Let’s accept the fact that essay writing is a rather laborious process and not the easiest thing to do. It is a bitter truth. Essays are very frequently assigned for homework. It is another bitter truth.
What is the way out? You can’t change or annul the academic requirements (at this very moment). On the other hand, you can read the article below and find all necessary elements to provide a good essay, even if it is your first one.
10 Steps to Write a Brilliant Essay
Planning is everything.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
We should all heed the words of the 34th President of the United States. If your academic skills are not perfect, you have to plan all steps to writing an essay, and that is the first thing you should do.
Choosing a topic for an essay
The fact that you need something to write about is obvious and undeniable. Everything becomes much easier if your teacher has provided you with a topic. Anyway, you may check our article “Original Essay Topics.” In the first place, your essay is more likely to be brilliant if you are really interested in the subject you write about. Choose wisely!
So, the next step is profound research. No matter what topic you choose, probably you’ll find enough material provided by well-educated specialists, experienced journalists, and famous writers. You should not choose some random sources; make sure that they are credible and trustworthy.
Give yourself time
Good ideas do not always come first. Try to look at your theme from different angles, and then look again, and again. Have a rest. And look again. Your mind needs some space to imagine all possible variants of the argumentation and approaches. Organize your personal “brainstorming” session with tea and cake!
Structure your thoughts
Creating the diagram or outline for your essay is one of the necessary steps to writing an essay. The outline has to be detailed and well-organized. You should also include some keywords or references for every point of your plan. If you are prone to creativity and imaginative thinking, you may draw your diagram in the shape of a pyramid, sun, house, or any other appropriate object.
The thesis statement is the root of everything
On the internet, you can find specific lectures and guidelines about writing an A-level thesis. In few words, it has to be understandable, narrow, and exhaustive. A thesis statement determines the structure of your essay, so strive for the ideal. You can use our free Thesis Statement Generator.
Just do it
Now you should start writing. Begin with the introduction, then move to the main body, and, finally, come to a conclusion.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Have a rest. No joke. Take a nap or go for a walk. Remember that you are not a robot that can just plug in a wall socket and be OK. You need a fresh mind to add the finishing touches.
Read your essay one more time. If you feel that you can do it better, now is the right moment. If you see unnecessary phrases – delete them. Tautologies? Use your dictionary, and find a synonym. Spelling and grammar mistakes are also not allowed.
Getting feedback may also be considered as one of the steps to write an essay. Consult your parents, friends, or teacher before writing a final draft. Two heads are better than one. Even the greatest writers of all time shared their ideas with their wives, husbands, and close friends before publishing their books.
End of the road
After you assure yourself that everything is done correctly, write a final draft for your essay. And read it one more time. Just in case.
How to Write an Introduction for an Essay
Firstly, let’s figure out the main task of the introduction. The first paragraph is aimed at grabbing the reader’s attention and making him or her continue reading. What usually draws our attention? Something interesting, mysterious, funny, and unusual. It’s a pity, but you can’t draw a beautiful flower or fluffy kitty instead of your introduction paragraph. So, how to write an essay introduction to “wow” readers?
Laughing is one the easiest ways to comfort your readers and to prepare them for a further perception of the text. Be careful with jokes! This method is not very appropriate for the essays about serious social, economic, or political issues, like homelessness, hunger, and revolutions. Moreover, make sure that your anecdote is funny not only for you, otherwise it may embarrass or confuse an average person.
Professional magicians have a simple but really effective rule: diversion is half of the success. Your topic is on gender inequality? Start your essay with a question about apples and oranges. You wonder what’s the point? It means your readers will wonder too. That’s the point.
Tell a story. Life is a collection of stories: fairy tales, cartoons, novels, comic books, etc. Why won’t you offer another one for your reader? Of course, it shouldn’t be too long or complicated. The main idea of the tale has to be relevant to your essay theme.
Predictability is boring. An irregular approach is exactly what you need in order to amaze your reader. Speak in a roundabout way, ask questions, and tell stories. Use your imagination and creativity, because you have only one attempt to attract your reader. Don’t waste it!
Jokes and stories are not enough for a good introduction. You should also include a thesis statement in the first paragraph. The thesis statement is one, perhaps two sentences at the beginning of your essay that summarizes your ideas and sets a direction and steps for your writing.
There are four major stages of writing a perfect thesis statement:
- Answer the question –Example:What function does an admissions essay have in the application process, and why is it important?An admissions essay allows the colleges to learn more about the candidate.
- Answer the WHOLE question – An admissions essay is the only way for the colleges to learn what kind of person the candidate is.
