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How to Write an Essay

Last Updated: April 2, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 7,942,949 times.

An essay is a common type of academic writing that you'll likely be asked to do in multiple classes. Before you start writing your essay, make sure you understand the details of the assignment so that you know how to approach the essay and what your focus should be. Once you've chosen a topic, do some research and narrow down the main argument(s) you'd like to make. From there, you'll need to write an outline and flesh out your essay, which should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. After your essay is drafted, spend some time revising it to ensure your writing is as strong as possible.

Understanding Your Assignment

Step 1 Read your assignment carefully.

  • The compare/contrast essay , which focuses on analyzing the similarities and differences between 2 things, such as ideas, people, events, places, or works of art.
  • The narrative essay , which tells a story.
  • The argumentative essay , in which the writer uses evidence and examples to convince the reader of their point of view.
  • The critical or analytical essay, which examines something (such as a text or work of art) in detail. This type of essay may attempt to answer specific questions about the subject or focus more generally on its meaning.
  • The informative essay , that educates the reader about a topic.

Step 2 Check for formatting and style requirements.

  • How long your essay should be
  • Which citation style to use
  • Formatting requirements, such as margin size , line spacing, and font size and type

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, Professor of English, tells us: "Most essays will contain an introduction, a body or discussion portion, and a conclusion. When assigned a college essay, make sure to check the specific structural conventions related to your essay genre , your field of study, and your professor's expectations."

Step 3 Narrow down your topic so your essay has a clear focus.

  • If you're doing a research-based essay , you might find some inspiration from reading through some of the major sources on the subject.
  • For a critical essay, you might choose to focus on a particular theme in the work you're discussing, or analyze the meaning of a specific passage.

Step 4 Ask for clarification if you don't understand the assignment.

  • If you're having trouble narrowing down your topic, your instructor might be able to provide guidance or inspiration.

Planning and Organizing Your Essay

Step 1 Find some reputable sources on your topic.

  • Academic books and journals tend to be good sources of information. In addition to print sources, you may be able to find reliable information in scholarly databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar.
  • You can also look for primary source documents, such as letters, eyewitness accounts, and photographs.
  • Always evaluate your sources critically. Even research papers by reputable academics can contain hidden biases, outdated information, and simple errors or faulty logic.

Tip: In general, Wikipedia articles are not considered appropriate sources for academic writing. However, you may be able to find useful sources in the “References” section at the end of the article.

Step 2 Make notes...

  • You might find it helpful to write your notes down on individual note cards or enter them into a text document on your computer so you can easily copy, paste , and rearrange them however you like.
  • Try organizing your notes into different categories so you can identify specific ideas you'd like to focus on. For example, if you're analyzing a short story , you might put all your notes on a particular theme or character together.

Step 3 Choose a question to answer or an issue to address.

  • For example, if your essay is about the factors that led to the end of the Bronze Age in the ancient Middle East, you might focus on the question, “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?”

Step 4 Create a thesis...

  • One easy way to come up with a thesis statement is to briefly answer the main question you would like to address.
  • For example, if the question is “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?” then your thesis might be, “Natural disasters during the Late Bronze Age destabilized local economies across the region. This set in motion a series of mass migrations of different peoples, creating widespread conflict that contributed to the collapse of several major Bronze Age political centers.”

Step 5 Write an outline...

  • When you write the outline, think about how you would like to organize your essay. For example, you might start with your strongest arguments and then move to the weakest ones. Or, you could begin with a general overview of the source you're analyzing and then move on to addressing the major themes, tone, and style of the work.
  • Introduction
  • Point 1, with supporting examples
  • Point 2, with supporting examples
  • Point 3, with supporting examples
  • Major counter-argument(s) to your thesis
  • Your rebuttals to the counter-argument(s)

Drafting the Essay

Step 1 Write an introduction...

  • For example, if you're writing a critical essay about a work of art, your introduction might start with some basic information about the work, such as who created it, when and where it was created, and a brief description of the work itself. From there, introduce the question(s) about the work you'd like to address and present your thesis.
  • A strong introduction should also contain a brief transitional sentence that creates a link to the first point or argument you would like to make. For example, if you're discussing the use of color in a work of art, lead-in by saying you'd like to start with an overview of symbolic color use in contemporary works by other artists.

Tip: Some writers find it helpful to write the introduction after they've written the rest of the essay. Once you've written out your main points, it's easier to summarize the gist of your essay in a few introductory sentences.

Step 2 Present your argument(s) in detail.

  • For example, your topic sentence might be something like, “Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are among the many literary influences apparent in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels.” You could then back this up by quoting a passage that contains a reference to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Try to show how the arguments in each paragraph link back to the main thesis of your essay.

Step 3 Use transition sentences between paragraphs.

  • When creating transitions, transitional phrases can be helpful. For example, use words and phrases such as “In addition,” “Therefore,” “Similarly,” “Subsequently,” or “As a result.”
  • For example, if you've just discussed the use of color to create contrast in a work of art, you might start the next paragraph with, “In addition to color, the artist also uses different line weights to distinguish between the more static and dynamic figures in the scene.”

