The Secrets Of Writing An Effective Essay

Despite what most students tasked with writing an essay may tell you, writing is not about proving knowledge on a topic or impressing your instructor. Essay writing is about deepening the writer’s thinking and contributing to a larger body of knowledge on a subject. The process of coming up with a question, researching that question, and then synthesizing and applying that research is what will prove one’s knowledge of a topic and impress their instructor. With this understanding of an essay’s purpose, let’s explore the process of crafting an essay that’s actually worth writing as well as reading.

The first component of a good essay is a strong thesis statement; it’s the central pillar of any essay. A thesis statement is an opinion of the writer’s that they are going to prove throughout the course of the essay (“How to Write a Thesis Statement to Make It Clear”). The writer has to have a firm understanding of the topic to form a worthwhile opinion and should start by researching as broadly as possible. The goal of this initial research phase is to develop a sense of what’s most important and relevant to the topic and what isn’t. The writer then needs to start asking themselves questions about the topic. Eventually, one of their questions won’t have been clearly answered in the existing body of knowledge. If the question is interesting, and they believe that they have an answer to it, then that proposed answer to that interesting question is their thesis statement.

Once a thesis statement is found, an outline needs to be written. Think of the outline of an essay as its skeleton. Here, the writer will lay out the basics of the question they are answering, the components of their answer to this question, and the reasons that they believe all of these components, and therefore their answer, to be true. The individual points should be laid out in a logical order that causes each point to flow into the next, building on each other to create a cohesive argument for the thesis (“The Importance of Outlining”). Once the outline is finished, a write-up needs to be done. This portion is simply adding flesh to the outline’s skeleton. In exactly the order and form that is laid out in the outline, write out the points on your outline as complete paragraphs. It’s okay to be a bit reckless at this point. The editing process, which will be gone over next, will take care of any errors that were made in the write-up process.

Now that we have a fully written document, centered around a strong thesis and structured according to a well-designed outline, the essay needs to be gone over with a fine-toothed comb to be considered a finished product. The writer should wait one or two days before editing, and go into the editing process with fresh eyes. This allows the writer to forget some of the finer details of their writing, and notice previously missed errors. Besides basic misspellings and typos, this is also the time to go back over the logical structure of your essay, Look at your essay through a hierarchical lens, going from the word, to the sentence, to the paragraph, to the entire essay, making sure that each level serves the purpose of the next layer up (Peterson 6 – 8). Once you have done this, the essay should be condensed back into an outline, and the write-up and editing process should be repeated until the essay is polished and complete (Peterson 17 – 21).

While the biggest contributor to the quality of an essay will ultimately be the time, effort, and energy that a writer puts into it, this process will guarantee that the author gets the most out of the resources that they put in. By going through this process of discovery, basic structuring, fleshing out, and then refining, writers can consistently generate valuable contributions to any field that they may choose to dig into.

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