Essay writing is one of the most common forms of assignments given to students studying any language in high school and college. Chances are that you will write a lot of different essay types during the entire course of your study. Essay writing is also an essential skill required to help you successfully navigate the corporate and business world.
As you can see, essay writing plays a key role in your life as a student. I suggest you study this guide until the end because, at the end of this guide, you should:
- Know what an essay is.
- Understand and differentiate the different essay types.
- Know how to properly outline your essay using the classic five-paragraph structure.
- Understand what a thesis statement is and how to write one.
- Learn all the distinct steps involved in an effective writing process.
- Learn how to write an amazing essay as soon as you have completed the guide.
What is an essay?
An essay is a focused piece of writing that expresses an argument or information from the writer’s perspective. Essays can be formal or informal. However, one thing is certain about essays, and that is that they always follow a clear structure. There are different essay types, it will be helpful to know each of them.
Types of Essay.
There are four main types of essays: Argumentative, Descriptive, Expository, and Narrative.
An argumentative essay is an essay that you write logically using sufficient facts to convince your reader to view an idea in a certain way. While writing an argumentative essay, you will introduce evidence-based arguments and counterarguments about controversial topics. This will help support your thesis and persuade your reader to view the topic or idea from your perspective. Argumentative essays are very similar to another essay type: persuasive essays. Unfortunately, we won’t be writing about persuasive essays in this article.
A descriptive essay is an essay that you write to illustrate something using clear sensory details. This can be an event, character, person, situation, etc. Descriptive essays involve storytelling using as many sensory details as you can so that your reader has a vivid understanding of what you are describing. Descriptive essays are very similar to narrative essays.
An expository essay is a fact-based essay you write to inform your reader about a topic, by expressing a balanced view of that topic. Expository essays take several forms, for example cause-and-effect analysis, comparison and contrast, etc. Expository essays are commonly assigned to high school and college students during short evaluations and/or examinations. The aim of this essay type is to inform the reader about the topic. Expository essays do not require as much in-depth research as argumentative essays.
Narrative essays are essays you write in a sequential format to inform your readers about your story or to retell the story of someone else to share a lesson. It is a personal and creative essay type, unlike other forms of academic essays. You can write a narrative essay while applying for college admissions, during an autobiography, or as an assignment. At the end of a narrative essay, your reader should learn a lesson and draw conclusions from your story.
To ensure that your essay impresses your teacher or professor, it is highly advisable that you write in a logical format. Next, we will introduce a simple structure to help write a good essay.
How You Can Write an Essay using an Essay Structure
The goal of your essay, regardless of the type, is to help your reader properly understand your topic. To achieve this, I suggest you write your essay using an outline or structure. There are several outlines available to assist you in organizing your essay. However, the most popular is the five-paragraph essay structure.
The five-paragraph essay structure comprises three parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.
This is the first paragraph of your essay that sets the tone for the rest of the essay. Here, you introduce the topic of your essay and briefly summarise the main point of your essay. Your introduction should contain these three items:
An opening hook:
This is the first sentence of your essay. The aim of your hook is to introduce the essay topic in an intriguing way that captures the attention of your reader and makes them desire to read the rest of your essay. Here are four simple ideas to write a captivating hook:
- Ask an engaging question that your readers can easily relate to.
- Vividly describe a scene that will make your readers desire to read more. This is great for creative essays, like descriptive and narrative essays.
- Share an amusing fact that relates to the topic you are writing about. This will cause your readers to read your essay on a high note.
- Share a quote that applies to the essay topic.
At this stage, you can give some relevant background information about your essay. This information helps to build a relationship between you, the writer, and your readers. In the body of your essay, you will analyze more on the background information that you will provide.
This is the most important statement in your essay. You can see it as the topic sentence of your essay. It is a concise, one or two sentences statement that clearly presents the main point or argument of your essay and shows your position in relation to that point. Every other piece of information in your essay should take its root from your thesis statement.
Use these three steps to help you write a clear thesis statement:
- Choose a topic that you are passionate about. You need to do some research to get a lot of information on the topic you will write about.
- Determine your position regarding the topic. For example, you are writing an essay about the remuneration of football players. Decide on whether you think the remuneration is high. Then, write your thesis statement based on that position. Use the data you got from your research to justify your position.
- Express your topic as a question and try to answer the question. This will give you some insight into how to draft the thesis statement.
- Work on revising and editing the draft so that you can finally have a thesis statement that explicitly presents your topic and states your position.
Body of the Essay
You should have a minimum of three points to support the claim you made in the thesis statement. The body of your essay is where you analyze all these points. You should clarify one idea in each paragraph and avoid jumping from one idea to another. It is typically the longest part of your essay because it contains three out of the five paragraphs in the classic five-paragraph essay structure.
