etc. And no one has ever told you how to express and explain your own opinion scientifically. How to disagree with academics who are supposed to be the experts?. Also, with the exception of literary studies, little attention is paid to writing skills during your study time. This makes essays look elusive. It looks like a trick you must have a talent for. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a good system that is used to create essays since 2020. And, if you know this system, it’s just a matter of practice. This process can be further accelerated by targeted feedback from an expert.
Why write an essay?
Frequently heard reasons for writing an essay or paper are: “because you have to”, “to get a good grade”, “to show the teacher what I know” and “to make a point”. While the first three reasons seem legitimate, an essay ultimately has one simple goal: to make an argument. With this speech you answer a specific (research) question, you demonstrate that you have studied the subject critically, you present a rational speech, you use an academic writing style and you ensure professional design. In particular, remember that an essay is an argument and not a summary of what you have read. So don’t be tempted to show off all your freshly acquired knowledge but only use knowledge that really contributes to the point you want to make. Finally, it is important that you write an essay on a topic that you are passionate about.
What is an essay?
Think of an essay as a thought experiment. An essay takes the reader on a journey from the starting point (introduction) to the destination (conclusion). An essay highlights a topic and answers a question based on an argument. You do this by using academic arguments. These consist of three elements: a claim, a reason for this claim, and reasoning and evidence to link the reason to the claim. Reasoning consists of ideas in a logical structure, while evidence is information that suggests or demonstrates that these ideas are credible. For example: “A communist regime is unsustainable, which is demonstrated by government activities to keep it afloat, such as censorship and a travel ban.”
How to start an essay.
A good start is half the battle, just to name a cliché. A good essay is planned, written and edited (in this order). Work out what you want to say, write it down and make it easy to read. Sounds simple right? However, students and writers often suffer from procrastination. You secretly hope the assignment disappears, you decide to do something more important (like washing the dishes) or take a short break that mysteriously gets very long. Roughly two different strategies can be presented against this. Strategy one is for persistent procrastinators: put everything aside and agree that you will work on your essay for 20 minutes non-stop. Once you are busy you will see that it soon becomes more than 20 minutes. Strategy two is for procrastinators who particularly hate writing: bring writing closer to speaking. Write down everything that comes to mind spontaneously and don’t pay attention to writing style, spelling and punctuation. That will come later.
The first step in planning your essay is to answer the question. To do that, first of all you need to understand the question well (what is its scope and context?) And ultimately communicate this to the reader whom you will try to persuade. You place a figurative framework around the essay. Terms that you use here are for example “in the context of…”, “in light of…”, “in relation to…” The second part, answering the question, is a process that consists of creating, testing and refining the position. With this position (or ‘thesis statement’), you express one idea in a single sentence, answer the essay’s question directly, and make a persuasive claim that a reader may disagree or agree with. Otherwise it is not a thesis statement or it isn’t worth writing an essay about.
The best way to create the structure of an essay is to write an ‘outline’. Outline formatting is a miniature version of your essay, written in numbered separate sentences or catchwords. An essay always has the basic format of introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction consists of the background of the argument (what is the background and why is it relevant?) and concludes with your point of view. Paragraphs are the building blocks of the text. Pyramid and funnel are two different methods of building a paragraph. The pyramid is the most commonly used. This type of paragraph starts with a statement. You can add different levels (main points, sub points). The conclusion puts your argument in a broader context and considers the future. It answers the ‘so what?’ question that may occur to your reader while reading your essay.
Write a draft.
A draft is a first version of your essay. Don’t try to make it perfect. Focus on creating text. The following 10 tips will help you write a draft:
- Imagine speaking to your reader and writing down what you would say to them.
- Start wherever you want: this is how you stimulate momentum and creativity.
- Write as soon as possible: focus on creating, not correcting.
- Stick to the outline: only adjust this if you really get stuck or get fundamentally new insights.
- Use the sentences of the outline as triggers: write a paragraph after each sentence in your outline.
- Use questions from your notes to generate answers: have a kind of conversation with yourself.
- If you get stuck, look for evidence (watch out for plagiarism).
- Review your position regularly with new knowledge and insights.
- Do not correct: you save a lot of time by only correcting at the end.
- Take short breaks, but don’t give in to distractions.
After writing the draft you will edit or correct. This helps you with the thinking process, communicating your ideas effectively and of course getting a good score. Make the text as simple as possible, but never simpler than reality. Be correct, but don’t use difficult to understand academic language where you don’t have to. Never use more words than necessary. Your draft is probably longer than the final essay, because it takes time and effort to make a text to the point. The goal is a text that is accurate, concise and clear.
Check the paragraphs for the following guidelines:
- One idea per paragraph, expressed in the first sentence.
- Uncomplicated sentences: vary in length (but never more than 25 words) and connect sentences.
- Use appropriate words: which the reader understands, from the sources used.
- At least three sentences per paragraph.
Have the essay corrected by others to correct unnecessary errors. Finally, read it one more time before submitting it. We hope this article will help you creating a great essay. However, if you have the feeling that you could use some more information, we recommend this excellent article written by the FastWeb Team. Good luck!