How to Write an Essay

This article gives a basic guidance to students to write a good essay. It explains what an essay is, who writes it, the types of essays, styles and format of essays, what makes up an essay, how to write an essay, and finally, it gives tips for writing a good essay.

What is an essay and who writes it?

Everyone starts their life as a student in school. As students, every Tom, Dick, and Harry is somehow or the other are asked to write some piece of writing called ‘an essay’ and unsurprisingly most students find writing essays problematic and uninteresting. First let’s see what an essay is. The term ‘essay’ may not be restricted to one particular set definition but can have several definitions. The defines essay as “a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and analytic, speculative, or interpretative.” The two main aspects of the essay, as we learned from the above definition, include the fact that essays are always written on a particular subject and they are descriptive, logical, and methodical. Essays are written by students at any level in the academic field, educationalists, writers and journalists, and many more professionals when the occasion calls upon it.

Types of Essays

There is a wide variety of essays which are used at a number of contexts and backgrounds to serve many purposes by which the types of essays are determined. Learning all these types may benefit a writer in choosing the most appropriate type of essay to be written at any particular occasion to make a certain point he/she wants to, in the best way. Expository essays are explanations of something whereas persuasive essays argue for one side of the two or more discussed aspects of something. A narrative essay presents a description of something while a critical essay argues for an objective analysis of a given subject matter and then narrows the argument down to one point. Further, admission essays, college essays, and scholarship essays serve as an entry requirement to enter to schools, colleges, and apply for scholarships.

Styles and Formats of Essays

Writing different types of essays requires styles and formats significantly different from one another. Knowing such styles and incorporating them appropriately in the essay would definitely come in handy. One style would be ‘cause and effect’ essay where the causes of something are carefully and methodically outlined to their effects, respectively. This kind of essays is organized either in chronological order or emphatic order. Next, in the ‘compare and contrast’ style, all the points are either first compared and later contrasted or comparing and contrasting of each point is done in the same paragraph. These essays are organized emphatically.

What makes up an essay?

Structure: An essay must have a proper structure. The general structure of an essay includes the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

Introduction: The introduction is one paragraph preferably of about five sentences where the topic or the subject matter is introduced and slightly defined.

Length of the Body: The length of the body of the essay is determined by the number of points the writer wishes to include in the essay, and usually one paragraph is assigned to one point. Each paragraph must contain a thesis statement which is a narrow focus which includes your topic and what you plan to bring out in your essay.

Conclusion: Finally, the conclusion may either sum up the general ideas in the essay or may present the writer’s viewpoints, recommendations, and opinion on the subject matter.

How to write an essay?

Writing a good essay requires the following proper procedure.

Research and take notes: Firstly, when an essay topic is given, it is preferable to research the topic and take necessary notes so that you have a clear understanding on and familiar with the subject that you are about to address. Also, this may help you to build your own claim in the essay as you are well aware of the diverse aspects to the subject matter.

How to write an essay

Analyse well-written essays: Secondly, to be better, you can analyse well-written essays to have a view as to how they have been structured and written. See whether the essay supports the writer’s main claim and the flow is maintained throughout. 

Brainstorm Ideas: Thirdly, brainstorming ideas could be done. It is always better to draft your ideas in a proper flow.

Decide thesis statement: Next, decide on your thesis statement. Throughout the writing process, see if the claims match and strengthen the thesis statement.

Plan: Then, plan your essay and write along.

Write a Powerful Conclusion: Conclude the essay with a powerful note matching your main claim.

Revise: Now, revise your essay, re-read, re-write, and re-structure, where necessary.

Concentrate on the words you have selected: do they bring out the exact meaning you wanted them to bring out? See whether the flow is maintained and then proofread the essay and prepare a final version. 

Include references and present your essay.


Photo by: Morten Oddvik  (CC BY 2.0)

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