How to write an essay

A simple way to start essay-writing.

1. Prompts- Often in essay-writing you will be given a prompt. Typically the prompt will specify the length of the essay so you know how much you will need to write. The best thing to do is to

analyze the question. Understand what the theme of this prompt is so you can center your

topics. It is important to have a clear theme defined so when you write there is consistency.

Make sure when choosing your argument that you consider all opposing arguments as well. An

example of a prompt may be something like, “Do you think all schools should require uniforms?”

The responses to this question are “Yes, I think all schools should require uniforms.”, “No, I

don’t think that all schools should require uniforms.” Or “No, there should be no dress code at

schools.” You do not have to choose the idea that you agree with the most, but the idea that

you can support the best.

2. Create a main idea- This will be what the essay is about. It will give you the following ideas that

will make the heart of the essay. From your main idea you should try to develop three or more

talking points. These three points are your evidence or support for your main idea. From the

example prompt shown above your main idea should be one of the three answers to the

question given. As an example I will choose the third option of “No, there should be no dress

code at schools.” My main idea would be another wording of this concept. Another way to call

the main idea is to say a “thesis.”

3. Three or more talking points- These three or more ideas will be formed into paragraphs so they

should not be too specific. The more specific details should be included in each paragraph. It is a

good idea to have a wide talking point so that you can emphasize it in multiple ways. The trick is

to enforce the theme of the paragraph. Here are a few examples of some talking points:

a. Students can express creativity through their clothes which helps to build confidence

b. There is no evidence that uniforms improves student behavior

c. Students do not have to subscribe to gender roles enforced by uniforms

4. Make an outline- Create a template for your essay. This will help you to generate a nice flow for

your ideas. Sometimes it is hard to see which ideas fit well together. This is a good time to

include some counter-arguments to the one that your essay supports. Showing that you have

considered all sides of the argument is a good tactic in persuasive arguments. It shows that you

are well rounded.

5. Research- Make sure that your ideas are strong by enforcing them with concrete evidence.

Weaker arguments can be pulled apart because they lack in support or real life examples. This

step should be completed before you begin writing.

6. Write an introduction paragraph- There is a specific format to writing a good introduction. Your

introduction should consist of an introductory sentence. Something that allows the reader to

know what the essay will be about. Then your main idea or thesis statement should come. After

this your three main ideas should follow. Basically this is the thesis statement of each of your

talking points. After your three main ideas you should write a sentence that allows the reader to

continue reading easily. Sometimes it is called a bridge sentence because it creates a bridge

between the introduction and the rest of the essay.

7. Write a conclusion paragraph- The conclusion paragraph should mirror the introduction. First an

introductory sentence. Then the three main idea sentences. Finally, you should write a few

sentences about the arguments opposing yours. Lastly, you should write a sentence concluding

your argument.

8. Revise and edit- Make sure that your spelling is correct. Make sure that you have the correct

punctuation and formatting for the essay. This should be specified in the prompt. Part of editing

and revising is attending to your fluency of ideas as well. Make sure to keep your ideas in a

logical order. Sometimes this just means rearranging sentences or just changing the word order

in a sentence. Another thing to note is to keep the same voice throughout the essay. If you are

writing in third person make sure to keep it consistent.

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