Step 4 Address possible counterarguments.

  • For example, if you're arguing that a particular kind of shrimp decorates its shell with red algae to attract a mate, you'll need to address the counterargument that the shell decoration is a warning to predators. You might do this by presenting evidence that the red shrimp are, in fact, more likely to get eaten than shrimp with undecorated shells.

Step 5 Cite your sources...

  • The way you cite your sources will vary depending on the citation style you're using. Typically, you'll need to include the name of the author, the title and publication date of the source, and location information such as the page number on which the information appears.
  • In general, you don't need to cite common knowledge. For example, if you say, “A zebra is a type of mammal,” you probably won't need to cite a source.
  • If you've cited any sources in the essay, you'll need to include a list of works cited (or a bibliography ) at the end.

Step 6 Wrap up with...

  • Keep your conclusion brief. While the appropriate length will vary based on the length of the essay, it should typically be no longer than 1-2 paragraphs.
  • For example, if you're writing a 1,000-word essay, your conclusion should be about 4-5 sentences long. [16] X Research source

Revising the Essay

Step 1 Take a break...

  • If you don't have time to spend a couple of days away from your essay, at least take a few hours to relax or work on something else.

Step 2 Read over your draft to check for obvious problems.

  • Excessive wordiness
  • Points that aren't explained enough
  • Tangents or unnecessary information
  • Unclear transitions or illogical organization
  • Spelling , grammar , style, and formatting problems
  • Inappropriate language or tone (e.g., slang or informal language in an academic essay)

Step 3 Correct any major problems you find.

  • You might have to cut material from your essay in some places and add new material to others.
  • You might also end up reordering some of the content of the essay if you think that helps it flow better.

Step 4 Proofread your revised essay.

  • Read over each line slowly and carefully. It may be helpful to read each sentence out loud to yourself.

Tip: If possible, have someone else check your work. When you've been looking at your writing for too long, your brain begins to fill in what it expects to see rather than what's there, making it harder for you to spot mistakes.

how to write a an essay

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

You Might Also Like

Plan an Essay Using a Mind Map

  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-types
  • ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/resources/essay-writing/six-top-tips-for-writing-a-great-essay
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/tips-reading-assignment-prompt
  • ↑ https://library.unr.edu/help/quick-how-tos/writing/integrating-sources-into-your-paper
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/notes-from-research/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/outlining
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-incorporate-a-counter-argument.html
  • ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.twc/files/resource-files/Intros-Conclusions.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-4-revising-and-editing/
  • ↑ https://writing.ku.edu/writing-process

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

If you need to write an essay, start by gathering information from reputable sources, like books from the library or scholarly journals online. Take detailed notes and keep track of which facts come from which sources. As you're taking notes, look for a central theme that you're interested in writing about to create your thesis statement. Then, organize your notes into an outline that supports and explains your thesis statement. Working from your outline, write an introduction and subsequent paragraphs to address each major point. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that briefly explains the main point of that paragraph. Finally, finish your paper with a strong conclusion that sums up the most important points. For tips from our English Professor co-author on helpful revision techniques, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to write a an essay

How to Write an Essay

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Essay Writing Fundamentals

How to prepare to write an essay, how to edit an essay, how to share and publish your essays, how to get essay writing help, how to find essay writing inspiration, resources for teaching essay writing.

Essays, short prose compositions on a particular theme or topic, are the bread and butter of academic life. You write them in class, for homework, and on standardized tests to show what you know. Unlike other kinds of academic writing (like the research paper) and creative writing (like short stories and poems), essays allow you to develop your original thoughts on a prompt or question. Essays come in many varieties: they can be expository (fleshing out an idea or claim), descriptive, (explaining a person, place, or thing), narrative (relating a personal experience), or persuasive (attempting to win over a reader). This guide is a collection of dozens of links about academic essay writing that we have researched, categorized, and annotated in order to help you improve your essay writing. 

Essays are different from other forms of writing; in turn, there are different kinds of essays. This section contains general resources for getting to know the essay and its variants. These resources introduce and define the essay as a genre, and will teach you what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab

One of the most trusted academic writing sites, Purdue OWL provides a concise introduction to the four most common types of academic essays.

"The Essay: History and Definition" (ThoughtCo)

This snappy article from ThoughtCo talks about the origins of the essay and different kinds of essays you might be asked to write. 

"What Is An Essay?" Video Lecture (Coursera)

The University of California at Irvine's free video lecture, available on Coursera, tells  you everything you need to know about the essay.

Wikipedia Article on the "Essay"

Wikipedia's article on the essay is comprehensive, providing both English-language and global perspectives on the essay form. Learn about the essay's history, forms, and styles.

"Understanding College and Academic Writing" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This list of common academic writing assignments (including types of essay prompts) will help you know what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

How to Identify Your Audience

"Audience" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This handout provides questions you can ask yourself to determine the audience for an academic writing assignment. It also suggests strategies for fitting your paper to your intended audience.

"Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

This extensive book chapter from Writing for Success , available online through Minnesota Libraries Publishing, is followed by exercises to try out your new pre-writing skills.

"Determining Audience" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This guide from a community college's writing center shows you how to know your audience, and how to incorporate that knowledge in your thesis statement.

"Know Your Audience" ( Paper Rater Blog)

This short blog post uses examples to show how implied audiences for essays differ. It reminds you to think of your instructor as an observer, who will know only the information you pass along.

How to Choose a Theme or Topic

"Research Tutorial: Developing Your Topic" (YouTube)

Take a look at this short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to understand the basics of developing a writing topic.

"How to Choose a Paper Topic" (WikiHow)

This simple, step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through choosing a paper topic. It starts with a detailed description of brainstorming and ends with strategies to refine your broad topic.

"How to Read an Assignment: Moving From Assignment to Topic" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Did your teacher give you a prompt or other instructions? This guide helps you understand the relationship between an essay assignment and your essay's topic.

"Guidelines for Choosing a Topic" (CliffsNotes)

This study guide from CliffsNotes both discusses how to choose a topic and makes a useful distinction between "topic" and "thesis."

How to Come Up with an Argument

"Argument" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

Not sure what "argument" means in the context of academic writing? This page from the University of North Carolina is a good place to start.

"The Essay Guide: Finding an Argument" (Study Hub)

This handout explains why it's important to have an argument when beginning your essay, and provides tools to help you choose a viable argument.

"Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument" (University of Iowa)

This page from the University of Iowa's Writing Center contains exercises through which you can develop and refine your argument and thesis statement.

"Developing a Thesis" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page from Harvard's Writing Center collates some helpful dos and don'ts of argumentative writing, from steps in constructing a thesis to avoiding vague and confrontational thesis statements.

"Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

This page offers concrete suggestions for each stage of the essay writing process, from topic selection to drafting and editing. 

How to Outline your Essay

"Outlines" (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via YouTube)

This short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows how to group your ideas into paragraphs or sections to begin the outlining process.

"Essay Outline" (Univ. of Washington Tacoma)

This two-page handout by a university professor simply defines the parts of an essay and then organizes them into an example outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL gives examples of diverse outline strategies on this page, including the alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal styles. 

"Outlining" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Once you have an argument, according to this handout, there are only three steps in the outline process: generalizing, ordering, and putting it all together. Then you're ready to write!

"Writing Essays" (Plymouth Univ.)

This packet, part of Plymouth University's Learning Development series, contains descriptions and diagrams relating to the outlining process.

"How to Write A Good Argumentative Essay: Logical Structure" (Criticalthinkingtutorials.com via YouTube)

This longer video tutorial gives an overview of how to structure your essay in order to support your argument or thesis. It is part of a longer course on academic writing hosted on Udemy.

Now that you've chosen and refined your topic and created an outline, use these resources to complete the writing process. Most essays contain introductions (which articulate your thesis statement), body paragraphs, and conclusions. Transitions facilitate the flow from one paragraph to the next so that support for your thesis builds throughout the essay. Sources and citations show where you got the evidence to support your thesis, which ensures that you avoid plagiarism. 

How to Write an Introduction

"Introductions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page identifies the role of the introduction in any successful paper, suggests strategies for writing introductions, and warns against less effective introductions.

"How to Write A Good Introduction" (Michigan State Writing Center)

Beginning with the most common missteps in writing introductions, this guide condenses the essentials of introduction composition into seven points.

"The Introductory Paragraph" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming focuses on ways to grab your reader's attention at the beginning of your essay.

"Introductions and Conclusions" (Univ. of Toronto)

This guide from the University of Toronto gives advice that applies to writing both introductions and conclusions, including dos and don'ts.

"How to Write Better Essays: No One Does Introductions Properly" ( The Guardian )

This news article interviews UK professors on student essay writing; they point to introductions as the area that needs the most improvement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

"Writing an Effective Thesis Statement" (YouTube)

This short, simple video tutorial from a college composition instructor at Tulsa Community College explains what a thesis statement is and what it does. 

"Thesis Statement: Four Steps to a Great Essay" (YouTube)

This fantastic tutorial walks you through drafting a thesis, using an essay prompt on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as an example.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through coming up with, writing, and editing a thesis statement. It invites you think of your statement as a "working thesis" that can change.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (Univ. of Indiana Bloomington)

Ask yourself the questions on this page, part of Indiana Bloomington's Writing Tutorial Services, when you're writing and refining your thesis statement.

"Writing Tips: Thesis Statements" (Univ. of Illinois Center for Writing Studies)

This page gives plentiful examples of good to great thesis statements, and offers questions to ask yourself when formulating a thesis statement.

How to Write Body Paragraphs

"Body Paragraph" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course introduces you to the components of a body paragraph. These include the topic sentence, information, evidence, and analysis.

"Strong Body Paragraphs" (Washington Univ.)

This handout from Washington's Writing and Research Center offers in-depth descriptions of the parts of a successful body paragraph.

