Essay Writing: how to write a perfect essay in an hour or less
Writing a great essay is about achieving a balance between structure (organization, outline, presentation of ideas) and voice (creativity, word choice, intrigue, readability). Most people are more skilled in one area, and many people aren’t so great at either. Luckily, writing an essay is a skill that can be learned even if you aren’t Hemingway. Even better, learning the following steps and using them to write your essay will save you time!
Grab a pen, jot these essay writing tips down and get that paper done before the deadline.
#1 – Get organized! Don’t get freaked out about the actual writing process until you’ve made a clean and simple outline. I’ll admit, I hated making outlines. I like to write and I would just rush in and write down whatever I wanted until my essay was done. Since teachers (at least in Western countries) often prize creativity above all else, I usually scored pretty good grades; but only because my teachers were humoring me. I found out in grad school that this kind of writing really isn’t going to cut it in the real world. (If you’re a creative writer – you’ve got a good headstart, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by skipping over this hugely important step.)
The best part about making an outline is that it’s easy, fast, and it makes writing your essay a thousand times faster and easier. So let’s do it now! It should only take about five minutes.
- skip the title for now, you can come up with something catchy that fits in with the essay after you’ve written it.
- start with the purpose of the essay. What’s your main topic, idea, argument, etc. ? Write down in one sentence what your paper is going to be about. Next, make a list of the things you are going to say – the supporting arguments, the ideas or subtopics you will hit on, evidence, examples, etc.
Here are a few examples:
Persuasive essay/argumentative essay
“I think smoking is bad, because a) it causes lung cancer b) 2nd hand smoke is dangerous c) it is addictive d) it makes your clothes stink”
“People should all be vegetarians because a) killing animals is cruel b) meat is unhealthy c) the grain used to feed cows could be used to feed humans
Finished? There you have it! Take your main idea, and your supporting points, and you have your outline already. Now jot down 2~3 pieces of evidence that support each of your subtopics or supporting claims.
Example: “The first reason that people should be vegetarians is that killing animals is cruel. It is cruel because…” (a, b, c – more reasons that explain and defend the claim that killing animals is cruel, ie they feel pain, inhuman treatment in the meat industry, etc).
Each paragraph should take and develop one supporting idea. At the beginning of each supporting idea you need to introduce it and what you’re going to say about it. Also add some transitions (the first thing…another thing….the last thing…) to keep things smooth. Now that you have your outline, you can literally fill in the blanks and put it together, type out a clean copy, and turn it in.
Yes, creativity still gets major brownie points, no matter what kind of writing. Even in serious academic research, only those researchers who are investigating something new are going to get attention. How to do it? Here are some tips.
1) Pick a crafty, funny, engaging title; a play on words.
2) Cut back on big words. Long, beautiful words in English are fun to play with, but clear, direct, simple writing is almost always better. Big words draw attention to themselves and away from the rest of what’s going on; so put them where you want to draw attention to them, not where they will be distracting. Don’t limit your vocabulary, but also don’t search your thesaurus.
3) At the same time, don’t use too many boring words. The worst is “really” or “very” (it was very fun, really cool, very interesting, etc.) “good,” “bad,” “went,” “said,” “nice,” “walked,” and “then are a few others.
Once you’ve written your outline, fill it in with a natural, conversation tone. Pretend you were just speaking to your friend. Nothing’s worse than an uptight or pretentious essay.
(***In many academic disciplines, uptight and pretentious is the law of the land. Don’t buy into it! The best writing will always been clear, engaging writing***)