- Provide examples – An admissions essay is the only way for the colleges to learn what kind of individual the candidate is; it has to demonstrate his or her personal qualities, career aspirations, and life goals.
- Perfection – make sure your thesis statement is immaculate.An admissions essay is the only way for a candidate to demonstrate his or her personal qualities, career aspirations, and life goals; it is also an opportunity for colleges to hear the candidate’s personal voice.
How to Construct The Main Body of an Essay?
A burger without meat is worth nothing. It is the same for an essay and the main body.
The body paragraphs are the part of your essay between the introduction and conclusion. Text length depends on your word limit and your own writing energy. Every paragraph has to loosely consist of a similar number of words. This should be obvious for every conscious mind, but we’ll repeat a simple truth: one paragraph is NOT ENOUGH! Phew. It had to be done. Let’s move on to less obvious statements.
All body paragraphs should include:
- Topic sentence
- Coherent structure
- A clear connection with the thesis
- Sub-conclusion (optional)
- Every paragraph represents only one sub-point in order to let your reader easily follow your reasoning. The most important, or strongest, arguments you should place at the beginning of the essay main body or save for the last paragraph because they will make a first impression and form a fine aftertaste.
- All parts of the main body should be connected with proper transitions. A coherent text is more convincing and readable than a range of random arguments. You should enforce all points with one or more supporting details. Your statements will sound unreliable without facts, real-life examples, quotes, statistics, etc.
- Remember that not only the general length of your writing matters. Every paragraph should be about 5-7 sentences. It is impossible to make a statement and prove it in one sentence. On the other hand, a reader loses his or her concentration while reading a long paragraph. That is why there is no need to elongate your speech artificially. You’d better think about different approaches to enhance your main idea.
- One of the most popular models of writing is the five-paragraph essay. It is not always appropriate, but useful for beginners who have just started their way to academic success. The structure of this draft is simple: introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. There are two different strategies of the disposition of the arguments. The first method suggests putting your weakest point in the middle in order to circle it with stronger ones. The second approach is like a downward staircase: the first paragraph includes the cleverest argument, and the last one – the weakest argument.
- A good example is the best way to explain how to write a body paragraph correctly. We will analyze a sample on “Canterbury Tales” written by Geoffrey Chaucer. The task question is: “What are the main reasons which make all the tales fantastic?”
How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph for an Essay
The open-ended movie intrigues; the open-ended book makes you think; the open-ended essay raises the question, “So what?” Sounds uncertain, right?
In your conclusion, you have to remind your audience why they have read your essay and why it was not a waste of time. The concluding paragraph is more likely to stick in your reader’s memory than any other part of your paper. That is why it has to be the best part of your writing. Here is a list of four good strategies to complete your conclusion properly:
- As we mentioned above, a bad conclusion frequently raises the question, “So what?” You won’t believe, but the easiest way to avoid this question is to give an exhaustive answer in the last paragraph. Restate the most significant points in the concluding paragraph and put a period. Great job!
- The reader wants to have a feeling of completeness. Your conclusion may repeat your thesis statement. Now the cycle is completed. Sure, you should not repeat it verbatim, just use paraphrasing.
- Give your reader a hint about the further development of your topic or mention other aspects that could be interesting to him or her. For example, if you analyze the influence of Impressionism on European culture, in your concluding paragraph you may remark that it also had an effect on American culture.
- You may quote or reference one of your sources. A quotation helps to specify and confirm your final point. If your essay is dedicated to a book or movie, this strategy is perfect.
- Use the Socratic method – ask a question. It may motivate readers to think over your topic or even to provide their own research. It is a brilliant strategy for those who want to stimulate thinking of their readers.
Now it’s time for some bad strategies that you SHOULD NOT use for your conclusion:
- More data, more facts, more ideas. That’s enough! Your concluding paragraph is not a good place for the information you’ve forgotten to mention in the main body. Just let it go!
- As a rule, a conclusion doesn’t exceed the limit of a few sentences. It has to be short and clear without unnecessary details.
- No doubt, you can offer new ideas and perspectives in your essay, but don’t do this in the last paragraph! If the moment of epiphany has come too late, you’d better write another body paragraph than try to square the circle.
- A conclusion is not a summary of your paper but a synthesis of your main points. If you don’t have more than one sentence to write, it is not bad. Don’t expatiate by adding the information that your readers already know.
- Stay away from the phrases like “to sum up,” “in conclusion,” etc. Your readers understand perfectly well that the last paragraph is a concluding one. Don’t irritate them!