"Guide to Paragraph Structure" (Deakin Univ.)

This handout is notable for color-coding example body paragraphs to help you identify the functions various sentences perform.

"Writing Body Paragraphs" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

The exercises in this section of Writing for Success  will help you practice writing good body paragraphs. It includes guidance on selecting primary support for your thesis.

"The Writing Process—Body Paragraphs" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

The information and exercises on this page will familiarize you with outlining and writing body paragraphs, and includes links to more information on topic sentences and transitions.

"The Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post discusses body paragraphs in the context of one of the most common academic essay types in secondary schools.

How to Use Transitions

"Transitions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains what a transition is, and how to know if you need to improve your transitions.

"Using Transitions Effectively" (Washington Univ.)

This handout defines transitions, offers tips for using them, and contains a useful list of common transitional words and phrases grouped by function.

"Transitions" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This page compares paragraphs without transitions to paragraphs with transitions, and in doing so shows how important these connective words and phrases are.

"Transitions in Academic Essays" (Scribbr)

This page lists four techniques that will help you make sure your reader follows your train of thought, including grouping similar information and using transition words.

"Transitions" (El Paso Community College)

This handout shows example transitions within paragraphs for context, and explains how transitions improve your essay's flow and voice.

"Make Your Paragraphs Flow to Improve Writing" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post, another from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, talks about transitions and other strategies to improve your essay's overall flow.

"Transition Words" (smartwords.org)

This handy word bank will help you find transition words when you're feeling stuck. It's grouped by the transition's function, whether that is to show agreement, opposition, condition, or consequence.

How to Write a Conclusion

"Parts of An Essay: Conclusions" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course explains how to conclude an academic essay. It suggests thinking about the "3Rs": return to hook, restate your thesis, and relate to the reader.

"Essay Conclusions" (Univ. of Maryland University College)

This overview of the academic essay conclusion contains helpful examples and links to further resources for writing good conclusions.

"How to End An Essay" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) by an English Ph.D. walks you through writing a conclusion, from brainstorming to ending with a flourish.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page collates useful strategies for writing an effective conclusion, and reminds you to "close the discussion without closing it off" to further conversation.

How to Include Sources and Citations

"Research and Citation Resources" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL streamlines information about the three most common referencing styles (MLA, Chicago, and APA) and provides examples of how to cite different resources in each system.

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator

This online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. Be sure to select your resource type before clicking the "cite it" button.

CitationMachine

Like EasyBib, this online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. 

Modern Language Association Handbook (MLA)

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of MLA referencing rules. Order through the link above, or check to see if your library has a copy.

Chicago Manual of Style

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of Chicago referencing rules. You can take a look at the table of contents, then choose to subscribe or start a free trial.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

"What is Plagiarism?" (plagiarism.org)

This nonprofit website contains numerous resources for identifying and avoiding plagiarism, and reminds you that even common activities like copying images from another website to your own site may constitute plagiarism.

"Plagiarism" (University of Oxford)

This interactive page from the University of Oxford helps you check for plagiarism in your work, making it clear how to avoid citing another person's work without full acknowledgement.

"Avoiding Plagiarism" (MIT Comparative Media Studies)

This quick guide explains what plagiarism is, what its consequences are, and how to avoid it. It starts by defining three words—quotation, paraphrase, and summary—that all constitute citation.

"Harvard Guide to Using Sources" (Harvard Extension School)

This comprehensive website from Harvard brings together articles, videos, and handouts about referencing, citation, and plagiarism. 

Grammarly contains tons of helpful grammar and writing resources, including a free tool to automatically scan your essay to check for close affinities to published work. 

Noplag is another popular online tool that automatically scans your essay to check for signs of plagiarism. Simply copy and paste your essay into the box and click "start checking."

Once you've written your essay, you'll want to edit (improve content), proofread (check for spelling and grammar mistakes), and finalize your work until you're ready to hand it in. This section brings together tips and resources for navigating the editing process. 

"Writing a First Draft" (Academic Help)

This is an introduction to the drafting process from the site Academic Help, with tips for getting your ideas on paper before editing begins.

"Editing and Proofreading" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page provides general strategies for revising your writing. They've intentionally left seven errors in the handout, to give you practice in spotting them.

"How to Proofread Effectively" (ThoughtCo)

This article from ThoughtCo, along with those linked at the bottom, help describe common mistakes to check for when proofreading.

"7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful" (SmartBlogger)

This blog post emphasizes the importance of powerful, concise language, and reminds you that even your personal writing heroes create clunky first drafts.

"Editing Tips for Effective Writing" (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

On this page from Penn's International Relations department, you'll find tips for effective prose, errors to watch out for, and reminders about formatting.

"Editing the Essay" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This article, the first of two parts, gives you applicable strategies for the editing process. It suggests reading your essay aloud, removing any jargon, and being unafraid to remove even "dazzling" sentences that don't belong.

"Guide to Editing and Proofreading" (Oxford Learning Institute)

This handout from Oxford covers the basics of editing and proofreading, and reminds you that neither task should be rushed. 

