Love it or hate it, writing an essay is simply a way of life in secondary school and in many courses in university and college. Not everyone is a naturally great writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop those skills by writing more. After all, practice makes perfect, no?
We’ve got the tips and tricks for effective essay writing that you’ll be writing so smoothly that even Hemmingway would be proud. After all he did say; “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Since no one has a typewriter anymore, bust out your laptop and check out our tips for effectively writing and advice for what not to do when writing an essay.
THE EFFECTIVE ESSAY WRITING PROCESS
The process for writing a great essay is much more straight-forward than you may think. It all starts around great planning, a steady and strictly followed structure and a good topic. Let’s look at the key steps to writing an planning an essay.
- Analyse the essay prompt and ensure you understand what you need to do.
One of the most important steps in any writing assignment is to fully understand what you need to accomplish. When effectively writing, it’s important to understand what exactly the goal of the essay is. Do you fully understand the ask? Is there anything within the essay prompt that is not covered that could or should be? Can you relate the prompt to other things being taught in the course? Ensuring you ask these questions when you review an essay prompt will be extremely beneficial when planning to write your essay.
- Create a thesis statement and make an outline
Your next step in planning is to create a thesis statement. What exactly is your argument and what are you trying to prove by writing this essay? This thesis statement will guide you as you write your essay. Write this down somewhere other than your computer and continually refer to it as you’re writing to ensure your essay continues to stay true to the essay topic.
Once you’ve completed your essay thesis, it is important to create an outline for your topic. Plot out how you plan to argue your thesis and what relevant topics you will focus on. This is also a good opportunity to find quotes that may be relevant in supporting your argument.
- Start with your body paragraph, not the intro
Starting with the body paragraphs is a much easier way to get your essay flowing and is a great process for effectively writing an essay. The intro paragraph is always one of the hardest to start, so often it is best to get your argument started with the body paragraphs. The body paragraphs are where you will develop your story and argument.
To get your body paragraphs started, consider writing down some points you wish to focus on and then find research to support those points. Once you’ve done this, you can start writing!
- Use credible and legitimate sources
In order to form a credible audience, you need credible sources. Ensure you find quotes from scholarly resources including academic journals, peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, or books by credible authors. The internet can be a great resource for information, but be sure to check your sources when pulling them from online. When in doubt, you can use tools like Google Scholar to see if the source is credible.
- Write your introduction and conclusion last
Write your conclusion and introduction last. It allows you to ensure that everything you wrote about in your essay was covered and tied together.
Your introduction should be one short paragraph that states your thesis clearly. This is the opportunity to summarize what the reader should expect from your essay and also to hook them in.
Like your thesis, your conclusion should restate your thesis and what you wrote about. Consider this as a way of tying your introduction back to your entire essay. You should highlight how your key points tie back to your essay.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread and… proofread.
Reviewing your essay is critical to ensuring it is well written. Read each paragraph thoroughly. Remove conjunctions (they’re, aren’t, don’t, etc.) as they are inappropriate for academic writing. Print your paper, and mark it up with revisions. Sometimes reading on paper is good away to notice more errors than on a computer screen. You will read it with more detail. Read the essay out loud. You will be able to hear if you’ve written an odd sounding sentence. If its sounds wrong, it may actually be written wrong.
Proofreading is critical in catching errors.
COMMON WRITING ERRORS AND HOW TO IMPROVE
Speaking of errors, there are a lot of common ones that occur when creatively writing. Ontario eSecondary School instructors are total pros and are longtime experienced teachers. That’s why we’ve recruited one of our own English instructors to provide some guidelines on common errors she sees and advice on how to avoid them. We’ve also included some ways to fix them.
- The main argument is unclear or underdeveloped. Try to directly answer the question with your thesis statement, or create a thesis statement which clearly and directly states your argument.
- Poorly structured sentences and paragraphs; the words may be spelled correctly but the meaning of the sentence is hard to understand. Thorough proofreading is required.
- Poorly structured essay. Your essay needs to have clearly written paragraphs. This includes an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. You either have not included these or it is too difficult to tell these parts of your essay apart.
- You have not provided the context for your quotation. You have a quotation, but you haven’t introduced the speaker or character. Remember that you need to tell your reader who or what your quotation is about before you begin quoting or paraphrasing your source material.
- Insufficient evidence. Make sure that the proof you include actually shows your argument in action. Your proof should act as a demonstration of the thing you want to discuss.
- Incorrect citation. Your evidence is complete but you have not included the author who wrote it or the page number you found it on. This is plagiarism. You must follow each quotation with a correct citation: e.g. (Smith 64).
- Insufficient explanations. The explanation you provided either
- summarizes what happens in the quotation but does not expand on it and/or
- does not show the way in which your evidence is actually related to your subtopic and thesis. The purpose of including evidence is to use it to support a point you’re trying to make. Your explanation is the part of your essay which creates this connection.
Writing an essay is not the easiest task let alone effectively writing, but there are many things you can do to hone those skills. Next time you need to write an essay, try our techniques and you may just find it gets a bit easier.
If you need to hone your writing skills, why not try one of our English courses? You can learn more about OES and the wide range of courses available on our website. We are an accredited ontario secondary school and offer many courses from science and math, to English and history.