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General Essay Writing Tips

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❶Global statement or call to action. Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes or commas.

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The Five Paragraph Essay


Is it the logic, the sources, the writing, the structure? Is it something else? What evidence does the author present to you? Why does the evidence sound credible? Is the logic sound or faulty, and why?

Why is the logic sound? Brainstorm your own ideas. Sure, you can use the arguments of others to back up what you want to say. However, you need to come up with your original spin on the topic to make it uniquely yours. Make lists of ideas. You can also try mind mapping. Walk in your neighborhood or local park and think about your topic. Be prepared for ideas to come to you when you least expect them.

Write your thesis statement. Look at the ideas that you generated. Choose one to three of your strongest ideas that support your topic. You should be able to support these ideas with evidence from your research.

Write a thesis statement that summarizes the ideas that you plan to present. Essentially, let the reader know where you're going, why, and how you will get there.

A thesis statement should have a narrow focus include both your topic and what you plan to present. For example, "Although Eli Whitney's cotton gin ushered in a new era of American prosperity, it also widened the gap in suffering for African-American slaves, who would soon be more in demand, and more exploited, than ever. Take the thoughts that you brainstormed and assemble them into an outline. Write a topic sentence for your main ideas. Then, underneath, make bullet points and list your supporting evidence.

Generally, you want three arguments or pieces of evidence to support each main idea. In , after the cotton gin had been adopted, slaves totaled about 1. Write the body of your essay. You do want to think about length here; don't write pages and pages if your teacher wants 5 paragraphs.

However, you should freewrite to let your thoughts reveal themselves. You can always make them more concise later. Don't use "I" statements such as "I think. Simply stating your argument with supporting facts makes you sound much more authoritative. Instead of writing, "I found Frum to have a conservative bias," tell the reader why your statement is true: It's tempting to allow your thoughts to wander or to add additional information that seems interesting.

However, this distracts from your purpose and undermines your essay. Make sure you stay on topic! Come up with a compelling title and introduction. Your title and introduction make people want to read your essay. If your teacher is the audience, then of course your teacher will read the whole piece.

However, if you're submitting to an essay contest or writing an essay for college admissions, your title and introduction have to hook the reader if you want to meet your objectives. Skip obvious expressions such as, "This essay is about, "The topic of this essay is" or "I will now show that".

Try the inverted pyramid formula. Start off with a very broad description of your topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific thesis statement. Try to use no more than 3 to 5 sentences for short essays, and no more than 1 page for longer essays. Alternatively, you might open with an anecdote or quote that sets up the importance of your topic. Every year, thousands of unwanted and abused animals end up in municipal shelters.

Being caged in shelters not only causes animals to suffer but also drains local government budgets. Towns and cities could prevent both animal abuse and government waste by requiring prospective pet owners to go through mandatory education before allowing them to obtain a pet.

Although residents may initially resist the requirement, they will soon see that the benefits of mandatory pet owner education far outweigh the costs. Summarize your points and suggest ways in which your conclusion can be thought of in a larger sense. Answer questions like, "What are the implications of your thesis statement being true? In a sense, you are repackaging your thesis statement in your concluding paragraph by helping the reader to remember the journey through your essay.

Nail the last sentence. If your title and first paragraph make the reader want to read your essay, then your last sentence makes the reader remember you. If a gymnast does a great balance beam routine but falls on the landing, then people forget the routine. Gymnasts need to "stick the landing," and so do essay writers. Wait a day or so and re-read your essay. Get your essay done a couple of days before the due date so that you have time to go back and revise it to make it polished.

Avoid turning in a first draft that you haven't double-checked for errors. Correct errors related to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes or commas. Avoid using exclamation points. Make sure you know how to use apostrophes correctly. Look for mistakes involving general punctuation. Check for run-on sentences , commas and periods inside quotation marks, as well as sparely-used dashes, colons, and semi-colons.

Remove any repetitive or unnecessary words. Vary your language with the help of a thesaurus. Also, consult a dictionary to make sure that you're using unfamiliar words correctly.

At the same time, try to keep your language short, sweet, and to the point. A thesaurus is a great tool, but don't just use big words to sound fancy. The best essays are clear, concise, and easily understood by a wide audience. Focus on writing killer verbs for sentences. Verbs communicate the action in a sentence and drive the action.

A great verb can be the difference between a bland sentence and a beautiful one. Adjectives are great descriptive words, but when used indiscriminately, they can burden an essay and make it less readable. Try to let the verbs and nouns do most of the heavy lifting before you focus on adjectives. Avoid colloquial informal writing. Do not use contractions or abbreviations e. Your essay should have a serious tone, even if it's written in a light or lyrical style. Analyze how your essay flows.

Does each sentence lead smoothly to the next? Does each paragraph flow logically to the next? Although you can analyze your essay by reading through it, it's helpful to make a reverse outline, working from your essay to outline your thoughts.

