How to write an essay - Best Essay Writing Tips

Essay writing is an art that requires the writer to convert a particular set of ideas into an argument. Since they are linear, essays provide one idea at a time. There should be a continuous flow of ideas to attend to the reader’s logic and to make them understand the argument under discussion.

The thesis statement dictates the information that will be covered and predicts the structure of the essay.

Although there is no set formula, certain classic essay types such as comparative analysis follow specific guidelines.

Before writing an essay, there are five things you should clearly understand which are:

  1. Understand the topic you are covering

  2. Understand the type of essay you are supposed to write

  3. Identify and understand your reader

  4. Familiarize with the essay writing process

  5. Understand the essay structure

Understand the topic

Before writing your essay, there are three main factors you should consider which include: thesis, type, and audience. The thesis is an important component that determines the type of essay and the target audience.

It's important to understand the topic you are supposed to cover. Make sure you understand the objectives the essay is supposed to meet. The topic dictates the language you are going to use and the type of essay you will be required to use.

For instance, an essay on "Compare and Contrast the Congress of Vienna and the Treaty of Versailles" will require the writer to extensively use compare and contrast phrases.

If the goal of the essay is to provide a substantive analysis of a topic, then you will be using the language of an analytical essay.

Resource: How to write a problem and solution essay

Understand the type of essay you are supposed to cover

The type of essay you are supposed to cover is determined by the topic and the objectives you want to meet. There are various types of essays that you are likely to come across which include:

Here are the 10 most popular essays that you can cover:

Persuasive and argumentative essay

Persuasive essay persuades the audience to adopt a particular idea. You are supposed to select a specific topic and support your claims with well-researched information from credible sources.

For argumentative essays, you can just explain why you have chosen a certain point of view on a given topic.

Although it should support the thesis statement with detailed, well-presented arguments, argumentative essays should mention both sides of the thesis statement.

For instance, if you are focusing on the positive side of the story on “should marijuana be legalized in the United States,” you should highlight several reasons why marijuana has not been legalized.

Resources:

A few topics for persuasive/argumentative essay you can cover include:

  • Should marijuana be legalized in the United States?

  • Should young people be allowed in drinking areas?

Critical Essay

This is a type of essay that evaluates and criticizes artistic works, books, films, movies, or speeches, events, scholarly works, and scientific advancements.

A writer is expected to provide engaging and informative content to the audience criticizing whether a book, artistic work, or film managed to convey the message or how well the work was done.

Critical thinking skills are required when tackling this type of essay. You need to think deeply to get the main reason why you are criticizing something. Besides, you need to support your opinion with evidence from credible sources. For instance, when criticizing a portrait, various questions can guide you.

These critical questions include:

  • Do you think the painting was great?

  • What aspects of the painting bothered you?

  • Are there any identifiable faults that bothered you?

  • Do you have evidence to support your claims?

Some topics on critical types of essays that you can write on include:

  • Discuss the ending of the first season of the Marvel series "The Punisher

  • What are the benefits of embracing climate-smart agriculture?

  • Discuss how Napoleon is presented in the War and Peace

Resources:

Descriptive essay

This type of essay provides a detailed overview of a certain situation or topic. It's a common type of essay in high schools, colleges, and universities. Various tips can help you when writing a descriptive essay that include:

  • Brainstorm and describe your feelings in the essay

  • Rely on your senses and use them to express your feelings

  • Use descriptive words such as bright, persistent, tenacious, flexible, luxurious, dynamic, mellow, committed…

Resource: How to write a descriptive essay

Compare and contrast essay

This type of essay provides a critical analysis of the similarities and differences of two events, objects, or things. You are supposed to present a clear comparison of two events or things to the reader. For instance, you can be told to compare and contrast the League of Nations and the United Nations.

At times, a compare and contrast essay might require the writer to compare two things. Also, a writer might be required to contrast two things, providing detailed information on how the two things differ. However, in most cases, both parts might be combined into a single essay, requiring the writer to compare and contrast two things in one essay.

Some examples of compare and contrast essays include:

  • Compare and contrast the Congress of Vienna and the Versailles Treaty

  • What’s better between homemade and restaurant meals?

  • What are the similarities and differences between traditional juicers and modern juicers?

    Resources: How to write a compare and contrast essay

Cause and effect essay

In this type of essay, a situation is presented and supported by thoroughly analyzed results. This type of essay is common in history and literature classes. A cause and effect essay concentrate on how a cause and an effect relate.

