I know I am not the only one when I say that essay writing is hard.
And when turning to Google or any other (hopefully authentic!) source to find essay writing tips, it is almost impossible to find a guide that actually helps you organize your thoughts- almost every essay you write needs a different strategy and there doesn’t seem to be any single strategy.
What if I was to tell you that there is a simple formula for an effective essay, for any genre of writing?
Here’s the real deal:
It turns out that writing an effective essay is easier than everyone makes it out to be. It requires an easy-to-follow outline, and a thoughtful, deliberate flow of thinking.
Essay writing is a step-by-step process.
In this article, I am going to give you 5 essay-writing tips to help you write the most effective essay- ever.
Change your first step to change the QUALITY of your essay from its CORE
Almost always, the logical first step we attribute to an effective essay is to conduct research and see what is out there.
What we don’t always understand is that without fully capturing or knowing what our actual topic is, or what ideas we feel we can support, it is impossible to sort through masses of sources that we may need to cite.
Rather than researching, the best first step to writing an effective essay is to pick a topic. See what topic works for you, what you feel the most comfortable writing about.
Think hard what you think will be easy for you to talk about and support in your own voice- then move on to research. You don’t want to be depending on the voice of your researched articles entirely!
In the end, this topic and the side that you choose will be your thesis statement, which is the most important part of your essay.
Your thesis statement is what drives your entire argument, and whatever points and supports you find from all your research and brainstorming will come up to support the thesis statement and its umbrella argument.
With a well-formulated thesis statement and solidified topic at the core of your writing process, you can start moving on to the meat of the essay, which most people believe to be the research.
But here’s the catch:
There is another critical step to making your essay as effective as it can be before moving on to research! And that is…
Give your writing QUALITY by focusing on your OWN mind
Once you decide on a topic that you feel confident discussing and talking about, brainstorm your thoughts, write them out, and organize them.
Remember, you are the one who is going to talk about the topic of your choosing, so you need to know what you know and don’t know.
Once you understand what you know, what you need to do more research on to develop your ideas, and how each idea contributes to the main argument, that is when you can move on to doing actual research.
With these ideas plotted out as what you believe to be the main arguments supporting your umbrella thesis statement, you can start to research sources that will strongly support each developed subthesis that you brainstorm to create.
Save time on research with this one SIMPLE rule
Researching correctly is easier said than done. Anyone can search Google with their topic and come up with articles to support your main topic or argument.
Some say the difficulty comes in distinguishing between reputable and non-reputable sources- but it is my belief that colleges and their online databases has made it all the more easier.
The real story goes like this-
You procrastinated to the last minute and need to write your essay fast, and don’t have enough time to read through long articles for your support.
Skim articles for their abstract and conclusion to see their main points, rather than reading through the entire essay.
By doing this, you are getting right to the meat of the article’s main argument- and this way, you can quickly determine whether an article is citation-worthy and get to reading the article and finding a useful point to quote from.
Map out your thoughts FAST with this easy-to-follow outline
There are many ways to organize your essay. Most people follow the 5 paragraph standard method.
In reality, even professors nowadays are becoming quite annoyed of this standard length and format.
Its time to switch it up a notch!
Rather than sticking to a 5-paragraph model, stick to a model that I like to call the Layered Sandwich.
I came up with this model from observing the posters of essay writing tips in my high-school classrooms of the introduction and conclusion being the buns, and the different paragraphs supporting your main argument.
Other than the buns, which are the auxiliary introduction and conclusion, almost like an acceleration and deceleration to your essay, the meat and veggies and other condiments that you choose in the middle depend on your scope of the essay.
The amount of body paragraphs you have can range from anywhere between 2 to 20- and that matters on just how many unique and strong arguments and supports you can find to stand alone, whilst at the same time working together to support your thesis statement.
Keep a standard thesis statement- that is your meat. Add whatever condiments you feel support and make that meat taste as best as it can- and however many feels suitable to make the taste of your meat stronger and more enjoyable!
This is where you take all your brainstormed material and find a place for it to fit in your essay’s timeline. Map out the ideas where they seem to belong.
How do you write each body paragraph effectively?
- Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence, which is almost like a subthesis or a supporting main idea that contributes to your main topic. This will come directly out of what you chose as your supporting arguments from your brainstorming.
- Explain that main idea a bit before injecting some outside support.
- Follow up that outside source and quotations with an explanation tying it all together.
- End the body paragraph with a summarizing statement, almost identical to the topic sentence of that particular paragraph, but more informed with the sources used embedded in the statement.
Once you are done with each body paragraph, you will need your general essay map, our easy-to-follow outline.
It’ll look a little something like this:
- Body Paragraph (with subthesis or supporting main idea)
- Topic Sentence
- Quotation Explained
Of course, there can be any number of body paragraphs- the above includes just one for starters!
There can also be as many as quotations as you deem worthy for each supporting argument!
And of course, the buns are what support your essay, as the introduction and the conclusion, which leads us to…
Leave the BEST for the last
In all of essay writing, it is easy to say that when writing an effective essay, the introduction and conclusion are often the hardest to write.
Some people choose to write them both as the same ideas with the words moved around here and there.
That’s fine and all, but there’s an even better way.
Rather than circling your introduction and conclusion around your main ideas and supporting details, make it more like an acceleration into the crux of the topic, and deceleration outside, slowly expanding away.
If you start off writing your essay with the intro and conclusion, you will find yourself exploring the topic more than you need to, keeping the reader from sticking around.
However, if you choose to write the rest of your essay first, you will find that once you reach the end of your arguments, you will be more acquainted with your topic- enough to formulate a good entry and exit that appeals and hooks your reader.
Your introduction should hook your reader with a taste of what is to come, and the conclusion should at the most basic level summarize, and to work excellently, must provide the reader with a burning question or idea, that leaves them thinking and pondering long after they finish reading!
It is easy to take an organizational approach to writing an essay. But with a bit of purposeful thinking and direction, you can imbue personality and identity to your writing.
With these tools in hand, you are already on your way to writing a STELLAR essay.