Knowing how to write essays is essential to any student seeking a higher education degree. Unless a student can write an effective, finely crafted essay that fulfills specific criteria, the student's grades may suffer and possibly cause him or her to fail a writing-intensive course. Because essays are generally less than three pages long, they demand tightly written paragraphs, compelling sentences and a succinct description of thematic ideas, concepts and/or conclusions.
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5 Basic Components of a Professionally Written Essay
1. An essay must have a thesis or main proposition. However, be careful not to confuse a thesis with a topic. For example, the topic of an essay may concern the economic future of the world but the thesis would argue that the plausibility of any economic future would depend on the world developing socialist policies instead of capitalistic policies. A good thesis needs to be arguable and fluid, with the ability to distinguish fact from observation for the reader.
2. An essay must clarify a question or problem and answer that question or problem in clear, precise language devoid of ambiguous terms or abstractions. Establishing the essay's thematic issue in the first or second paragraph is essential to writing a relevant and well-crafted essay.
3. The writer may need to compile evidence to either prove or disprove their thesis. The evidence is necessary for persuading readers that the essay is valid and stands on its own as a legitimate presentation of facts, empirical knowledge, and objective observation.
4. Extending the essay's thesis requires reflection and analysis on the part of the writer. Highlighting pertinent details and examining those details until they have been thoroughly discussed is vital to solidifying the evolution of a thesis from its initial introduction to its final denouement.
5. The structural integrity of an essay is just as important as its written components. Essays should be comprised of four or five-sentence paragraphs that are logical, chronological explanations of the thesis. Readers should readily grasp that each paragraph is an articulate extension of the writer's argument and not just exposition for the sake of exposition. Transitioning smoothly from one paragraph into another also requires the use of reflective sentences, transitional words and the skill to guide the reader from one persuasive conclusion to another.
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Types of Essays
This is the simplest essay form to write and involves the writer investigating an idea, assessing evidence to support their thesis, expounding on the thesis and putting forth a compelling argument regarding the thesis. Expository essays often use comparison/contrast or cause/effect template to strengthen the writer's argument. Paragraphs need to be limited to the exploration of one idea so that this idea is fully clarified and presented unambiguously to the reader. In addition, the conclusion should readdress the thesis after all evidence has been disclosed so that persuading the reader comes as a natural after effect of reading the essay.
Descriptive essays do exactly what they purport to do--they describe an experience, a person, a location, an emotion, a situation or anything else capable of being described. Creative writers find that descriptive essays are much easier to write than expository essays because of the artistic freedom allotted to writers. Because you are describing rather than analyzing, using vivid words, active verbs and creative writing techniques (similes, metaphors, etc) is imperative to forging a powerfully impressive, descriptive essay.
Narrative essays are stories--personal, experiential or anecdotal stories that, like descriptive essays, allow the writer a good amount of creative freedom. Similar in construction to a fictional short story, a narrative essay is a nonfiction that contains an introduction, characters, plot, setting and conclusion. However, the narrative essay needs to have a purpose and a climax that emphasizes the purpose by revealing something the reader did not know until that pivotal moment. Additionally, this essay form can incorporate dialogue, interpersonal conflict or even "man against nature" type themes as long as it makes its purpose clear to the reader.
Although components of an argumentative essay resemble those of an expository essay, students should not confuse the two since several distinct differences exist. One difference involves the amount of research needed to create an authoritative, well-written argumentative essay that deeply investigates a thesis by providing genuinely supportive evidence. Argumentative essays are typically longer than other essay forms and must include the thesis in the first paragraph, along with cogent reasons why the reader should care about the thesis statement. Evidential support should be inserted into each paragraph that is statistical, factual (cited) or anecdotal in nature. Most students find that the argumentative essay is the most difficult to write.
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