Saturday, August 17, 2019

How to write an essay

Writing an essay, paper  or thesis is the biggest challenge of their studies for many students. Throwing in exam material is often okay, but writing a piece yourself… And even for those who want to become a writer (maybe they like self-abuse). Not knowing where to start ( writer's block), cross nights to finish the essay ... And nobody told you that you can have your own opinion. It may be a crazy idea to disagree with all those academics who have done years of research into it. These are not all crazy ideas since - apart from literary studies - little attention is paid to writing skills during your studies. This makes it something elusive. It looks like a trick that you must have a talent for. Nothing is less true. There is indeed a system in it. If you know this system, it's a matter of practice. This process can be further accelerated by targeted feedback from an expert , which is often missing.

Why write an essay?
Frequently heard reasons for writing an essay or paper are: "because it has to be", "to get a good grade", "to show the teacher what I know" and "to make a point". While the first three reasons seem legitimate, an essay ultimately has one simple goal: an argument to hold. With this argument you answer a specific (research) question, you demonstrate that you have studied the subject critically, you present a rational argument, you use an academic writing style and you ensure professional design. Above all, remember that an essay is an argument and not a summary of what you have read. So don't be tempted to show off all your freshly gained knowledge (an essay is not a selfie), but only use knowledge that really contributes to the point you want to make. Finally, it is important that you write an essay about a topic that you are passionate about or that leaves you awake.

What is an essay?
See an essay as a thought experiment. An essay takes the reader on a journey from departure ( introduction ) to destination ( conclusion ). An essay touches on a topic and answers a question based on an argument. You do this by using academic arguments. These consist of three elements: a claim, a reason for this claim, and reasoning and evidence to link the reason to the claim. An argument consists of ideas in a logical structure, while evidence is information that suggests or demonstrates that these ideas are credible. For example: "A communist regime is untenable, which is demonstrated by government activities to keep it going, such as censorship and a travel ban."

writing an essay

To start!
A good start is half the battle, just to name a cliché. A good essay is planned, written and edited (in this order). Work out what you want to say, write it down and make it pleasant to read. Sounds simple right? Students and writers often suffer from procrastination. You secretly hope that the assignment will disappear, you decide to do something more important (such as doing the dishes) or take a short break that mysteriously becomes very long. There are roughly two different strategies to counter this. Strategy one is for persistent procrastinators: put everything aside and agree with yourself that you will work on your essay for 20 minutes non-stop. Once you are busy you will see that this will soon be more than 20 minutes. Strategy two is for procrastinators who particularly hate writing: bring writing closer to speaking. Write down everything that comes to mind spontaneously and do not pay attention to writing style, spelling and punctuation. That will come later.

Answer the question
Answering the question is the first step in planning your essay. To do that, you must first understand the question well (what is the scope and context?) And ultimately communicate this to the reader. You place a figurative framework around the essay. Terms used here include "in the context of ...", "in the light of ...", "in relation to ..." The second part, answering the question, is a process that consists of creating, testing and refine the position. With this  point of view (or 'thesis statement') you express one idea in a single sentence, you answer the question of the essay directly and you make a claim that a reader can disagree with (otherwise it is not a point of view) or is it not worth writing an essay about).

Write an outline
The best way to create the structure of an essay is to write an ' outline' . An outline is a miniature version of your essay, written in numbered single sentences or catchwords. An essay always has the basic structure of  introduction , body and conclusion . The introduction consists of the background of the argument (what is the background and why is it relevant?) And concludes with your point of view. Paragraphs form the building blocks of the text. "Pyramid" and "Funnel"are two different methods to build a paragraph. The pyramid is the most used. This type of paragraph starts with a statement or statement that is then explained or substantiated. You can optionally apply different levels (main points, sub points). The conclusion puts your argument in a broader context and considers the future. It answers the 'so what?' Question that may occur to your reader while reading your essay.

Write a draft
A draft is the first version of your essay. Do not try to make this perfect. Focus on creating text. The following 10 tips will help you write a draft:

Imagine speaking to your reader and write down what you would say to them
Start wherever you want: this way you stimulate momentum and creativity
Write as quickly as possible: focus on creating, not correcting and use [...] if there are gaps
Stick to the outline: only adjust if you really get stuck or get fundamentally new insights
Use the sentences of the outline as triggers: write a paragraph after each sentence in your outline
Use questions from your notes to generate answers: have a kind of conversation with yourself
If you get stuck, look for evidence (watch out for plagiarism )
Review your position regularly based on new knowledge and insights
Do not correct: you save a lot of time by correcting at the end
Take short breaks, but do not give in to distractions
writing an essay

After writing the draft you will edit or correct. This helps you with the thinking process, effectively communicating your ideas and of course getting a good grade. Make the text as simple as possible, but never simpler than the reality. Be correct, but do not use a difficult to understand academic language where that is not necessary. Never use more words than necessary. Your draft is probably longer than the final essay, because it takes time and effort to make a text to the point. The goal is a text that is accurate, concise and clear.

Check the paragraphs for the following guidelines:

One idea per paragraph, expressed in the first sentence
Uncomplicated sentences: vary in length (but never more than 25 words) and connect sentences with each other
Use appropriate words: that the reader understands, from the sources used, only words that you use
Minimum three sentences per paragraph
Then have the essay corrected by others to remove unnecessary mistakes. Finally, read it carefully once again before submitting it. Good luck!

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