Writing an essay does not have to be an exercise in torture. Every paper has the same requirements; so once you learn the requirements, you can whip out a paper that will earn a top grade. You simply need to learn the 7 steps and apply them each time you write a paper.
- Step 1: Create a thesis that reflects the prompt.
- Step 2: Write a solid introduction.
- Step 3: Plan the rest of the writing assignment.
- Step 4: Write the topic sentences.
- Step 5: Complete the body paragraphs.
- Step 6: Write the conclusion.
- Step 7: Check your transitions and sentence variety.
The thesis is the most important part of the essay because it guides the entire piece. It is best to work the writing prompt into the thesis so that the reader (especially your instructor) knows that you understand the prompt. For example, if the prompt is asking whether or not students should wear uniforms, your thesis should include the words “school uniforms” and whether or not students should wear them. All too often, students fail to include keywords from the prompt and they have difficulty keeping the paper on topic.
The best introductions include three pieces: a hook, bridge, and thesis. The hook is the clever part of the introduction, where you try to get the reader’s attention. You can do this writing a powerful statement, asking a series of questions, or writing a short anecdote. If you already have the thesis, then you just need to write the bridge, which is a collection of sentences that explain the hook and connect it to the thesis. After the bridge, you place the thesis, so it is the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.
Today, students are overconfident in their writing skills, so they think they can “wing it” by writing without a plan. it is important to decide how you want to organize your essay so it has some logic. By neglecting an organizational plan, you run the risk of your paper not making any sense at all.
There is nothing wrong with writing all of the topic sentences before finishing a full body paragraph. By having the topic sentences written, you will have your essay planned and you can be sure that it flows logically. The topic sentences should all refer back to the thesis, by using words directly from the sentence or using synonyms that are obviously related to the thesis.
Each body paragraph needs to have unique ideas with facts from quality sources. All too often, students try to write their body paragraphs without including any facts from good sources, so their papers read more like editorials than persuasive papers. Good sources are from actual news agencies (not blogs), academic journals, government sites, and educational sites. Students also need to look at the dates of the sources they are using to be sure they are still timely.
Solid writing assignments need proper endings. The conclusion should be crafted like the introduction, but in reverse. This means that it should start with a restatement of the thesis, then move into a bridge that includes the main ideas from the body paragraphs, and then finish with a reconnection to the hook.
In order to write a solid essay that flows nicely, you need to have transitions. Students tend to use simple ones like first, next, and last, but good papers include more complex phrases rather than single words. You can also play with sentence variety to create more flow. You can do this by looking for sentence that all start with the same words and changing them.