In addition to plagiarism-checkers, Grammarly has a plug-in for your web browser that checks your writing for common mistakes.

After you've prepared, written, and edited your essay, you might want to share it outside the classroom. This section alerts you to print and web opportunities to share your essays with the wider world, from online writing communities and blogs to published journals geared toward young writers.

Sharing Your Essays Online

Go Teen Writers

Go Teen Writers is an online community for writers aged 13 - 19. It was founded by Stephanie Morrill, an author of contemporary young adult novels. 

Tumblr is a blogging website where you can share your writing and interact with other writers online. It's easy to add photos, links, audio, and video components.

Writersky provides an online platform for publishing and reading other youth writers' work. Its current content is mostly devoted to fiction.

Publishing Your Essays Online

This teen literary journal publishes in print, on the web, and (more frequently), on a blog. It is committed to ensuring that "teens see their authentic experience reflected on its pages."

The Matador Review

This youth writing platform celebrates "alternative," unconventional writing. The link above will take you directly to the site's "submissions" page.

Teen Ink has a website, monthly newsprint magazine, and quarterly poetry magazine promoting the work of young writers.

The largest online reading platform, Wattpad enables you to publish your work and read others' work. Its inline commenting feature allows you to share thoughts as you read along.

Publishing Your Essays in Print

Canvas Teen Literary Journal

This quarterly literary magazine is published for young writers by young writers. They accept many kinds of writing, including essays.

The Claremont Review

This biannual international magazine, first published in 1992, publishes poetry, essays, and short stories from writers aged 13 - 19.

Skipping Stones

This young writers magazine, founded in 1988, celebrates themes relating to ecological and cultural diversity. It publishes poems, photos, articles, and stories.

The Telling Room

This nonprofit writing center based in Maine publishes children's work on their website and in book form. The link above directs you to the site's submissions page.

Essay Contests

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards

This prestigious international writing contest for students in grades 7 - 12 has been committed to "supporting the future of creativity since 1923."

Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest

An annual essay contest on the theme of journalism and media, the Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest awards scholarships up to $1,000.

National YoungArts Foundation

Here, you'll find information on a government-sponsored writing competition for writers aged 15 - 18. The foundation welcomes submissions of creative nonfiction, novels, scripts, poetry, short story and spoken word.

Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest

With prompts on a different literary work each year, this competition from Signet Classics awards college scholarships up to $1,000.

"The Ultimate Guide to High School Essay Contests" (CollegeVine)

See this handy guide from CollegeVine for a list of more competitions you can enter with your academic essay, from the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards to the National High School Essay Contest by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Whether you're struggling to write academic essays or you think you're a pro, there are workshops and online tools that can help you become an even better writer. Even the most seasoned writers encounter writer's block, so be proactive and look through our curated list of resources to combat this common frustration.

Online Essay-writing Classes and Workshops

"Getting Started with Essay Writing" (Coursera)

Coursera offers lots of free, high-quality online classes taught by college professors. Here's one example, taught by instructors from the University of California Irvine.

"Writing and English" (Brightstorm)

Brightstorm's free video lectures are easy to navigate by topic. This unit on the parts of an essay features content on the essay hook, thesis, supporting evidence, and more.

"How to Write an Essay" (EdX)

EdX is another open online university course website with several two- to five-week courses on the essay. This one is geared toward English language learners.

Writer's Digest University

This renowned writers' website offers online workshops and interactive tutorials. The courses offered cover everything from how to get started through how to get published.

Writing.com

Signing up for this online writer's community gives you access to helpful resources as well as an international community of writers.

How to Overcome Writer's Block

"Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue OWL offers a list of signs you might have writer's block, along with ways to overcome it. Consider trying out some "invention strategies" or ways to curb writing anxiety.

"Overcoming Writer's Block: Three Tips" ( The Guardian )

These tips, geared toward academic writing specifically, are practical and effective. The authors advocate setting realistic goals, creating dedicated writing time, and participating in social writing.

"Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block" (Univ. of Illinois)

This page from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Center for Writing Studies acquaints you with strategies that do and do not work to overcome writer's block.

"Writer's Block" (Univ. of Toronto)

Ask yourself the questions on this page; if the answer is "yes," try out some of the article's strategies. Each question is accompanied by at least two possible solutions.

If you have essays to write but are short on ideas, this section's links to prompts, example student essays, and celebrated essays by professional writers might help. You'll find writing prompts from a variety of sources, student essays to inspire you, and a number of essay writing collections.

Essay Writing Prompts

"50 Argumentative Essay Topics" (ThoughtCo)

Take a look at this list and the others ThoughtCo has curated for different kinds of essays. As the author notes, "a number of these topics are controversial and that's the point."

"401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing" ( New York Times )

This list (and the linked lists to persuasive and narrative writing prompts), besides being impressive in length, is put together by actual high school English teachers.

"SAT Sample Essay Prompts" (College Board)

If you're a student in the U.S., your classroom essay prompts are likely modeled on the prompts in U.S. college entrance exams. Take a look at these official examples from the SAT.

