School children and parents alike often groan when faced with the dreaded essay format. It can be quite challenging to sit down and produce a quality piece of work. In fact, however, there are some very simple steps that can help in this situation. In this article we review some key tips for mastering the craft of essay writing. They apply to all essay types, and to writers young and old.
Writing The Perfect Essay
6Step One: Think Carefully about the Title
The most important part of an essay, and one that is often forgotten, is its title. Start with the title. Sometimes the title is given, and if so, it is a good idea to write this at the top of the page. This helps you to focus as you work on the essay. Think about the title, and reflect on what it means. If no title is given, then you should think of a memorable phrase, or an issue or question that sparks the interest of the reader. A Day in the Life of xxx; All You Need to Know About yyy; Why the Internet is the Greatest Invention of All Time. These are examples of typical titles, and they all have the advantage of informing the reader of the topic and focus of the essay that is to follow.
5Step Two: Make a Plan
Once the title is clear in your head, you should plan the essay itself in three parts: the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. The introduction should clearly state what the essay is about, and give some idea about its style and scope. If it is a narrative essay (which means it is going to tell a story), set the scene and introduce the characters in the first paragraph. Younger children are often asked to write essays that report what they have done, or describe something they have seen, or imagine what they would like to see in the future. If it is an argumentative essay, then the introduction should set out the intention to solve a problem, or to consider the advantages and disadvantages of something, or the arguments for and against a certain opinion, idea or event. Older children, teens and adults are usually required to write this kind of essay.
The plan should have a draft introduction, which is essential for outlining the whole direction of the essay. It also needs a draft conclusion, which sums up the whole essay, making sure that it addresses the issues or topics raised in the title. It is a good idea to sketch these two sections out quite fully in your plan. The middle section can be in the form of bullet points, listing a few key words and ideas.
4Step Three: Write a Draft
By this stage, you should have a pretty good idea what the shape of the essay is going to look like. You might want to do some research to locate examples that illustrate some key points, or evidence that supports your point of view. Add this to the bullet points. Each bullet point should be expanded into a full paragraph. Write as freely as you can, and use a dictionary to check the meaning and spelling of any words that you are not sure about.
3Step Four: Revise the First Draft
Once the draft is complete, you should re-read it, checking for any grammar or spelling errors. A good tip is to read it aloud to you. Try to avoid sentences that are too long and complex. Aim to be clear. Check that the essay is the right length, according to the instructions or purpose of the essay. Make sure that your essay is neatly presented. If there are errors in the handwriting, then you should write it out again neatly. If it is word-processed, then you should format it correctly and use the spell-check.
2Step Five: Take a Break
Writing is a tiring activity. Take a break for a few hours, or if you have time, leave it overnight. When you come back to check it one last time, it will help to have some distance from the work.
1Step Six: Final check
Your essay is almost finished now. Read it slowly, and make sure that the order of materials is logical. Take out any repetition. Polish a few phrases, and try to make the content more interesting. Trust your instincts. If something does not look quite right, it probably needs revision.
Finally, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect essay. Your job is to write a good essay, and to get better and better, every time you write. If you follow these simple steps, you will surely master the craft of essay writing.