How do I write a successful essay?
This is a discussion on What are the best tips for essay writing? within the Education & Career Talk forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; How do I write a successful essay?...
How do I write a successful essay?
1. start with an interesting intro, related to your theme/subject or whatever
2. thesis statement - what you will be talking about (include a brief statement about the points you will be making about your subject)
3. make a point and back it up
(third paragraph and so forth)
4+. more points and stuff to back up what you are saying with
#. conclusion. re-summarize what you have said in an interesting manner.
-it helps to start with an outline of precisely what you want to get across, then flesh it out into your essay
Don’t worry, tense-up or struggle. Being fearful or apprehensive doesn’t help. Open your mind as you consider topics to write about, open your heart to let your response flow through your fingertips.
If you have been given a writing assignment be sure to answer any questions posed. Check for punctuation, misspellings or incomplete thoughts in your responses before submitting.
So the first part is writing, the second part is checking your work.
A handy tip for essays and job applications is that your written work speaks for you when you are not present. If you want to be well thought of by the reader, submit a quality product.
have something worth reading to say
If you aren't experienced with essay writing, I recommend starting with an outline.
Start with the thesis. Your thesis may change several times as you write the paper, so don't worry about it too much at first, but try to have at least a general thesis and put that at the top of the page. It should say what you intend to prove and how you intend to prove it. If it helps, write it in a very straight forward manner at first (eg, "in this paper I will show that the work of Kafka cannot be understood as separate from his historical circumstances and I will demonstrate this by examining the social, philosophical, and spiritual milieus he occupied.")
Write a topic sentence for each paragraph you intend to write. Arrange them until they flow and you are able to make logical connections between the points. For example, in a very basic essay you might devote a paragraph each to the social, philosophical, and spiritual elements mentioned in the sample thesis. The topic sentence should more or less state what you intend to prove, and then be backed up with evidence. The final sentence of each paragraph should state the significance and serve as a bridge to the next point.
Write a conclusion that more or less re-states the thesis, but expands on it. A brief summary of points is fine, but not usually necessary for a short paper. You've just led your reader down a path, and now you need to demonstrate how your conclusion logically follows from the points.
Finally, ask yourself: okay, so what?
You've just convinced your reader that your thesis is true and walked them through the argument. Now, why should they care? Try to use your last few sentences (at minimum) to explain or at least allude to why this is important in a broader sense or how it contributes to a field of inquiry.
Other basic tips:
Proofread, proofread, and proofread again. There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure your formatting is perfect, as well. A lot of students lose points just for being sloppy.
Have a friend read it over if you need to and point out areas they find confusing. They don't need to have read Kafka to understand your argument if you've made your case clearly and logically enough. But they may be able to point out rough spots which you missed.
Don't worry too much about making your paper aesthetically pleasing until the very end, or not at all if you are an inexperienced writer. With time you will be able to take that choppy, mechanical outline I described and soften the edges until it flows seamlessly. You may even develop your own distinctive style. But if you're new to this, your first priority should be sentence structure and logic. Professors would much rather read a boring but logical essay than a bunch of flowery garbage that says nothing.
Quote sparingly, and correctly. Make sure you understand how to cite your sources and don't use quotes just to fill up a word count. A quote without an explanation is worse than useless. It is your evidence to support your point, but you have to explain to the reader how it supports your point.
Be novel, but don't try to reinvent the wheel. Your thesis should not be banal (eg, "Plato was a good philosopher") but no professor is going to expect you to dismantle Kantian ethics in one fell swoop. Pick a very specific piece of an argument or work of literature to focus on, and prove something plausible.
6:30pm - Do not start writing the paper until the night before it is due. Take some time to collect your thoughts.
6:45 - You will need a large pot of coffee. Coffee is crucial to the writing process. You are out of coffee. Go the the store. While there pick up some other stuff.
7:30 - 9:45pm - Clean your room, organize your sock drawer, catch up on a weeks worth of flossing. The bathroom could use a good scrub as well.
9:45pm - 12am - Stare at the blank page until midnight then take a 15 minute nap.
Wake up at 1:30am.
Now, .. now you are primed with enough self loathing and desperation to start writing.
Last edited by Not that guy; 08-24-2018 at 08:05 AM.
I was an academic writing tutor for years. The single most important piece of advice I can give you regarding academic essay writing is answer the prompt. It was always astounding to me how many people would bring me a paper that they worked so hard on that totally missed the point of the assignment. Even if it's not academic, still try to start out by asking yourself what you are trying to achieve with the essay. Are you trying to share data objectively, to persuade, or to present a question? What audience are you speaking to? Are they familiar with your topic, or do you need to flesh it out a bit first? What can you do to ensure your paper conveys the importance of what you are saying to your audience?
In general - use examples, be clear, and make it meaningful. Always back your statements up with evidence, and cite your sources. When in doubt, choose clear, simple language over flowery language, both because it will allow less skilled readers to engage in your writing but also because it will help you ensure that you have strong points and logic (no "hiding behind" complex wording). Convey to your reader the significance of your topic; getting them invested up front will help them stay interested throughout the paper. If you're having a hard time getting started, a real example with sensory detail typically makes for a great introduction. Use the conclusion to quickly sum up your main points and remind the reader why they should care.
@Not that guy pfffft hahaha story of so many nights of my college life
Last edited by angelfish; 09-01-2018 at 10:39 PM.
Do your research/find your sources beforehand, not during, and let them gestate in your mind a bit before starting on your essay. If you hate citing as much as I do get something like Mendeley to do the heavy lifting for you, it's not perfect especially with older sources but it's vastly preferable to doing all the incredibly tedious work yourself. It also has some tools like highlighting and notes to help you get to the salient bits of your source quickly. Another QoL tip, get comfortable resizing tabs. Having one pdf, one book open in google and your essay all sharing the screen (albeit awkwardly) while you're drawing from them to write something is vastly preferable to tabbing between fullscreen versions of each. Also, cloud storage is amazing.