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2. Act Like a Reporter

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Brainstorm ideas in response to the question

Outlining involves developing a basic structure for your essay, which can help you stay on track while writing drafts. Look over your notes and invention exercises and think about how you can organize this information in an outline. Think about what information should come first, second, third, etc. Just try to get the major ideas on paper. Collect all of your notes and materials.

Before you start to write, gather together all of the notes, books, and other materials that you will need to reference in order to answer the essay prompt effectively. Support is essential for an effective English essay, so do not try to write your essay without these materials.

If you have time, read through your notes before you begin. Make sure that you have your outline handy as well. You can build on your outline by expanding on each of the points in the order that they are listed in. Include topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph. Topic sentences signal to readers what a paragraph will discuss. Start each of your paragraphs with a topic sentence so that your instructor will be able to see that your ideas progress in a clear, direct manner.

Develop your ideas as much as possible. Make sure that you include as many details as possible throughout your essay. Remember that padding filling in with meaningless text or using extra wordy sentences is not an effective strategy for writing essays because instructors can see right through it.

Your instructor has probably read hundreds of student essays over their career, so they'll know when an essay has been padded. Fill your essays with details that make your essay useful and insightful instead. If you get stuck, some good strategies for developing your ideas include: Returning to the invention stage. This includes exercises such as freewriting, listing, or clustering. You can also revisit your notes and books to see if there's anything you missed or forgot.

You can find a writing lab on most college campuses. They are free to students and can help you improve your writing at any stage in the writing process. Talking to your instructor. Take advantage of your professor's office hours or one-on-one appointments.

Meet with them and discuss ways that you can improve your essay before you hand it in. Cite sources using MLA style citations. If you use any sources at all in your essay, then you will need to cite them using the style that your instructor prefers.

MLA style is the most common citation format used in English courses, so you will need to know how to use it. Provide in-text citations as well as a works cited page at the end.

An MLA style works cited page starts on a new page at the end of the essay. Provide entries for each of the sources that you used. These entries should include the information necessary to allow the reader to find the source with ease.

It's necessary to include an in-text citation for any information that you quote, summarize, or paraphrase from a source. Work towards a conclusion. The general structure of an essay usually goes from broad to specific. You could visualize this tendency as an upside-down pyramid or as a funnel.

By the time you get to your conclusion, it should feel as though the information in your conclusion is inevitable. It's essentially a recap of everything you've spent your whole essay trying to prove. You may find that you want to use your conclusion to: Qualify or complicate the information in your essay Suggest a need for further research Speculate on how the future will change the current situation.

Give yourself plenty of time. Leaving your essay to the last minute is not a good idea. Try to allow yourself at least a couple of days to revise your work. It is important to take a one to two day break from your essay after you have completed it.

Then you can come back to it and revise with a fresh perspective. Focus on improving the content of your essay first. Some people only focus on the grammar and punctuation when revising an essay, but this is less important than the content of your essay. Answer the essay question in as much detail as possible. Reread the essay question or assignment guidelines and ask: Do I have a clear thesis? Is my thesis the focus of my essay? Do I include adequate support for my argument?

Is there anything else I could add? Is there a logic to my essay? Does one idea follow the next? Essays are common in elementary, middle, high school and college, and you may even need to write essays in the business world although they are usually called "reports" at that point. An essay is defined as "a short piece of writing that expresses information as well as the writer's opinion.

For some, writing an essay is as simple as sitting down at their computer and beginning to type, but a lot more planning goes into writing an essay successfully. If you have never written an essay before, or if you struggle with writing and want to improve your skills, it is a good idea to go through several steps in the essay writing process.

While this sounds like a lot of steps to write a simple essay, if you follow them you will be able to write more successful, clear and cohesive essays. The first step to writing an essay is to decide what kind of essay to write. There are several main structures into which essays can be grouped:. Knowing what kind of essay you are trying to write can help you decide on a topic and structure your essay in the best way possible.

You cannot write an essay unless you have an idea of what to write about. Brainstorming is the process in which you come up with the essay topic. You need to simply sit and think of ideas during this phase. You could also use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm and come up with an essay idea. This involves writing your topic or idea in the center of the paper and creating bubbles clouds or clusters of related ideas around it.

This can be a great way to develop a topic more deeply and to recognize connections between various facets of your topic. Once you have a list of possible topics, it's time to choose the best one that will answer the question posed for your essay.

You want to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. Once you have done your brainstorming and chosen your topic, you may need to do some research to write a good essay. Seal the deal by directly stating why this example is relevant. The first sentence — the topic sentence - of your body paragraphs needs to have a lot individual pieces to be truly effective. Not only should it open with a transition that signals the change from one idea to the next but also it should ideally also have a common thread which ties all of the body paragraphs together.

For example, if you used "first" in the first body paragraph then you should used "secondly" in the second or "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" accordingly. Examples should be relevant to the thesis and so should the explanatory details you provide for them.

It can be hard to summarize the full richness of a given example in just a few lines so make them count. If you are trying to explain why George Washington is a great example of a strong leader, for instance, his childhood adventure with the cherry tree though interesting in another essay should probably be skipped over. You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: These words are example of a transitional phrase — others include "furthermore," "moreover," but also "by contrast" and "on the other hand" — and are the hallmark of good writing.

Transitional phrases are useful for showing the reader where one section ends and another begins. It may be helpful to see them as the written equivalent of the kinds of spoken cues used in formal speeches that signal the end of one set of ideas and the beginning of another. In essence, they lead the reader from one section of the paragraph of another. Hopefully this example not only provides another example of an effective body paragraph but also illustrates how transitional phrases can be used to distinguish between them.

Although the conclusion paragraph comes at the end of your essay it should not be seen as an afterthought. As the final paragraph is represents your last chance to make your case and, as such, should follow an extremely rigid format. One way to think of the conclusion is, paradoxically, as a second introduction because it does in fact contain many of the same features.

While it does not need to be too long — four well-crafted sentence should be enough — it can make or break and essay. Effective conclusions open with a concluding transition "in conclusion," "in the end," etc.

After that you should immediately provide a restatement of your thesis statement. This should be the fourth or fifth time you have repeated your thesis so while you should use a variety of word choice in the body paragraphs it is a acceptable idea to use some but not all of the original language you used in the introduction.

This echoing effect not only reinforces your argument but also ties it nicely to the second key element of the conclusion: Having done all of that, the final element — and final sentence in your essay — should be a "global statement" or "call to action" that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end.

The conclusion paragraph can be a difficult paragraph to write effectively but, as it is your last chance to convince or otherwise impress the reader, it is worth investing some time in. Take this opportunity to restate your thesis with confidence; if you present your argument as "obvious" then the reader might just do the same.

Although you can reuse the same key words in the conclusion as you did in the introduction, try not to copy whole phrases word for word. Instead, try to use this last paragraph to really show your skills as a writer by being as artful in your rephrasing as possible.

Although it may seem like a waste of time — especially during exams where time is tight — it is almost always better to brainstorm a bit before beginning your essay.

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Essay Structure. Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic. How to Write an Essay By YourDictionary Essays are common in elementary, middle, high school and college, and you may even need to write essays in the business world (although they are usually called "reports" at that point).