This means you want to essentially draw the skeleton of your paper. Writing an outline can help to ensure your paper is logical, well organized and flows properly. Start by writing the thesis at the top and then write a topic sentence for each paragraph below.
This means you should know exactly what each of your paragraphs are going to be about before you write them. Don't jumble too many ideas in each paragraph or the reader may become confused.
You also want to ensure you have transitions between paragraphs so the reader understands how the paper flows from one idea to the next.
Fill in facts from your research under each paragraph which you want to write about when you write the essay. Make sure each paragraph ties back in to your thesis and creates a cohesive, understandable essay. Write and Edit Once you have an outline, its time to start writing. Write from the outline itself, fleshing out your basic skeleton to create a whole, cohesive and clear essay. A generic structure that you may find useful is: brief recap of what you have covered in relation to the essay title; reference to the larger issue; evaluation of the main arguments; highlighting the most important aspects.
The example below relates to the essay title used on the previous page. Brief recap The characters of Macbeth and Faustus are very similar in many respects; for example they both willingly follow a path that leads to their damnation.
Evaluation of the main arguments As has been shown, the character of Macbeth has a nadir from which he ascends at the conclusion of the play. For Faustus however, there is no such ascension.
This fits with the style of the morality play: the erring Faustus must be seen to be humbled at his end for the morality to be effective… Highlighting the most important aspects It is this strong element of morality in Dr Faustus that ultimately divides the two leading characters. Questions to ask of your introduction and conclusion may be useful.
The study guide What is critical writing? With critical writing, you are doing work with the evidence you are using, by adding a level of examination and evaluation. Questions to ask about your level of critical writing may be useful. Another useful tool to support critical writing is the paragraph! Aim to present one idea per paragraph. Editing Finally, you need to take a break from your essay so that you can return to it with fresh eyes for the final editing.
They are absolutely crucial because it is only at this stage that the student can see that the argument hangs together, has a sequence and is well-expressed.
Editing is both difficult and important. Also, criticising your writing tends to be easier than creating it in the first place. The study guide: The art of editing and the sheet: Questions to ask when editing may be useful. Presentation A tutor can learn a worrying amount about the quality of your essay simply from how it looks on the page.
The lengths of paragraphs; the lengths of sentences; the neatness of the reference list; the balance of length between different sections; all offer insight into the kind of essay they are about to read. Shorter words are often preferable to longer words, unless there is some specific vocabulary that you need to include to demonstrate your skill.
Short to middle length sentences are almost always preferable to longer ones. And over-long paragraphs tend to demonstrate that you are not clear about the specific points you are making. Of course, these are general points, and there may be some occasions, or some subject areas, where long paragraphs are appropriate. Accurate grammar and spelling are important.
Consistently poor grammar or spelling can give the impression of lack of care, and lack of clarity of thought. Careless use of commas can actually change the meaning of a sentence. It can be hard to summarize the full richness of a given example in just a few lines so make them count. If you are trying to explain why George Washington is a great example of a strong leader, for instance, his childhood adventure with the cherry tree though interesting in another essay should probably be skipped over.
A Word on Transitions You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: the first few words. These words are example of a transitional phrase — others include "furthermore," "moreover," but also "by contrast" and "on the other hand" — and are the hallmark of good writing.
Transitional phrases are useful for showing the reader where one section ends and another begins. It may be helpful to see them as the written equivalent of the kinds of spoken cues used in formal speeches that signal the end of one set of ideas and the beginning of another. In essence, they lead the reader from one section of the paragraph of another. To further illustrate this, consider the second body paragraph of our example essay: In a similar way, we are all like Edison in our own way.
Whenever we learn a new skill - be it riding a bike, driving a car, or cooking a cake - we learn from our mistakes. Few, if any, are ready to go from training wheels to a marathon in a single day but these early experiences these so-called mistakes can help us improve our performance over time.
You cannot make a cake without breaking a few eggs and, likewise, we learn by doing and doing inevitably means making mistakes. Hopefully this example not only provides another example of an effective body paragraph but also illustrates how transitional phrases can be used to distinguish between them. The Conclusion Although the conclusion paragraph comes at the end of your essay it should not be seen as an afterthought.
Gotta love a good transition. Paragraph Two From this point onward, you kinda rinse and repeat. That is, in your second body paragraph, you use a reverse hook and then present your second strongest argument, second most significant example, second smartest point… you get the picture. A transition! By now this should all be becoming crystal clear.
Let her or him know which direction is being taken and the reasons why. Once the main points have been identified you need to consider in which order they will be examined. Students often do not make the most of the good ideas they have because they get lost if the argument does not develop coherently. Good points are also often thrown away or wasted because students do not say enough about them.