"Popular College Application Essay Topics" (Princeton Review)

This page from the Princeton Review dissects recent Common Application essay topics and discusses strategies for answering them.

Example Student Essays

"501 Writing Prompts" (DePaul Univ.)

This nearly 200-page packet, compiled by the LearningExpress Skill Builder in Focus Writing Team, is stuffed with writing prompts, example essays, and commentary.

"Topics in English" (Kibin)

Kibin is a for-pay essay help website, but its example essays (organized by topic) are available for free. You'll find essays on everything from  A Christmas Carol  to perseverance.

"Student Writing Models" (Thoughtful Learning)

Thoughtful Learning, a website that offers a variety of teaching materials, provides sample student essays on various topics and organizes them by grade level.

"Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

In this blog post by a former professor of English and rhetoric, ThoughtCo brings together examples of five-paragraph essays and commentary on the form.

The Best Essay Writing Collections

The Best American Essays of the Century by Joyce Carol Oates (Amazon)

This collection of American essays spanning the twentieth century was compiled by award winning author and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates.

The Best American Essays 2017 by Leslie Jamison (Amazon)

Leslie Jamison, the celebrated author of essay collection  The Empathy Exams , collects recent, high-profile essays into a single volume.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate (Amazon)

Documentary writer Phillip Lopate curates this historical overview of the personal essay's development, from the classical era to the present.

The White Album by Joan Didion (Amazon)

This seminal essay collection was authored by one of the most acclaimed personal essayists of all time, American journalist Joan Didion.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace (Amazon)

Read this famous essay collection by David Foster Wallace, who is known for his experimentation with the essay form. He pushed the boundaries of personal essay, reportage, and political polemic.

"50 Successful Harvard Application Essays" (Staff of the The Harvard Crimson )

If you're looking for examples of exceptional college application essays, this volume from Harvard's daily student newspaper is one of the best collections on the market.

Are you an instructor looking for the best resources for teaching essay writing? This section contains resources for developing in-class activities and student homework assignments. You'll find content from both well-known university writing centers and online writing labs.

Essay Writing Classroom Activities for Students

"In-class Writing Exercises" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page lists exercises related to brainstorming, organizing, drafting, and revising. It also contains suggestions for how to implement the suggested exercises.

"Teaching with Writing" (Univ. of Minnesota Center for Writing)

Instructions and encouragement for using "freewriting," one-minute papers, logbooks, and other write-to-learn activities in the classroom can be found here.

"Writing Worksheets" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

Berkeley offers this bank of writing worksheets to use in class. They are nested under headings for "Prewriting," "Revision," "Research Papers" and more.

"Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism" (DePaul University)

Use these activities and worksheets from DePaul's Teaching Commons when instructing students on proper academic citation practices.

Essay Writing Homework Activities for Students

"Grammar and Punctuation Exercises" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

These five interactive online activities allow students to practice editing and proofreading. They'll hone their skills in correcting comma splices and run-ons, identifying fragments, using correct pronoun agreement, and comma usage.

"Student Interactives" (Read Write Think)

Read Write Think hosts interactive tools, games, and videos for developing writing skills. They can practice organizing and summarizing, writing poetry, and developing lines of inquiry and analysis.

This free website offers writing and grammar activities for all grade levels. The lessons are designed to be used both for large classes and smaller groups.

"Writing Activities and Lessons for Every Grade" (Education World)

Education World's page on writing activities and lessons links you to more free, online resources for learning how to "W.R.I.T.E.": write, revise, inform, think, and edit.

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How to Write an Essay — A Comprehensive Guide

Sumalatha G

Table of Contents

Writing an essay can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to academic writing. However, with the right approach and a clear understanding of the essay structure, you can tackle this challenge seamlessly. In this article, we will guide you through the process of essay writing in a detailed manner. By following these guidelines, you will be able to gather your materials, develop a strong argument, and craft a well-structured essay that will leave your readers hooked.

Getting Started — Gather Your Materials and Research

Before you start writing your essay, it is important to gather all the necessary materials and conduct thorough research on your topic. This includes finding relevant books, articles, and online sources that will provide you with the information needed to support your argument. The more well-informed you are on the subject, the stronger your essay will be.

When gathering your materials, it is essential to consider the credibility and reliability of your sources. Look for reputable publications, academic journals, bibliography databases , and expert opinions to ensure that the information you include in your essay is accurate and trustworthy. Remember, the quality of your research will greatly influence the overall quality of your essay.

Additionally, conducting thorough research will not only provide you with the necessary information but also help you gain a deeper understanding of your topic. As you delve into different sources, you may come across various perspectives and arguments that will enrich your own analysis. This exploration will allow you to develop a well-rounded and comprehensive essay that considers different viewpoints.

While conducting your research, it is crucial to take organized and detailed notes. Jot down key points, quotes, and any thoughts or ideas that come to mind. This will not only help you remember important information but also assist you in organizing your thoughts and structuring your essay effectively. By keeping track of your sources, you will also avoid any issues with plagiarism and ensure that you can properly cite your references.

