The Art of Essay Writing | A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
Writing essays is easy and simple. But, writing good essays can be a little difficult. If you are struggling with writing them, don't worry. Just read this post till the end and you'll be good to go.
Essays: What are They?
Before we start talking about how you can write essays, let's talk about what they are.
An essay can be defined as a write-up that aims to discuss a particular topic. There is no specific limit to how short or long an essay can be. However, as a general rule, essays usually range from 1,000 words to 10,000 words. They can be longer but we're talking about the usual stuff.
Essays are classified into different types, which are usually based on the way they are written. Here are some of the common ones:
1. Descriptive essays
2. Narrative essays
3. Argumentative essays
4. Explanatory essays
How to Write Essays?
From the above, you probably got a nice idea of what essays are. Now let's move on to look at how you can write them.
1. The First Step: Research
Although we are talking particularly about essays right now, this specific point i.e., "research" is something that you have to do pretty much in this exact chronological order whenever writing any sort of content. TLDR, if you want to write something, you need to do research.
And the same goes for essays.
Although research is necessary for essays, the type and amount of research you do depends on the topic you're writing on. For example, if you are writing a narrative essay, you will just have to do some very basic research. Since the essay would mainly revolve around your narrative, there won't be much stuff for you to seek out and study.
On the other hand, if you are writing an expository (explanatory) essay, you would have to do lots and lots of research since you would have to explain things and concepts.
Now, telling someone to do research is pretty simple and easy. But since this is a comprehensive guide, we will also discuss some tips that you can follow to make the process smoother and more effective.
1. Go through the guidelines provided by your institute regarding the approach of the research as well as the sources
2. If there are no such guidelines given, then nevertheless be sure to conduct your research from authoritative and reliable sources such as sites ending in ".edu" and ".gov." Technically, not all ".edu" sites are equally authoritative but this is a good way in which you can filter out the sources.
3. When conducting research, make points in your own words rather than directly borrowing the sentences and words from the sources. This will help you maintain originality and stay away from plagiarism.
4. During the research phase, find out and note down as many statistics and pieces of factual information as you can to support your arguments and points.
5. Keep track of all the sources that you use for research. This will help you to easily create citations should the need arise.
2. The Second Step: Create an Outline/Plan for Your Essay
Once you are done with the research, the next thing that you need to do is create an outline for your essay.By making an outline, you will be able to proceed with the essay in an organized way without deviating from the topic at hand.
Plus, making an outline will also help you determine the amount of content you want to include in each heading.
3. The Third Step: Study the Provided Guidelines
Once you are done with the outline, the next thing that you have to do is write the essay itself. But,one important thing that you need to do prior to writing the essay is reading and understanding the guidelines that have been provided to you by your institution.
The purpose of reading the guidelines is to clarify things such as the word count, the citation and referencing methods, the readability levels, the formatting styles, and so on. Since all of these elements have to necessarily be considered during the writing phase, you have to make sure that there is no ambiguity whatsoever.
4. The Fourth Step: Start Writing as Per Your Outline
After you are done with all the above steps, you have to commence the actual writing. Take care to rigidly adhere to the outline you've created earlier on so that you don't stray off plan.
When writing the content for the essay, you should also make a point to utilize the facts/figures that you had accumulated during the research phase.
Of course, since this is the main step of the whole essay "writing" process, there is a lot that you have to keep in mind. Let's take a look at some of the main elements that you have to consider:
You need to make your essay as easily readable as possible. Although academic writing is generally written in a somewhat difficult and sophisticated manner, you don't need to actively subscribe to this stereotype when writing your own stuff. By virtue of being academic in nature, your essay will automatically get the sophisticated touch. As far as your own effort goes, you have to ensure maximum readability by doing the following:
1. Using easy words
2. Keeping your sentences short
3. Keeping your paras short
4. Using active voice
b. Keeping Your Points/Arguments Separate
If you want your essay to have a nice impact on the reader, you should keep the points/arguments mentioned therein separate from one another.
You should not, in other words, bring all the arguments and points together. Nor should you branch out when discussing a particular point. Although the temptation will present itself to discuss multiple aspects in one plan by using the words "while we're at it" or something, you have to resist them.
A segregated and organized essay looks far better than one that has everything jumbled together in one place.
c. Always Cite Where Needed
When writing an essay - especially a descriptive or explanatory one - you may often need to take some existing content from a source. It could be something as minor as a single statistic, or it could be something larger such as the details of a study and its resultant outcomes.
Whatever the case may be, you should always cite the sources whenever you need to do some "borrowing" of facts and figures.
If you don't cite the sources, you will be guilty of plagiarism, and plagiarism itself comes with a glut of consequences.
5. Optimize and Finalize
Once you are all done with the writing phase, you need to optimize and perfect your essay before finalizing it.
As is the case with the actual writing stuff, there are multiple things that you have to take care of during the optimizing stage. Let's take a look at them one by one.
a. Find and Remove Spelling and Grammar Errors
Spelling and grammar mistakes can severely harm the quality and authoritativeness of your essay. These types of mistakes stick out like a sore thumb, and they are quick to attract the attention of your reader.
That is why, for the first step of the optimizing phase, you have to find and remove all such errors from your content. There are a couple of different things that you can do for this purpose. You can try:
1. Having a friend or family member read through the essay to find the mistakes
2. Doing some proofreading sessions yourself
3. Using an online grammar checker to quickly spot and resolve the errors
b. Organization and Formatting
Before finalizing your essay, you should also check the formatting and organization of the written content to make sure that there are no issues on that side.
So, what exactly do you have to see when checking the organization/formatting?
1. Firstly, check if all the headings, sub-headings, and section headings follow a proper progression. In other words, the arrangement should be:
1. Section heading
It is easy to forget to put the right indents or to change the font sizes properly when making headings on different levels. These sorts of mistakes and errors can make parts of your essay look somewhat anachronistic i.e., chronologically misplaced.
2. Then, see if there is any specific and particular guideline(s) provided by your institute for the essay's formatting/organization. If there are any, make sure that you're not going against them.
3. Other than the arrangement of the headings and sections, the formatting of an essay brings with its ambit everything from margins to line spacing, and from font style to footer/header texts. You should check and see if there are any issues with any of these elements.
c. Find and Eliminate Plagiarism
As we have mentioned earlier on in this post, plagiarism comes with a lot of consequences, due to which you have to take all the necessary measures to ensure that it is not present in the final draft.
There are different types of plagiarism. For example, if there is trouble in the referencing and citations, then this type of plagiarism is referred to as source-based plagiarism. There are many more as well.
However, our focus in this particular heading is for such plagiarism that occurs accidentally in your content and is not the result of deliberate design and/or citation trouble.
For example, you could accidentally write a couple of sentences in exactly the same way as they may be existing elsewhere.
This sort of plagiarism can be somewhat elusive. Since you don't actively commit it, you don't suspect anything to be wrong. So, during the optimization and finalization phase, you have to take care to run a plagiarism check on your essay.
Running a plagiarism check is somewhat easy. You can just use any of the many tools available online.The real issue comes when you have to eliminate it.
Normally, it makes sense to simply remove the plagiarized parts. But this can be difficult if the text in question happens to be vital to the main topic.
In this sort of case, you have to do some rewriting. You can do this manually, or you can take the help of an online essay rewriter. The benefit of the latter is that you can have the job done in a matter of seconds rather than spending minutes or hours on it.
So, there you have it. Writing a high-quality essay is easy enough if you know what to do. In this guide, we've highlighted the main steps that you have to follow during the essay-writing process.