Each paragraph should have these three major components:
- Topic sentence: It is a great idea to begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is the first sentence in your body paragraph that tells readers what the rest of the paragraph is all about.
- Supporting sentences: Remember that the body of your essay is where you provide all data you need to back up your main point. Supporting sentences are written just after the topic sentence to provide backing to the topic sentence. The supporting sentences contain pieces of examples, data from your research, statistics, and every other piece of evidence necessary to support the topic sentence and convince the reader.
- Concluding sentence: A concluding sentence is the last sentence in your body paragraph that helps your reader to conclude one train of thought and prepares him for the next idea in the preceding paragraph. The concluding sentence is a great way to transition between paragraphs.
Recall that the purpose of the body of your essay is to support the thesis statement. Be sure to provide only relevant information. In addition, if you are writing an argumentative essay, include your counterarguments in the body of your essay as they make your argument as strong as possible.
The conclusion is the last paragraph that summarises your essay. To write an exceptional conclusion, I suggest you apply these tips:
- Introduce a topic sentence to your conclusion that expresses the thesis statement. This will remind the reader about the main point of your essay.
- Constantly refer to the introductory paragraph and body paragraphs to reinforce and summarize the points you made in those paragraphs.
- Write a strong closing sentence that leaves a positive impression on your reader.
Now you know how to structure your essay using the five-paragraph structure. Next, I will take you through the steps to writing an essay effectively.
Step-by-step Essay Writing Process
Writing an essay that has a logical flow requires a robust writing process. This section will put you through each step required to help you write your essay. The writing process is a method you can use to outline your essay from conception through brainstorming, down to the final draft.
Step 1: Brainstorming and Outlining
This step is critical to effective essay writing, and you should do this before you start writing your essay. It involves generating and grouping all the ideas you need for your essay. While generating your ideas, you should be able to recognize connections between various facets of your topic. This is useful when you need to group your ideas.
There are three ways to brainstorm and outline ideas for your essay. These are:
- Clustering or mind mapping: This is a great technique for visual learners as it makes generating and grouping ideas easy. Use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm the essay topic and come up with ideas you will need while writing.
- Listing: This technique involves listing every idea you have about the topic you are writing about. It is extremely beneficial for expository essays.
- Freewriting: This technique requires that the writer writes every idea that he has about the topic, not minding the order in which it is written. It is great for descriptive and narrative essays.
You can view your essay outline as the skeleton of your paper because it provides the basic structure you need to write your essay. The classic five-paragraph structure will assist you in developing your outline. Now, you have the ideas you need to begin writing the essay. The next step is the research stage.
Step 2: Research and data gathering
This is a key step in writing an essay. However, it is extremely important when you are writing an argumentative or expository essay because both of them are based mainly on only evidence. Carry out adequate research on the essay you are writing to be sure that you have recent and accurate data.
In addition, ensure that you get your data from reputable sources. Don’t forget to cite your sources using your preferred citation style and be sure to outline the data you gathered while researching your topic.
Step 3: Drafting
Writing your first draft can be the toughest part of the entire writing process. However, try to complete your first draft from start to finish before revising and editing. This is where your outline is extremely beneficial because it will help you know what to write in each paragraph of your essay.
You can also consider handwriting your first draft, as this can create a flow of thought. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you have some time to edit the draft.
Step 4: Revising
This is the stage where you go through your first draft. Watch out for errors in language, formatting, and style. If you can, try to read your essay aloud. This shows how your essay will sound to your readers. It also helps you know how smoothly one paragraph transitions into another.
Rearrange your words, sentences, and paragraphs to ensure that the entire paper is logical and clear. Consider substituting overused words to ensure that everything flows together.
Step 5: Editing and Proofreading
Now that you have revised your draft, it’s time to transform this draft into the final draft. Check your draft for errors in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Reread what you’ve written and replace any unclear word with a more suitable one. Also consider choosing the most appropriate formatting style for your essay: APA, Chicago style, and APA formatting styles.
Consider getting help from someone else or software to proofread your work.
Now that you understand how to write an amazing essay using the writing process, ensure that you study the tips below to ace your next essay paper.
Final Essay Writing Tips
Here are some final tips for writing essays:
- The key to better writing is constant practice. Ensure you practice writing every day because essays are always being assigned to students in most schools or colleges. The more you write, the better you become at it.
- Try to read a lot of good essays because better readers make better writers.
- Every talented writer has a writing style. Be true to your style of writing, especially when writing an essay for college admission.
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You’ve got all you need to write your essay right now. What topic do you intend to write about?