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The Complete Guide For Writing An Essay

When you set out to write an outstanding essay, your job is to take a set of coherent ideas and form them into an argument.

You will need:

  1. An Introduction
  2. A set of analytical paragraphs for each of your ideas, sometimes known as the body
  3. A conclusion

The number of analytical paragraphs you require is contingent upon the full length of your final piece and what you need to support.

Many academic pieces are written linearly so that they present the ideas in the order which makes the most sense for a reader. This is referred to as the structure, and the structure of most pieces attends to the logic of the reader.

The focus of the piece will predict the best structure. The information the reader needs will organize your final set.

Answering Questions

Each essay must anticipate the questions asked by the reader and answer them. Each reader will have questions, and if they have no questions while reading, then your topic may not have been the best choice. In this case, your job is to think about the questions they will have before they have a chance to ask them, and to provide the answers within the body paragraphs.

The background information you need in order to set the tone of your final piece, which might include definitions, historical context, summaries of relevant criticisms or theories, or even biographical information, is more often than not presented immediately after the introduction paragraph and right before the first analytical section. However, if you feel that it suits the structure of your final piece better to save that background information for the times when it is relevant, then that is your prerogative.

It is helpful to imagine that each of the analytical paragraphs serves to answer a question. The first analytical section will answer the “what” question held by the readers. The readers want to know what you are talking about, what your thesis is, and what your evidence is describing.

The second section will answer the “how” question. It will do this by explaining how your thesis is correct, how the evidence supports it. This might be another set of sources which impact your claim, a new way to examine the evidence, or another introduction of new material.

The third section will answer the “why” question. Readers want to know why they should care. You can address this by explaining the larger implications of your work and why it is significant to you and to the reader as well. This is the key to a complete piece.

Structuring the Piece

When you are writing an essay, you want to map it, or structure it, based on the logic of the reader. This means that you need to look over the thesis you have and anticipate what it is your reader already knows, and what questions you need to answer for them in the course of your writing. You want to answer whatever questions are necessary in order for your reader to be convinced by the arguments you are presenting as they unfold.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to map out the ideas as though you were telling a narrative. You will find, in doing this, a record of your ideas at present and you will continually be reminded to pay attention the needs of your reader at all times.

By mapping out your ideas you can predict what the reader will expect in terms of background information, analyses, and counter arguments. With that information you can present a more coherent final draft.