Essays can have many different purposes. Whether you are persuading or arguing, presenting a particular point of view, summarizing the points of another text, evaluating, analyzing, investigating (researching a thesis or dissertation) or simply telling a story (narrating), the basic structure is always the same. It is a process and by recognizing the steps that are involved you will find that the essay will almost write itself – almost, that is, as long as you remain focused on the process. Essays are no different from any other document, letters or reports for example, in that they consist of an opening (an introduction), a middle (body) and a closing section (conclusion).
First you need to decide on your topic and write down your main statement. Next, write an outline of the main points you want to cover and then, under each of the main points list the sub-points. Under the sub-points write down what you wish to say about those items. Once you have done this, by looking at what you have written – from sub-points up through the main points, to the main statement – you will see that you have a clear and logical structure to your essay. Think of it as painting a picture. If you have followed the process, then at this stage filling in the details should happen easily and naturally.
When your draft is completed, it is time to edit your work to maximize its impact and ensure that you have effectively expressed your thoughts. Read it through, revise and correct it where necessary. It is at this point that you will probably realize there are some problems – there always are, even the most professional writers need to edit their essays. You have done the research, explored the theme, and drafted your document, but it still reads like a series of points rather than the coherent and fluid paper you were hoping for. Maybe some sentences are awkward, word choices may not be the best, and transitions from one point to the next are a bit bumpy – and you have no idea how...
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