Essay Writing

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The Essay Writing Process

In Greek legend, the goddess of wisdom, Athena, was born fully armed from the head of Zeus. Unfortunately, this is the only recorded instance of instant wisdom. Especially in the medium of the written word, the communication of complex ideas is a process—a process that requires thinking and rethinking, working and reworking. The student who claims to have dashed off an 'A' essay at one in the morning the night before it was due is either a liar or a genius.

This document has been formulated to assist you in learning to write effective, intelligent essays. It is divided into the following parts:

PART I: Types of Essays
PART II: Developing a Thesis from a Topic
PART III: Introductions
PART IV: The Body Paragraphs
PART V: The Rebuttal
PART VI: The Conclusion
PART VII: Writing an Exam Essay
PART VIII: Stylistic Considerations
PART IX: Sentence and Paragraph Structure
PART X: Sample Essays
PART XI: Using Quotations
PART XII: Sample Essay Template

PART I: Types of Essays

The Expository Essay
The function of the expository essay is to explain, or to acquaint your reader with a body of knowledge. By explaining a topic to the reader, you are demonstrating your own knowledge. For example, if you are asked to write an essay about taming dragons, you decide what you plan to concentrate on, create a paragraph structure, and describe the process step by step. An essay becomes more complicated when a position has to be defended, as in a persuasive essay. The Persuasive Essay

The persuasive essay must choose a side, make a case for it, consider and refute alternative arguments, and prove to the undecided reader that the opinion it presents is the best one. You must be aware of other sides and be fair to them; dismissing them completely will weaken your own argument. It is always best to take a side that you believe in, preferably with the most supporting evidence. It can often be educational to adopt a different position from what you might normally choose (debating requires this kind of flexibility). The Informal Essay

The informal essay is written mainly for enjoyment. This is not to say that it cannot be informative or persuasive; however, it is less a formal statement than a relaxed expression of opinion, observation, humour or pleasure. A good informal essay has a relaxed style but retains a strong structure, though that structure may be less rigid than in a formal paper. The informal essay tends to be more personal than the formal, even though both may express subjective opinions. In a formal essay the writer is a silent presence behind the words, while in an informal essay the writer is speaking directly to the reader in a conversational style. If you are writing informally, try to maintain a sense of your own personality. Do not worry about sounding academic, but avoid sloppiness. The Review

A review may be either formal or informal, depending on the context. Its goal is to evaluate a work, which implies that the reviewer's personal opinion plays a significant role in the process. However, a certain objective standard needs to be maintained and, as in a persuasive essay, your assertions need to be proved. The formality of the review will be determined by how much of the essay is analysis, how much is summary, and how much is your reaction to the work you are reviewing. A more formal review will not only discuss the work on its own merits but also place it in context. Newspapers and popular magazines tend to review in terms of finance: is this record or film worth spending money on? Critical journals will attempt to determine whether a new novel or play has achieved something new and significant. A good review will discuss both the qualities and the importance of a given work. The Research Essay

The research essay leads you into the works of others and asks you to compare their...
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