You might have heard it from your friends or from academic gurus, who like to come up with new ideas. But the truth is that essay writing has always been a tough nut to crack. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert in any subject or if you have already written tons of essays earlier. The fear of rejection and the pressure of being perfect is common among all writers. We won’t lie – writing an essay on almost any topic of your choice can be challenging.
You need to cover substantial ground in a limited amount of space, which means every word counts. This isn’t your typical book report assignment where you just summarize everything and leave it at that. If you want to succeed, you need to not only understand the prompt but also show your understanding of the text by providing insight that makes your voice stand out from everyone else’s in the class who wrote about the same book. So let’s get started! Here are some helpful tips for writing an essay:
Make a plan before you start writing the topic of your choice
When you have a clear idea of what you want to say, you can focus your efforts on communicating that idea. Start by taking a few minutes to think about the prompt. You’ve already read it, but now you need to think about what it’s asking you to do. What’s the professor trying to find out? What do you need to do to prove that you have the skills needed to earn a high grade?
Let’s say you’ve been assigned to write an essay about the theme of love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The prompt might say something like the following: “Explain the theme of love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from your perspective.” The key words here are “theme of love,” “your perspective,” and “explain.” These words tell you what you need to focus on.
They give you guidelines for organizing your thoughts and writing your essay. They help you focus on the most important point you want to make. They help you avoid getting sidetracked by unimportant details.
Importance of Key Words
The keywords also tell you how to organize your thoughts and write your essay. They give you a structure that will allow you to get from point A to point B. In this case, the professor is asking you to explain the theme of love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from your perspective. He’s also asking you to do it from your perspective.
If he had said something like “explain the theme of love in Romeo and Juliet through someone else’s perspective,” then he would have been asking you to explain the theme of love through someone else’s perspective. That would be different because it would mean explaining the theme of love through another person’s unique perspective. You wouldn’t have a way of knowing what that person was seeing or thinking when she explained the theme of love in Romeo and Juliet, but you could still write a good essay by conveying her unique experience with it.
The keywords also tell you how long they want your essay to be. In this case, they want it to be two pages long. This tells you that they want an essay that is 1,000 words long (two pages x 500 words per page). The professor wants an essay that is about 5,000–6,000 words long (1,000 words x 3 pages x 2). As I mentioned earlier, when writing about something outside your field of expertise, keep in mind that most professors expect students who are
Read the prompt carefully
Are you sure you have read the prompt carefully? It’s easy to skim a prompt and then jump right into writing an essay without understanding what you are supposed to do. If you don’t read the prompt carefully, you could end up writing an essay that doesn’t answer the prompt. What if you misunderstood the prompt? What if you didn’t read the question but just glanced over it? What if you think you know the prompt but don’t know it?
Read it more than once if you have to. Read it out loud if you can. If you are still not sure what you are supposed to do, talk to your teacher. Ask if you can have some extra time to read and understand the prompt. If it’s a test or a midterm, you may not be able to ask for time. But if the professor is willing to work with you, find out what you need to do to answer the prompt.
The best questions are open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions can be asked in many different ways. For example: What is your favorite movie of all time? Why did you choose that movie? You could even ask: What are your favorite movies of all time? Why do you like those movies so much?
Asking these types of questions helps you show that you have read the prompt and that you understand what the professor wants from your essay. Read the prompt carefully and think about how this question would be answered by someone who was not familiar with the topic. Does your answer the question? Are there any other alternatives to this answer that might be better?
If so, how would they differ from your original response? Think about other possible answers as well as possible ways to explain why they are better than yours. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to write an essay, but you need to think about what good writing looks like when writing about something outside your field of expertise (in other words, do not just follow a formula).
Find and use your voice
We all have a distinct voice, which is our way of thinking and speaking. This is what makes you unique from everyone else. It is your ideas, your thoughts, and your words, which are different from anyone else’s. When you write a paper for a class, it is important to use your voice and write in your style. Find those specific details that make your paper unique.
What makes your paper different from everyone else’s? What unique ideas do you bring to the table? What special thought do you want to express? Make your paper stand out. Make your paper memorable. Be careful not to plagiarize. Plagiarism is the use of another person’s ideas, words, or expressions without giving credit to the author or source.
This is a serious academic offense that can result in a failing grade or even a failing grade, expulsion, or suspension. If you are not sure how to avoid plagiarizing while using your voice, you can ask your teacher for tips.
Don’t be intimidated by big words or concepts
Some people think that writing essays mean talking like a scholar, using big words and complex phrases. But that’s not true at all. You don’t have to use a lot of fancy words to impress your teacher. If you overdo it, you might just end up confusing your reader, which is the last thing you want.
For example, if you are writing about “The Great Gatsby,” you don’t need to come up with a fancy thesis such as the following: “Throughout his novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald unquestionably elucidates that the cost of the American Dream is a shallow, albeit alluring, life.” Instead, a straightforward thesis such as the following would work just as well: “The Great Gatsby is about how the pursuit of money and a luxurious lifestyle can be very shallow and meaningless.”
Be clear and to the point, but don’t be boring
Yes, you need to be clear and to the point to impress your reader, but don’t be boring. Boring writing usually means that the writer has only focused on the facts, has failed to explain his or her point of view, and has left out any interesting details. While you should always keep the focus on the prompt and the information that you need to include to address that prompt, you also need to spice it up with your personality. You need to show your reader that you have thought about the topic and that you have something interesting to say.
Have a trusted friend or teacher read it before handing it in
One of the most important things you can do before handing in your essay is to have it read and edited by a trusted friend or teacher. This person should be someone who has excellent written communication skills and who is familiar with your field of study. This person should be able to spot any grammatical, spelling, or factual errors as well as offer constructive criticism.
If you are lucky enough to have a friend or teacher who is willing to read and edit your essay, then don’t waste the opportunity. Take advantage of it and make the necessary changes to turn your essay into a work of perfection.
The Bottom Line
Writing an essay is a challenging task, but with proper research, organization, and writing skills, you can ace it. Make sure to follow these helpful tips, and you can be sure that your essay will be on point and well received.