An essay is a written piece of work that is used to explain a topic to an audience. The word essay has multiple meanings. One meaning is “a short piece of writing on a specific topic” and another meaning is “an attempt, try, or effort”.
As Jordan Peterson so rightly puts it, an essay can thus be defined as:
“…a short piece written by someone attempting to explore a topic or answer a question.”
An essay is also a pursuit of dispensing information and knowledge in a well-formatted and well-presented manner. However, formatting alone is not sufficient for writing a good essay, although it is necessary.
In this article, we will teach you how to create a great essay. We will also go over some important aspects of essay writing. After reading and acting upon the advice in this article, you will at the very least be able to pass your assignments with an average or better-than-average grade.
- Keep a Logical Progression
One of the most important things to consider when writing an essay is to keep everything coherent and understandable. Writing is a means of communication after all, and for it be to effective, it has to have the aforementioned qualities.
So, to ensure that your essay is not an incoherent mess, you have to follow a logical progression. Now, what we are going to discuss from this point onwards, is not a hard and fast rule, but it works well most of the time. You should only attempt to deviate from the rules when you are more confident and have a better grip on essay writing. Until then, you should stick with what we are going to tell you now.
There are multiple levels of writing. The most basic levels are as follows:
- Choosing words
- Forming a sentence with words while focusing on correct placement
- Creating a paragraph with sentences.
- Stringing paragraphs to create the essay
There are other things to keep in mind as well, but we will check them out later. For now, just keep the following information in mind. Focus on writing around a hundred words in a paragraph. Each paragraph must only discuss one idea. And each paragraph should build towards the next one.
- Keep your audience in Perspective
As we mentioned before, there are multiple levels in writing an essay, the first four being related to using words, sentences, paragraphs, and finally, the entire essay.
There are other levels beyond this that relate to your (the writer’s) environment and the context in which your essay is supposed to be interpreted. To be specific, it is the cultural environment we are talking about here.
When writing an essay, you have to keep in mind the context and cultural background of both yourself and the audience whom you are addressing. If you do not keep the audience in mind, then your essay will be a poor one. Because it does not even attempt to explain anything to the people it is addressed to.
You have to portray your opinions and facts in a way that the audience can understand what you are saying. That’s why you need to research the people you are writing for, as that will give you that information.
- Choose Topics that are Personally Interesting to You
When you sit down to write an essay, do so only when the topic is interesting to you. If it is interesting, then it is very likely, that it is interesting to your audience as well. On the other hand, the same will happen if you pick a boring topic.
There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that if you find your topic boring, you will not write well. Your writing will reflect your boredom and that will be painfully apparent to your readers. Your boredom will infect them and make them bored with the essay. That ultimately means that your essay is bad and poorly written.
However, boredom can be staved off in a few ways. If your topic is not to your liking, or you had no choice in the matter and a topic was assigned to you, do the following things to prevent feeling bored.
- Approach the topic from the correct state of mind–strive to create something of value, and do not think of it as a burden to be gotten rid of.
- Pose the topic as a list of questions, which ones call out to you? If you feel the need to answer even one of these questions and find its answer, then that is the way you must approach the essay.
- However, do not get hung up on perfection, do finish what you write, even if it is substandard according to your analysis.
Most topics can be made interesting by posing them as questions and taking them seriously. And by trying to create something valuable and beautiful.
- Read Up Before You start writing
Poor writing can be due to the result of various things, as we have already seen. One of the most important things is a lack of reading or a lack of information.
If you do not have enough information, then you will be unable to write a paragraph that is big enough. If you remember the heading of the “Logical Progression”, we stated that a paragraph should have around 100 words.
If you fail to meet that word limit, then it means you lack information. Similarly, if you are feeling bored when writing about a topic, it is very likely, that you do not have enough information. A lack of information also results in writer’s block.
All of the issues that we have just mentioned can be dealt with by reading about the topic. Reading will give you more information, give you more perspective and broaden your vision.
Read until you feel satisfied, and all of your new information as well as your broader perspective will improve the level of your essay. It will become more interesting to write and that will also be apparent to the readers. This will make the readers more appreciative of your essay as well.
- Follow All Formatting Conventions and Other Guidelines
Of course, an important aspect of writing an essay is the rules and conventions followed by the publisher or the institute you are writing for.
If you are a student, then these guidelines will be provided by your teacher/professor. You have to follow these guidelines to a T. Things a guideline can instruct you about are:
- Heading styles
- Bullet styles
- Font size
- Word limit for each heading
- Requirements for citations and quotes
These are just some things that may be present in a guideline. You have to conform to them to ensure that your essay is received well. If you do not follow the guidelines, then it will result in points being taken off for non-compliance.
Some institutes may require handwritten essays. In that case, there may be no restrictions related to font size, and style. However, you will still need to follow all the other formatting conventions such as heading size, numbering or lists, and bullets and length of given sections.
- Check for Plagiarism
When all is said and done, you have to check your work for a variety of mistakes. There are standard mistakes such as grammar mistakes, incorrect spelling, typos, and inconsistent tenses.
However, these are all easily caught and rectified by proofreading. The real issue is accidental and coincidental plagiarism. It can seep into your essay unannounced, and it will harm your essay.
So, it is necessary to check for plagiarism to avoid any issues later on. A plagiarized essay can be rejected or even awarded a zero which is a terrible outcome. So, you need to make sure that you are using a plagiarism checker to detect all instances of duplication in your essay.
Why a plagiarism checker? Because, it is much easier to catch plagiarism accurately and efficiently with an automated tool, instead of doing it manually. So, save yourself a lot of headaches and check for plagiarism with a tool.
The best thing to do after checking for plagiarism is to either:
- edit the duplicated parts
- or simply remove them
This way, your essay will have no semblance of being copied, and come off as completely unique.
- Edit for Clarity and Brevity
Writing an essay is not just about writing the essay well. The first draft of your essay just needs to get your points across, however poorly they may be articulated. Polishing the essay comes later. Editing and writing should not be done together as that is very time-consuming and actively hampers your progress.
So, this tip is for the editing phase. In this phase, you do things like cut away the fluff and decide what ideas are worth keeping and which aren’t. You also have to check for things such as:
- Poor sentence formation
- Incorrect placement of information
- Difficult sentences and words
- Run-on sentences
These things ruin the readability of your essay and make it difficult to understand. Thus, you need to edit them for clarity and brevity. One of the best approaches for doing this is to paraphrase the problematic parts.
You can make things easy for yourself here by opting to paraphrase online instead of doing it manually. An online paraphrasing tool (especially one utilizing AI) is excellent for improving the clarity of your essay.
It can replace all words and phrases that are difficult to read/understand with more suitable synonyms. This makes your essay much more understandable and readable. They are simple to use as well, just check out any top-ranking paraphraser and see if it helps you or not.
This was by no means a complete guide to writing an essay. However, it does provide enough information that you can get started and do a reasonably good job.
As is the case with most things, you need to practice a lot until you start being consistently good. If you found this too difficult to practice, then you can read this article on essay writing services to find a good alternative.
Hopefully, this article was helpful for you and your essay-writing endeavors.