Tips for Writing Essays

Tips for Writing Essays
Writing essays can seem like a big project. You have to come up with an idea, formulate a thesis, get your thoughts down on paper, edit and create a cohesive final project that sounds good and has a point. There is a lot that goes in to writing a successful essay; so much so, that sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, these tips for writing essays can help you along the way and get you on the path to An A+ grade (or at least a well written essay).
You cannot write an essay unless you have an idea of what to write about. There are a number of ways to come up with great essay ideas. You can brainstorm, which simply involves sitting down with a piece of paper and writing about anything that comes to your head. Start with a general topic. Your teacher may give you a topic, or it may be a free form essay and you will have to formulate the topic on your own. Then, think about that topic and write anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or even whether the idea will make a good essay or not. All of that will come later.You could also use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm and come up with an essay idea. This involves writing your topic or idea in the center of the paper and creating bubbles (clouds or clusters) of related ideas around it. This can be a great way to develop a topic more deeply and to recognize connections between various facets of your topic.

Pick a Topic

Once you have a list of possible topics, its time to choose the best one that will answer the question posed for your essay. You want to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow.If you are given an assignment to write a one page essay, it would be far too much to write about “the history of the US” since that could fill entire books. Instead, you could write about a very specific event within the history of the United States: perhaps signing the declaration of independence or when Columbus discovered the U.S.While you don’t want to be too broad, you also don’t want to be too narrow. Make sure that you have enough to write about on your topic and that it is something you are interested in. You don’t want to write about, for example, the pen used to sign the declaration of independence because it might be too hard to fill two pages on that (unless you really love pens!)


Some essays will require you to do research. Others will not. If you need to find more information or sources, you should do this before you get too involved in writing an essay, as your research may shape what you have written.

Outline

An outline can be a great way to help you structure and organize your essay. You will want to make sure you have a clear plan for what your essay is about. This should be able to be summed up in one sentence, called the “thesis” sentence. The thesis is the essence of what your paper is about.Each of your paragraphs must support your thesis. You want each paragraph to be a single cohesive unit that makes one argument or provides one piece of information that adds to your thesis. 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.Writing an outline can help to ensure your paper is logical, well organized and flows properly. You can write the topic sentence of each paragraph on your outline and specify a bit about what you intend that paragraph to include. That way, when you sit down to actually write your essay, you will know just what you plan to say.

Write a Draft

Some writers can sit down and produce a perfect first copy. Those writers are few and far between! Many essays require one or more drafts to become perfect, so be prepared to have a lot of mistakes in your first copy. Write from your outline and try to get all of your ideas on paper. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect; you can go back and edit later.

Edit and Revise

When your revise your paper, you want to revise for clarity, consistency and structure. Make sure everything flows together and that you support your thesis adequately with the information in your paragraphs. Make sure you have a strong introduction and conclusion so the reader comes away knowing exactly what your paper was about.You will also want to revise for technical errors. Check for grammar problems, punctuation and spelling errors. You cannot always count on spell check to recognize every spelling error as sometimes you can spell a word incorrectly but your misspelling will also be a word, such as spelling from as form.

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