The Beginner’s Guide to Writing an Essay
Essay writing skills are crucial for every student who wants to successfully complete their studies. Indeed, mastering the skill of writing an essay establishes a strong foundation for academic success. The word essay might sound strange to you, but you do not have to worry anymore. Through this guide, you shall gain a deeper understanding about the process of writing an essay and with continuous practice, you shall become an essay writing expert. But before going any further, it is crucial to note that there are various types of essays depending on the subject of study, academic level and course requirements. Additionally, it is good to be aware that an essay is a piece of writing that includes an argument based on existing evidence. Thus, the aim of an essay is to persuade your audience, using informed arguments, to lean towards a certain position.
Now, let me walk you through the journey of writing an effective essay.
This is the first step of your essay writing process. At this stage, you choose a topic if your professor has not given you the topic. After selecting a relevant topic, you move to the next step of carrying out research that is relevant to the topic of research. Thereafter, you develop an outline for your essay which basically contains the main points that you will discuss in your essay. This outline indicates how the points in your essay will flow.
At this stage, it is essential that you understand the key instruction verbs that are commonly used by your professor since they determine which type of essay you should write. These common instruction verbs include analyze, compare and contrast, discuss, criticize, relate and evaluate. For instance, if you are told to analyze something, what your professor needs from your essay is the identification of key features of a given subject, then an examination of the relationship among those features. Conversely, when told to criticize something, your professor expects your essay to contain both the positive and negative aspects of a subject which are backed up by evidence. In sum, the key instruction verbs determine the type of essay you will write.
This is the major part of your essay writing process as it contains the introduction, the main body and the conclusion of your essay.
This is the first part of your essay which is used in introducing the topic of your essay to your audience. It covers three major things that are aimed at grabbing the interest of your reader. First, it contains the first sentence which hooks your audience to your essay; it sparks the curiosity of your audience and makes them want to read further. Assume that you are doing an essay on the effects of global warming. Your hook could go like: “Global warming is a serious environmental issue that is threatening the survival of human beings and the natural environment”. Such a sentence would make your reader more curious about how global warming is threatening the lives of human beings.
Second, the introduction gives background information on your topic. It gives the reader the context of your argument as well as the significance of the argument.
Lastly, this is the part that contains the thesis statement. Basically, your thesis statement reflects your position on the topic under discussion. Ensure that this statement is quite clear to your reader by avoiding logical fallacies. The meaning of logical fallacies is explained further under the section on Some things to avoid when writing essays.
This is the biggest section of your essay which ranges between three to five paragraphs long. Each paragraph discusses a major point through the sequence of 1) introducing the point using a topic sentence, 2) presenting your argument, and 3) providing evidence to support your argument. You may use examples if necessary. If there is any counter-argument to the point you presented, you do it here and then transition to the next point which starts in a new paragraph. Please follow the outline you prepared in the pre-writing stage to ensure that you cover all the points you had researched about.
This is last part of your essay which wraps up your writing. To make a strong conclusion, you should: a) restate your thesis statement, b) summarize your arguments/main points, c) make connections between your arguments, d) show the implications of your points in the real world, including academic and any other field that is related to the topic under research.
Point to note: You should never introduce any new information in the conclusion. Anything that was not discussed in the essay should not be included in the conclusion.
After writing your essay, it is crucial to go through it to identify any typographical and grammatical errors and correct them. You may use third party applications to proofread your essay. Once you feel your essay is ready, you can submit it to your professor as per the given instructions.
Essential components of a good essay
Some things to avoid when writing essays
Now that you have an idea of how to write an essay, keep on practicing as many times as possible, and you shall become an expert within a very short time.