Furthermore, the research process provides an opportunity for you to engage critically with the topic. As you read and analyze different sources, you may encounter conflicting information or gaps in the existing literature. This presents a chance for you to contribute to the academic discourse by addressing these discrepancies or proposing new insights. Your essay can become a platform for advancing knowledge and sparking further discussions.

Lastly, remember that research is an ongoing process. Even after you have gathered your initial materials, it is important to remain open to new information and perspectives. Embrace this continuous learning and be willing to revise and refine your arguments as you progress.

Create an Outline

Once you have gathered your research materials, it is time to create an outline for your essay. An outline will serve as a roadmap for your writing, helping you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows logically.  Start by identifying the main points you want to cover in your essay. Then, arrange these points in a logical order, considering the overall structure of your essay.

When creating an outline, it is important to consider the overall structure of your essay. Think about how you want to introduce your topic and engage your readers. Consider what information is essential to include in each section of your essay and how you want to transition between different ideas.

Understand the Essay Structure

Before diving into the essay writing process, it is important to understand the basic structure of an essay. Most essays follow a standard format, consisting of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should grab the reader's attention and provide a clear thesis statement that reflects your main argument. The body paragraphs should expand on your argument, providing evidence and examples to support your claims. Finally, the conclusion should summarize your essay and restate your main points.

Write the Introduction

The introduction is the first impression your essay makes on the reader, so it is essential to make it engaging and captivating. Start with a hook that grabs the reader's attention and introduces the topic. Then, provide some background information and context to set the stage for your argument. Finally, end your introduction with a clear and concise thesis statement that reflects the main point you will be discussing throughout your essay.

Develop Your Argument

Once you have established your thesis statement, it is time to develop your argument in the body paragraphs of your essay. Each body paragraph should focus on a specific point that supports your thesis. Commence with each paragraph by presenting a topic sentence that serves to introduce the main idea to the reader. Subsequently, provide evidence and illustrations to support your argument. Be sure to use clear and concise language and vary your sentence structure to keep the reader engaged.

Use Evidence to Support Your Argument

To strengthen your argument and validate your claims, it is crucial to use evidence and examples throughout your essay. This can include research findings, statistics, quotes from authoritative sources, or real-life examples. Make sure to cite your sources properly and provide enough context for the reader to understand the significance of the evidence you are presenting.

Write the Body Paragraphs

With your argument and evidence in place, it is time to write the body paragraphs of your essay. Each body paragraph should focus on a separate point that contributes to your overall argument. Start with a topic that introduces the main concept of the paragraph. Then, provide supporting details and evidence to expand on your point. Use transition words and phrases to ensure a smooth flow between the paragraphs.

Craft the Conclusion

The conclusion is the final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your reader. In this section, you should summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement. Do not introduce new information or arguments in the conclusion section. Instead, focus on wrapping up your essay and leaving the reader with a thought-provoking closing statement. Make sure to leave a lasting impact and reinforce the significance of your argument.

Edit and Proofread

Once you have finished writing your essay, it is crucial to edit and proofread it thoroughly. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and awkward phrasing. Ensure that your sentences flow smoothly and that your ideas are clearly expressed. Trim any unnecessary information and make sure that your essay is concise and focused. Consider seeking feedback from your peer or teacher to get a fresh perspective on your work.

Final Touches and Submission

Before submitting your essay, take some time to add the final touches. This includes formatting your essay according to the guidelines provided by your instructor or educational institution. Make sure that your essay is properly formatted, with consistent font, spacing, and citation style . Double-check that all your sources are properly cited, both within the text and in the bibliography or reference list. Finally, read your essay once more to ensure that it is polished and ready for submission.

Wrapping up

By following these guidelines, you can approach essay writing with confidence. Remember to gather your materials and conduct thorough research, create a well-structured outline, and develop a strong argument supported by evidence. Craft an engaging introduction, write clear and concise body paragraphs, and wrap up your essay with a thought-provoking conclusion. Finally, edit and proofread your essay, ensuring that it is well-written and free of errors. By following these steps, you can write an essay that will ingrain your readers and showcase your skills as an academic writer.

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Tips for Online Students , Tips for Students

How To Write An Essay: Beginner Tips And Tricks

Updated: July 11, 2022

Published: June 22, 2021

How To Write An Essay # Beginner Tips And Tricks

Many students dread writing essays, but essay writing is an important skill to develop in high school, university, and even into your future career. By learning how to write an essay properly, the process can become more enjoyable and you’ll find you’re better able to organize and articulate your thoughts.

When writing an essay, it’s common to follow a specific pattern, no matter what the topic is. Once you’ve used the pattern a few times and you know how to structure an essay, it will become a lot more simple to apply your knowledge to every essay. 

No matter which major you choose, you should know how to craft a good essay. Here, we’ll cover the basics of essay writing, along with some helpful tips to make the writing process go smoothly.