When events happen in sequence: I first started to realize that I was in the minority when I was in middle school My realization was confirmed when I proceeded to high school. If sentences elaborate on each other: Plants need water to survive A plant's ability to absorb water depends on the nutrition of the soil.

When an idea contrasts with another idea: Vegetarians argue that land is unnecessarily wasted by feeding animals to be eaten as food Opponents argue that land being used for grazing would not be able to be used to create any other kind of food. If you're relaying a cause and effect relationship: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college I am inspired to continue my family's progress through the generations. When connecting similar ideas: Organic food is thought to be better for the environment.

Cut information that's not specifically related to your topic. You don't want your essay to ramble off-topic. Any information that doesn't directly or indirectly support your thesis should be cut out. Have someone read your paper aloud to you. Your ears are sometimes better than your eyes at picking up mistakes in language. The essay should sound like it has a good flow and understandable words. As an alternative, you can record yourself reading it aloud and play it back.

Rewrite any problematic body passages. If needed, rearrange sentences and paragraphs into a different order. Make sure that both your conclusion and introduction match the changes that you make to the body. Compose your essay with a clear purpose. A persuasive essay is designed to sway the reader to adopt your point of view about a topic. This means it's important that your views are expressed in a clear, concise manner, which allows the reader to understand your argument.

These are good examples of persuasive essay topics you might write about: Whether governments should or should not fund embryonic stem cell research. Whether love is a virtue or a vice. Why Citizen Kane is the best movie of the 20th century. Why American citizens should be forced to vote. Write your essay as though you are conducting a debate. When you speak in a debate, you introduce your topic, list your evidence and draw a conclusion for the people who are listening.

A persuasive essay has a similar structure. Collect facts from good sources to justify your opinions. After that you should immediately provide a restatement of your thesis statement. This should be the fourth or fifth time you have repeated your thesis so while you should use a variety of word choice in the body paragraphs it is a acceptable idea to use some but not all of the original language you used in the introduction.

This echoing effect not only reinforces your argument but also ties it nicely to the second key element of the conclusion: Having done all of that, the final element — and final sentence in your essay — should be a "global statement" or "call to action" that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. The conclusion paragraph can be a difficult paragraph to write effectively but, as it is your last chance to convince or otherwise impress the reader, it is worth investing some time in.

Take this opportunity to restate your thesis with confidence; if you present your argument as "obvious" then the reader might just do the same. Although you can reuse the same key words in the conclusion as you did in the introduction, try not to copy whole phrases word for word.

Instead, try to use this last paragraph to really show your skills as a writer by being as artful in your rephrasing as possible. Although it may seem like a waste of time — especially during exams where time is tight — it is almost always better to brainstorm a bit before beginning your essay. This should enable you to find the best supporting ideas — rather than simply the first ones that come to mind — and position them in your essay accordingly.

Your best supporting idea — the one that most strongly makes your case and, simultaneously, about which you have the most knowledge — should go first. Even the best-written essays can fail because of ineffectively placed arguments. Sentences and vocabulary of varying complexity are one of the hallmarks of effective writing. When you are writing, try to avoid using the same words and phrases over and over again.

If you are asked about "money," you could try "wealth" or "riches. In the end, though, remember that good writing does not happen by accident. Although we have endeavored to explain everything that goes into effective essay writing in as clear and concise a way as possible, it is much easier in theory than it is in practice.

As a result, we recommend that you practice writing sample essays on various topics. Even if they are not masterpieces at first, a bit of regular practice will soon change that — and make you better prepared when it comes to the real thing. Sign in to Your Account Done. Don't have an Account? Want to see sample essays? Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more! DO — Pay Attention to Your Introductory Paragraph Because this is the first paragraph of your essay it is your opportunity to give the reader the best first impression possible.

DO — Tie Things Together The first sentence — the topic sentence - of your body paragraphs needs to have a lot individual pieces to be truly effective. DO — Be Powerful The conclusion paragraph can be a difficult paragraph to write effectively but, as it is your last chance to convince or otherwise impress the reader, it is worth investing some time in. DO NOT — Copy the First Paragraph Although you can reuse the same key words in the conclusion as you did in the introduction, try not to copy whole phrases word for word.

Please freely duplicate this material for personal use or for non-commercial classroom purposes. Any use of this material for other than non-commercial personal or classroom purposes is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the author. If you do not have the free. You may find that you have questions about writing an essay that this site does not answer. Many other sites have additional information about writing an essay, including information about more complex issues such as handling citations and bibliographies.

Zebra alphabet courtesy of WebDiner. Pen graphic courtesy of Animated G. These simple steps will guide you through the essay writing process:


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Writing a "how-to" essay is trickier than it may seem. This list will help you to find a topic that you know well, to make the project easier.

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How-to essays, also known as process essays, are much like recipes; they provide instruction for carrying out a procedure or task. You can write a how-to essay about any procedure that you find interesting, just as long as your topic fits the teacher's assignment. Steps for Writing a Process Essay.

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Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic. An essay can have many purposes, but the basic structure is the same no matter what. You may be writing an essay to argue for a particular point of view or to .

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