Essays can be assigned in many different courses for many different purposes. You may be assigned an essay to explain a concept, to argue for a cause, to prove your research skills or to synthesise many different topics into a coherent whole. Regardless of why you may be writing an essay, certain facets of essay writing will never change. Become comfortable with the basics of essay writing today, and your high marks will be reward enough tomorrow!
Know What You are Writing AboutIt may seem deceptively simple, but a lot of students forget that when they sit down to write they should know what they are writing about. Not only should you be clear about the topic, but you should be clear about your thesis (the main argument of your paper) as well. To save yourself time, manipulate your thesis until it is a single statement capable of being explained in just on sentence. When it has become this finely tuned you are ready to write.
Know Why You are WritingOnce you know what you are writing about, become familiar with why you are writing the essay. Are you answering an assigned question? Are you arguing your own conclusions? Think about the purpose of your essay and you will come to know how you are meant to write it as well. Common types of essays include:
- Argumentative Essays – you are arguing one side of an issue and trying to convince readers that you are right. You must be clear and logical in your writing.
- Comparison Essays – you are leading readers to see similarities between two things. You must be descriptive and provide explanations in your writing.
- Contrasting Essays – you are leading readers to see the differences between two things. Again, you must be descriptive and provide explanations in your writing.
- Descriptive Essays – you are literally describing something for the reader. Your writing must be clear, it must be organised and it must provide a great amount of detail.
- Evaluative Essays – you are evaluating a topic for your reader and hoping to bring them around to your point of view. Like in an argumentative essay, you must be clear and logical in your writing.
- Narrative Essays – you are taking the reader through a certain event or happening. Writing a narrative essay is akin to writing a story, so your writing must be clear, to the point, include details and most often be organised chronologically.
Know How You are WritingWhen it comes time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, make sure that you know how you are going to write your essay. At its most basic an essay must include:
- Introduction - at least one paragraph in which you grab the reader’s attention, introduce your topic and put forth your thesis statement.
- Body – giving at least one paragraph to each of your main points, the body is the space in which you detail your evidence and flesh out your arguments.
- Conclusion – at least one paragraph in which you summarise your main points, re-outline your arguments and conclude your essay.