- Don’t apologize! It is not your fault that the word limit doesn’t allow you to present all the information you have found. Avoid phrases like “this is just one side of the problem,” “you can find much more information,” etc. Don’t show that you are not sure about the quality of your essay; your readers will think the same way.
- You should follow the same style through your essay. If your tone is serious and logical, don’t try to surprise readers with an emotional or motivating phrase. It will be a more confusing than entertaining move.
Type of Essays
Do you really think that reading and understanding your topic is enough? Ha. Think again. Do you know how many types of essays exist? A gazillion. Let’s talk about them a little to figure out what you have to do with different types of essays.
As a rule, a topic for this kind of essay is a general question. Your task is to answer this question and to persuade your reader that your opinion is the most immaculate and accurate. The argumentative essay belongs to the essay types that are frequently asked as a writing assignment in both schools and colleges.
Mention well-known sources and real-life examples for your arguments to be more compelling.Topic example:
“Can social networking replace real life communication?”
The main goal of the analytical essay is – what a surprise – to analyze a tendency, behavior, event, etc. This type of essay is all about logical reasoning and structure. A reader should follow your thoughts naturally and easily.
Use linking words to give a reader the right direction of thinking.Topic example:
“Why do teenagers often dye their hair?”
Problem Solution Essay
This type of essay is often asked in IELTS. You state a problem and offer your solution. Mention also your expectations about the consequences that will follow.
Your personal problems are not always interesting for readers. This is not meant as an offense, but only the truth.Topic example:
“How to cope with apathy after a personal tragedy?”
Using this essay, you explain an idea in a clear and simple way. You don’t prove anything: your goal is to present all the sides of the topic for your audience.
NO emotions and NO opinions. Only facts and logic.Topic example:
“Explain why music is used as a medicine by psychiatrists.”
In this type of essay, you provide your readers with a step-by-step guide. In short, you write an exhaustive and detailed instruction.
Start a new paragraph for each step in order not to confuse your readers.Topic example:
“How to choose a topic for a killer essay?”
Descriptive or Description Essay
You describe things, people, nature events, or your grandma’s perfect cake. You should not write about your general impression. You have to describe all the aspects of your subject: how it looks, how it smells, how it feels, etc.
Use your imagination skills in full force. Remember that you have five senses to describe the object you’ve chosen!Topic example:
“Describe the best circus performance you have ever seen.”
After reading your essay, everyone has to agree with your viewpoint. Compelling arguments, eloquence, and confidence are the fundamental tools for providing a brilliant persuasive essay.
Persuasive and argumentative essays are similar but not the same! You have to change your reader’s opinion in a persuasive essay using your power of conviction.Topic example:
“The death penalty must be replaced with organ donation.”
This type of essay defines a certain term, concept, or phenomenon in a very detailed way. You should investigate the origin, the usage, and the meanings.
The dictionary definition is not enough; provide deep and comprehensive research on your topic.Topic example:
Compare and Contrast Essay
You have to list the differences and similarities of two events, devices, tendencies, celebrities, etc.
Push the boundaries! Compare unexpected objects: gadgets, brands, websites, etc.Topic example:
“A marriage of love vs. a marriage of convenience.”
College Admissions Essay
This essay is a crucial part of the application process. The admission board wants to know more about you through your writing. For certain, you wonder how to choose a college essay topic. They are so various that it is difficult to explain in a few words.
Show the admissions officers that you are not merely a handful of accomplishments but a perfect candidate for their college.Topic example:
“How does my name define my destiny?”
Cause and Effect Essay
Your primary goal is to specify the reasons and consequences of a certain problem or event. You may investigate the cause, suggest effects, or do both.
Don’t skip from one aspect to another without a proper connection.Topic example:
“Social networking addiction: the causes and effects.”
Advantages and Disadvantages Essay
Unlike the argumentative essay, this type of essay doesn’t defend any point of view. In fact, it represents opposite opinions on a particular topic.
Be careful with your task! Sometimes, you should also provide your own opinion as a conclusion.Topic example:
“Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the industrial revolution.”
In general, a narrative essay is a first-person story about a personal experience. However, it should have some kind of point or purpose. In that case, your narrative essay is a compelling and moving example to prove your main idea.
Include all necessary parts of the story (introduction, plot, characters, conclusion, etc.)Topic example:
“BFF and other lies.”
This paper is your verdict. You evaluate and criticize an art piece or a project in order to reveal its weaknesses or underscore its strengths.
Write some general data about your essay’s subject, because your readers are not necessarily well-informed.Topic example:
“Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and the concept of true love.”
Your main goal is to separate objects, ideas, or things into particular groups. You have to explain your classification in a proper way and provide examples.