A few topics that you can write on include:

  • The causes and effects of World War I

  • The causes and effects of air and water pollution in urban areas

  • The causes and effects of the Cold War

Resource: How to write a compare and contrast essay

Creative essay writing

In this type of essay, you are supposed to choose a topic and merge various styles and ideas to come up with an enticing story. Creative essays require a chronological flow of events that took place at a given period. These essays cover a fictional event that took place. For instance, you can write a creative essay on “the day I will never forget.”

Analytical Essay

This type of essay combines the implementation of personal preferences and critical thinking to provide a detailed analysis of an idea, event, or topic. Although they are slightly similar to descriptive essays, analytical essays are more detailed. They use a descriptive style but have a specific outline. Since they involve classifications, you should strictly follow the detailed format for analytical essays. Various tips can help you when writing analytical essays which include:

  • All paragraphs must be clear and only one category should be mentioned in each category.

  • Identify various categories and mention the advantages and disadvantages for each.

  • You can go beyond the 5-paragraph format if you have more categories to cover. However, your essay should be within the recommended word count.

A few topic suggestions for analytical essays include:

  • Political systems in the United States and Canada

  • Drugs in sports

  • Technological advancements in the biotechnology industry

  • Cultural analysis essay writing

Resources:

Process Essay

This is the type of essay that explains a step-by-step structure of how something happens or how it should be done. Process analysis essay provide detailed instructions that are performed in a specific series. For instance, you can be told to write an essay on “how to make soap” or “how petrol is extracted from crude oil”

When writing process essays, proper transitional words must be used. This helps the reader to understand the process discussion faster. Phrases such as: in the first place, next, in conclusion, initially, after the, and eventually should be used.

Resources:

Expository Essay

This type of essay educates the audience on different ideas or topics. On most occasions, it doesn't use personal opinions and doesn't convince the reader to adopt a certain idea. Since it requires one to research an idea and evaluate the evidence from different sources, expository essays are quite challenging compared to descriptive essays. Ideas must be supported with evidence from credible sources.

Some expository essay topics that you can write on include:

Narrative Essay

Although it’s similar to creative writing, writing a narrative essay follow specific formatting styles to form a story. A continuous flow of ideas or events is required in this essay. Narrative writing is common in high schools, colleges, and universities. In simple terms, narrative writing tells a story about a certain event or activity that took place at a given time. Narrative essays do not require much research since they are personal types of essays. However, unlike creative essays, narrative essays need a point that should be clarifying.

Some suggestions for narrative writing include:

  • A tragic experience that transformed you into the person you are today

  • Your mother’s life journey

  • Your memorable childhood memories

  • The moment you met your life partner

Resource:

Understand your target audience

Before writing down the essay, your final consideration is to understand your target audience. It can be either the admission counsellor, a teacher, a researcher, your peers, or the general public. The targeted audience influences the language you will use regardless of the type of essay you are writing. They influence the style, word choice, and language and determine whether the essay will be casual or formal. Besides, the audience influences how emotions like ultimate confidence and cautiousness are expressed in the essay and affect the tone.

Essay Writing Process – How To

To craft engaging and high quality essays, blog articles about essay writing, poems, screenplays, short stories, term papers, research papers, and dissertations, it’s important to follow an orderly writing system.

An efficient writing process helps you organize your thoughts, prepare, create an outline for the essay, draft your ideas, address all the subtleties, and polish your essay before presenting it to the reader.

When writing your essay, you should consider following the five-step writing process

  1. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a crucial step that helps you gather a wide range of ideas that are based on your thesis or prompt before you begin writing. Generating many thoughts provides a clear image of what should be used in the essay and helps you set aside ideas that won’t fit in the paper.

  1. Preparing

In this phase, you are required to create an outline for your essay and collect adequate information from different resources that should be used in the essay. Next, thoughts that were gathered during the brainstorming phase and ideas collected from different sources are isolated and placed in different categories. They are then organized in a logical and progressive order to ensure a continuous flow of ideas supporting your thesis. The essay structure, contemporary citations, and empirical evidence are incorporated in this step.

  1. Drafting

This is the main stage where the collected ideas, evidence, and intext citations are put into writing. To avoid missing the big picture, ideas should be well-organized in your first draft. Omitted ideas should be included and any errors rectified before getting to the final draft. The fact that there is no specific number of times that you should draft the essay gives you the freedom to make and correct errors within the allocated timeframe.