Make sure the relevance of each point to the main argument is clearly stated and demonstrated. You should dwell and linger on the points: often this requires no more than two or three extra sentences, particularly if your writing is concise and focused. A good essay takes time to prepare and write, so start to think about it and do the groundwork well ahead of the essay deadline even in timed conditions, such as exams, it is important to take the time to organise and structure the essay before starting to write.
You will probably find that you need to work out your ideas on paper before writing the essay, and are encouraged to prepare an outline of the essay: a point by point series of key words, phrases and ideas. This will help you to organise the structure and to recognise what is relevant and irrelevant to the essay as a whole. Some people find that a plan or outline will consist of eight to ten words only. Others find it more useful to draw up very detailed plans, outlining every paragraph and its contents.
Again you will discover which method works for you as you go along. Some students find it easier to think and plan the essay point by point before beginning to write, whilst others find that after some initial preparation, reading, organisation and thinking they can only develop their ideas through writing. Both these approaches take time, if the essays are to be done well.
It should be stressed here that the first plan does not have to be binding and may change as the work begins and develops. The main point here is that essays involve a certain amount of planning and preparation even before the actual writing begins. Having emphasised that essays are hard work and take time it should also be stressed that it can be very stimulating and rewarding to work through a number of ideas in depth and detail.
Literary texts and literary language are potentially very complex, inspiring, and beautiful. The ideas and images often demand careful thought and attention. Computers are essential in terms of using the time you spend on an essay efficiently and productively.
As stated earlier, good essay writing demands time spent on every stage of the process: reading and research, making an outline, ordering and structuring your ideas, writing and changing various drafts, and final editing and presentation.
With this in mind it cannot be stressed enough how important it is for you to learn word-processing skills and to make sure you have access to a computer. Use the university resources. Admittedly the space available is limited at times but this is no excuse not to learn the skills, if you do not already possess them, and to find out where there are available computer terminals. Of course if you use university resources it is even more important to start your essay early in order to avoid the last minute rush as most students, not only from this department, search for terminals in a panic on the Friday before a Monday deadline.
It is appreciated that students are very busy and do have a lot of work, but it is a mistake to claim, as some students have been heard, that they are too busy to learn word-processing skills. Ultimately word-processing will save you a lot of time. It is far easier to add and delete material, and to restructure and reorganise essays by moving material around, on a computer than if you are writing by hand.
Software has become really user-friendly; 'Word', for instance, will tell you what to do in explicit English or French, and typing skills can be learned whilst typing. Your essay will be the representation of an argument on a given subject or subjects.
It will include only points which are relevant to the subject, so be careful to get rid of material that is not directly relevant. Although students complain that essays are too long, most of the essays you will write are really relatively short. Part of the skill of writing is to write concisely and economically, without wasting material or 'padding' the work with irrelevant diversions and repetition.
Once the points have been chosen they should be presented logically and coherently, so do not leap about from point to point. Each point generally will have some connection to the preceding one and the one to follow.
A thesis statement 1 tells the reader what the essay is about and 2 what points you'll be making. These words are example of a transitional phrase — others include "furthermore," "moreover," but also "by contrast" and "on the other hand" — and are the hallmark of good writing. Alternatively, you may partly agree or partly disagree with the statements or questions raised by the title, or by questions raised directly in responding to the title.
Creating a diagram or outline allows you to put pen to paper and start organizing your ideas. Some people prefer and work better with the flowing structure of a diagram. Take some time to consider, contrast and weight your options. Realistically, it is possible that they may even decide not to make that effort. All share three common factors -- an Introduction, Body and Conclusion. You want to: Revise for clarity, consistency and structure.
Writing is deliberate, disciplined and focused. See Example 1 at the end of this guide. For proof of this, consider examples from both science and everyday experience. For example, your thesis might be "Dogs are descended from wolves. The good writer, in fact, having mastered the opening and closing strategies, will be able to use a combination of opening and closing strategies when writing. The essay structure is not an end in itself, but a means to an end: the end is the quality of the argument.
As he himself said, "I did not fail a thousand times but instead succeeded in finding a thousand ways it would not work. A Word on Transitions You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: the first few words. Again, the last sentence of both the third and fourth paragraphs should sum up what you've discussed in each paragraph and indicate to the reader that the paragraph contains the final supporting argument. The concluding sentence should sum up what you've discussed in the paragraph.
With critical writing, you are doing work with the evidence you are using, by adding a level of examination and evaluation.