Look for an unpredictable approach to the classification of usual concepts. Regular things may shine in new splendor in the right hands!Topic example:
“Five types of weekends.”
Note to consider:The descriptive essay and the narrative essay don’t require strict formatting or structure. Sure, you should be consistent and logical, but let your creativity come in full force while writing these essays. Feel free to show your creative side! We hope our tips will help you a bit with creating every type of essay.
Common Mistakes in Essay Writing
Taking into account that you read this article, we have every right to suggest that your writing skills are far from ideal. Don’t worry: a lack of experience can be compensated with talent and efforts. Let’s look through the list of mistakes that you should avoid in your perfect essay.
- Talking about nothing –When you are not really interested in a topic and too lazy to provide profound research, you start making up stories, fabricate facts, and repeat your thesis statement, again and again, using different words. That’s not a good idea. Your teacher has read thousands of papers, and you can’t trick him or her with your eloquence. Pull yourself together, and you will pull through it!
- Lack of concentration –Focus on your question and don’t allow your thoughts to lose the right path. An essay is not a philosophical monologue that you can start with a poem and finish with a discourse about the origins of terrorism. Your writing has to be consistent and logical!
- Including unsupported ideas – Every statement in your writing requires one or two supporting details: facts, quotes, statistics, examples, etc. You will sound unreliable and thoughtless without these elements.
- Lexical tautologies –Come on, use a dictionary! Your vocabulary is not always enough, especially when the scientific terminology is required. Sometimes, it is better to consult the thesaurus in order to make your writing more complex and serious.
- Ignore the task –As said above, there are various types of essays. Every type has its own peculiarities, structure, and purpose. You shouldn’t mistake an argumentative essay for a persuasive or analytical essay.
- New information in the conclusion – A new idea in a concluding paragraph is a bad idea. The readers don’t want to be surprised by an unexpected detail. They are eager to see the logical finale of your reasoning.
- Absence of the thesis statement –Your thesis is the origin of the entire writing. That is why the foundation should be laid in the introductory paragraph. It establishes the structure, the logic, and the purpose of your narration.
- Informal language – Leave all words like “wanna” and “gotta” for your friends’ e-mails. An informal style is unacceptable for academic papers. Use high-level vocabulary and consult a dictionary if necessary.
- Length of the sentences –Balance is everything. You can’t develop an idea properly using four words. At the same time, lengthy constructions confuse your readers and hinder from following your reasoning.
- Misuse of words – Students frequently confuse words like “effect” and “affect,” “whose” and “those,” or “quit” and “quite.” Be attentive and proofread your paper two or three times.
- Neglect references –If you use a source, it is necessary to cite it properly. Plagiarism is a common problem of the modern educational system. The consequences of plagiarism can be very serious even if it seems to be accidental.
- Punctuation mistakes – Punctuation rules can be tangled and confusing. Anyway, you have to use proper punctuation in order to present your thoughts in a clear way and to make a good impression. Be especially careful with:
- Comma splice: you should use a semicolon or add a conjunction between two independent clauses.
- Missing comma before and, nor, but, or, yet, etc.
- Missing subject or verb.
- Unnecessary comma: you shouldn’t put commas between an independent clause and its dependent clause, verb and its direct object, or two elements with a conjunction between them.
- Missing commas around interrupters: on the other hand, fortunately, in fact, etc.
Credible and Dubious Sources for Your Essay
Every farmer knows that the harvest will be poor if you sow a field with meager soil. The same applies to the process of essay writing. If you use unreliable and untrusted sources, your work won’t be taken seriously. That is why the skills of searching trustworthy information are so important for every writer.
Journalists have a rule that any fact should be confirmed with at least three sources. This law is also true for essays. Although it is nearly impossible to abide by this rule, the mentioned principle should be your orienting point.
The internet is the greatest storage of data in our world, but the process of picking useful information often looks like digging through the trash. Below, we’ll give some directions so you won’t be totally lost in this chaos.
First of all, you should figure out what domain names you can trust. A domain name is an indicator that shows a website belongs to a certain realm. We will discuss the prominent domains such as .edu, .org, .gov, and .com:
- .edu – This domain name points to different educational institutions. Usually, these websites are under control of educational specialists, so the published information is highly reliable.
- .org – The non-profit organizations have this domain name. The best thing about these sites is that they don’t try to sell you anything or to trick you in any possible way. In few words, they are worth your trust.
- .gov – This domain name is used by the governmental institutions. Here, the information is relatively reliable. However, some facts might be distorted and politicized, so you’d better be careful.