  1. Revising

This stage involves addressing all the errors and subtleties glossed in the first and subsequent drafts. Catch and rectify common mistakes in the sentence structure such as passive voice, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and wordiness. Be keen on word choice and clarity and revise any use of sophisticated writing techniques.

  1. Proofreading

After completing the main revisions such as correcting sentence fragments and passive voice, your last step should be to proofread your essay to correct minor issues such as grammatical errors, formatting issues, misspellings, punctuation, and technical issues. Check whether proper transitional words are used between paragraphs to ensure a smooth flow of ideas throughout the essay.

Essay structure

As a writer, it is important to understand the outline of an informative essay. Coming up with a well-structured and organized essay is easy although it requires the writer to do extensive research and practice on the outline. The basic essay structure contains three sections which are:

  1. Introduction

  2. Body

  3. Conclusion

Learn more about how to structure an essay.

Introduction

First impressions matter in essay writing. A catchy introduction plays an important role in grabbing the reader’s attention and persuades them to read the entire essay. A good essay introduction must:

  • Contain a hook to grab the reader’s attention;

  • Reveal the thesis statement or the main argument;

  • Provide a brief overview of the main ideas discussed in the essay.

A strong attention-grabber convinces the reader to go through the entire essay. Depending on the target audience and the type of essay, attention-grabbers can either be informative or anecdotal.

The thesis statement of an essay shows the main argument that will be covered in the essay.

Background information on the main argument of the essay enables the reader to understand the essay from a writer’s point of view.

Body paragraphs

This section supports the paper’s thesis statement and discusses the ideas in a detailed and well-organized manner.

A topic sentence is required to introduce each paragraph. Proper transitional words should be used to ensure a smooth flow of ideas.

All ideas should be supported by well-researched primary and secondary sources to enrich the thesis statement.

Each paragraph should contain its point that relates to the main argument in the essay.

Precise language and robust vocabulary should be used to illustrate different ideas.

Tips to consider when writing the body paragraphs

Various tips can help you professionally craft your body paragraphs. They include:

  • The body should only discuss points that relate to the thesis statement

  • A continuous flow of ideas should be maintained throughout the body

  • The second paragraph should explain the second point while the third paragraph discusses the third idea.

The body paragraphs should contain:

  • A clear topic sentence;

  • Well-researched supporting detail and evidence;

  • A proper transition between body sentences and paragraphs;

  • A concluding sentence to bring the paragraph to an end and to tie the arguments to the thesis statement.

Review: How to write a 5 paragraph essay step by step

Conclusion

In an essay conclusion, you summarize the different points discussed in the essay, remind your audience of the objective of the paper, and mirror your final thoughts. However, new ideas should not be introduced in the conclusion. A good conclusion should:

  • Provide the specifics in your introduction;

  • Rephrase your thesis – this makes it more meaningful and enables the reader to understand the main objectives of the essay;

  • Remind the reader about the main objectives of the essay and make them understand why the ideas presented in the essay are important;

  • Conclude the essay with either a general statement or a final thought.

4 Essay writing tips

Certain tips can help you enrich your essay and improve your writing skills. They include:

Create an essay outline

Your essay should be well-organized with a continuous flow of ideas. It should follow an introduction, body, conclusion format. For instance, if you are writing a process essay, the steps should be organized chronologically and no step should be omitted. Analytical, process, compare and contrast, and expository essays have a specific format that should be followed to present ideas in a chronological format. For instance, mixing up points in a process essay explaining "the process of manufacturing Sulphuric Acid using the Contact Process" can ruin the entire process being explained.

Conduct extensive research

Extensive research is required when covering analytical, persuasive, cause-and-effect, and compare and contrast essays. Essays should be source-rich and the ideas should be supported by information from credible sources. However, referencing information from other sources should be done moderately.

Acquire a deep understanding of basic punctuation, style, and grammar

A high-quality essay with engaging content uses incredible grammar and style. Before writing an essay, you should develop a solid understanding of grammar basics. Your sentences should be well-formed and proper pronoun and article usage should be ensured. Avoid wordiness and use of passive voice. Active voice enriches the tone of your essay and makes it stronger.

Understand your thesis

Before writing your essay, ensure you understand your thesis to avoid being out of topic. It can be quite frustrating to write down a 7-page essay only to be told you are out of topic. Once you understand the main argument, critically analyze the evidence you are planning to include in your essay. Ideas and sources that that doesn't support your main argument should be excluded.

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