An essay is a short piece of writing - fiction or non-fiction - about a selected topic. At the university, most assignments are submitted in essays, so you are about to write some essays, or you’ve maybe already written a few.
Essays take several forms. While narrative essays tell a story, persuasive essays make an argument. Irrespective of the kind of essay you’re writing, the principles below will help you communicate more effectively.
Find the purpose
Understanding the purpose of any writing helps you to respond more appropriately. You must make sure you understand what you are being asked to write about. You may be writing for another reason; it is vital to know your goals. It could be sharing information or an experience or changing mindsets or thoughts, your purpose will control the choices you make in writing your essay.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience makes you able to communicate in a language that is readily understandable. If experts read your essay, they already have some background knowledge, and won’t just be easily impressed. Readers who are your age will be familiar with the movies and music you’re likely to mention.
Think deeply about your topic
It is imperative that you jot down everything you can think of that is related to the topic you’re going to write about while you are brainstorming. If you don’t have any ideas, get inspiration from a newspaper story or headline, or close your eyes and just look around you. Chances are, you’ll find something that would create supporting statements to develop your essay.
Work out a topic sentence
Some call it topic sentence, others, thesis statement. It is that key initial claim you’re going to make about your topic. Form a complete sentence that makes a claim and includes your explanation or reason for that claim as an initial remark for each paragraph. You should be ready to change your thesis statement a bit as you expand your essay with supporting statements.
Develop your essay
Now that you have a thesis or topic sentence, you need reasons to support your claim. Start by listing your reasons for writing these ideas. Use statistics and quotations, they will help you make your point more forcefully. Personal stories (anecdotes) also make good, unique examples that no one else could provide.
Organise your essay
Every essay has a beginning, middle, and end. Organise your essay bearing in mind your purpose. If you’re writing a narrative, you’ll probably arrange your material in order of happenings. Consider using flashbacks to create tension and suspense. If it’s an argument, you would have to list your reasons in order of significance.
Link your ideas
Readers need road signs through your essay. Employ transitional devices to help them easily move from one idea to the next. Transitional devices are individual words such as ‘then’, ‘but’, or ‘therefore’.
Select impressive language
Use descriptive, specific words. Write about a ‘girl’ and your reader won’t know whether she’s pretty, friendly, or mean. Write about a ‘dark vivacious lady’ and your reader will have a clear picture. Using precise and descriptive words help the reader better understand what you want to communicate.
Edit and proofread your essay
Carefully check your work for errors. First, read your essay to yourself. If anything sounds awkward, revise it until you like the way it sounds. Second, make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are all correct. You can also have a friend read through your essay.
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