- .com – You should be very attentive while searching information on these websites. The commercial organizations are not always conscientious about provided data. Although some commercial sources are great, they may contain a lot of hidden or evident advertisements.
Stay away from the thousands of personal homepages and the millions of blogs. They are called PERSONAL for a reason. The bloggers offer their own point of view, and they are unlikely to be professionals. Of course, these kinds of sources might be helpful if you are looking for various opinions on your topic. However, you shouldn’t count on their credibility.
What about printed sources? Let’s see how you can separate peer-reviewed and scientific journals from the plethora of magazines.
- Scientific journals
- Terminology, formal language
- Absence of ads (usually)
- Lack of colors
- Published once in three months
- Experienced and licensed authors
- Other magazines
- Informal language, simple vocabulary
- Lots of ads
- Glossy paper and bright printing
- Published ALL THE TIME
- Almost anybody
We will clarify one more thing: fiction books are for leisure; non-fiction books are for research. Sure, you’ll have to use fiction as a source if you write a review of a book of fiction, but this fact is obvious.
You can’t rely on any Wiki-site. The explanation is simple: anybody can edit these articles, and the censors are not always there to delete all of the nonsense. Although Wikipedia is far from ideal, you should check out other online encyclopedias: World Digital Library, Britannica, Scholarpedia, and others.
Lots of library collections published online are a priceless source for your essay. You can also rely on information published online by well-known newspapers and news agencies: The New York Times, Daily News, The Washington Post, Reuters, Associated Press, etc.
No doubt, you can provide your research in an old-fashioned way and visit the library on your own. Yes, they still exist.
Remember that there is an exception to every rule. If you write an opinion paper, you may use any possible source in order to get acquainted with all existing points of view.
ALWAYS take notes about your sources. This habit will keep you safe from plagiarism accusations. Use proper citations and give credit to your sources.
Let’s summarize everything said above:
| Websites that end with .edu, .org, and .gov|
|Well-known online newspapers and news agencies|
| Scientific journals|
| Public, academic libraries|
|Most websites that end with .com|
|Personal homepages and blogs|
|Word of mouth|
Common Essay Formatting Styles
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is widely used for essays in humanities and liberal arts: literature, philosophy, music, etc. MLA style doesn’t require a title page. You type your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date in the upper left-hand corner on the first page of your paper. If emphasizing is necessary, you can use italics. A page where you mention all sources that you’ve used for your essay has the title “Works Cited.” We’ve mentioned the most significant peculiarities of MLA format. In order to get more detailed information, please, check out our presentation.
This style was created by the American Psychological Association, so it is commonly used for the essays on social and behavioral disciplines: economics, history, psychology, management, etc. Unlike MLA style, APA format requires a title page. At the top, every page has a so-called “running head” – a short version of your work’s title (50 symbols maximum). The page with sources is called “References.” This information is enough to see the difference between APA and MLA formats. Before you start formatting your paper according to APA style, consult our presentation
The title of this style comes from the Chicago Style Manual dedicated to American English punctuation, grammar, and style. It is widely used by students for formatting their papers on many disciplines. Chicago format allows writers to reference their sources with the help of footnotes and endnotes together with a bibliography page. That is the reason why this formatting style is preferable for the papers that focus on the source of origin. You’ll find more helpful information about Chicago format in our presentation.
Good Topics for Various Types of Essays
Finally, we would like to offer you a list of 30 interesting topics that you may use for your papers. In brackets, we have included the most appropriate type of essay for every topic.
- Argumentative Essay Ideas
- Argumentative Essay on Banning Pit Bulls
- Argumentative Essay on Smoking in Public Places
Cause and Effect:
- Cause and Effect Essay Topics and Ideas
- 20 Topics on Economics of Climate Change for a Cause and Effect Essay
- Cause and Effect Essay on Alcoholism
- Definition Essay Topics and Ideas
- 20 Definition Essay Topics on Material Culture
- 20 Topics on the Biocultural Approach to the Climate Change for a Definition Essay
- 13 Facts on Drug Use and Its Consequences for an Expository Essay
- 20 Topics on Evolution of Human Behavior for an Expository Essay
- 20 Topics on Cultural Capital for an Exploratory Essay
- 20 Topics on the History of Art for an Expository Essay
- Expository Essay on Drugs
- Expository Essay on Music Genres
We hope that our article has covered all important aspects of essay writing and has answered all your questions. Anyway, if you are still not 100% sure about your writing skills, you are welcome to use our service. There, you will get professional support 24/7! Don’t hesitate and contact us to ask to write your essay.