Ink pen on paper before writing an essay

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Types of Essays

Think of an essay as a discussion. There are many types of discussions you can have with someone else. You can be describing a story that happened to you, you might explain to them how to do something, or you might even argue about a certain topic. 

When it comes to different types of essays, it follows a similar pattern. Like a friendly discussion, each type of essay will come with its own set of expectations or goals. 

For example, when arguing with a friend, your goal is to convince them that you’re right. The same goes for an argumentative essay. 

Here are a few of the main essay types you can expect to come across during your time in school:

Narrative Essay

This type of essay is almost like telling a story, not in the traditional sense with dialogue and characters, but as if you’re writing out an event or series of events to relay information to the reader.

Persuasive Essay

Here, your goal is to persuade the reader about your views on a specific topic.

Descriptive Essay

This is the kind of essay where you go into a lot more specific details describing a topic such as a place or an event. 

Argumentative Essay

In this essay, you’re choosing a stance on a topic, usually controversial, and your goal is to present evidence that proves your point is correct.

Expository Essay

Your purpose with this type of essay is to tell the reader how to complete a specific process, often including a step-by-step guide or something similar.

Compare and Contrast Essay

You might have done this in school with two different books or characters, but the ultimate goal is to draw similarities and differences between any two given subjects.

The Main Stages of Essay Writing

When it comes to writing an essay, many students think the only stage is getting all your ideas down on paper and submitting your work. However, that’s not quite the case. 

There are three main stages of writing an essay, each one with its own purpose. Of course, writing the essay itself is the most substantial part, but the other two stages are equally as important.

So, what are these three stages of essay writing? They are:

Preparation

Before you even write one word, it’s important to prepare the content and structure of your essay. If a topic wasn’t assigned to you, then the first thing you should do is settle on a topic. Next, you want to conduct your research on that topic and create a detailed outline based on your research. The preparation stage will make writing your essay that much easier since, with your outline and research, you should already have the skeleton of your essay.

Writing is the most time-consuming stage. In this stage, you will write out all your thoughts and ideas and craft your essay based on your outline. You’ll work on developing your ideas and fleshing them out throughout the introduction, body, and conclusion (more on these soon).

In the final stage, you’ll go over your essay and check for a few things. First, you’ll check if your essay is cohesive, if all the points make sense and are related to your topic, and that your facts are cited and backed up. You can also check for typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and formatting errors.  

The Five-Paragraph Essay

We mentioned earlier that essay writing follows a specific structure, and for the most part in academic or college essays , the five-paragraph essay is the generally accepted structure you’ll be expected to use. 

The five-paragraph essay is broken down into one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. However, that doesn’t always mean that an essay is written strictly in five paragraphs, but rather that this structure can be used loosely and the three body paragraphs might become three sections instead.

Let’s take a closer look at each section and what it entails.

Introduction

As the name implies, the purpose of your introduction paragraph is to introduce your idea. A good introduction begins with a “hook,” something that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them excited to read more. 

Another key tenant of an introduction is a thesis statement, which usually comes towards the end of the introduction itself. Your thesis statement should be a phrase that explains your argument, position, or central idea that you plan on developing throughout the essay. 

You can also include a short outline of what to expect in your introduction, including bringing up brief points that you plan on explaining more later on in the body paragraphs.

Here is where most of your essay happens. The body paragraphs are where you develop your ideas and bring up all the points related to your main topic. 

In general, you’re meant to have three body paragraphs, or sections, and each one should bring up a different point. Think of it as bringing up evidence. Each paragraph is a different piece of evidence, and when the three pieces are taken together, it backs up your main point — your thesis statement — really well.

That being said, you still want each body paragraph to be tied together in some way so that the essay flows. The points should be distinct enough, but they should relate to each other, and definitely to your thesis statement. Each body paragraph works to advance your point, so when crafting your essay, it’s important to keep this in mind so that you avoid going off-track or writing things that are off-topic.

Many students aren’t sure how to write a conclusion for an essay and tend to see their conclusion as an afterthought, but this section is just as important as the rest of your work. 

You shouldn’t be presenting any new ideas in your conclusion, but you should summarize your main points and show how they back up your thesis statement. 

Essentially, the conclusion is similar in structure and content to the introduction, but instead of introducing your essay, it should be wrapping up the main thoughts and presenting them to the reader as a singular closed argument. 

student writing an essay on his laptop

Photo by AMIT RANJAN on Unsplash

Steps to Writing an Essay

Now that you have a better idea of an essay’s structure and all the elements that go into it, you might be wondering what the different steps are to actually write your essay. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Instead of going in blind, follow these steps on how to write your essay from start to finish.

Understand Your Assignment

When writing an essay for an assignment, the first critical step is to make sure you’ve read through your assignment carefully and understand it thoroughly. You want to check what type of essay is required, that you understand the topic, and that you pay attention to any formatting or structural requirements. You don’t want to lose marks just because you didn’t read the assignment carefully.

Research Your Topic

Once you understand your assignment, it’s time to do some research. In this step, you should start looking at different sources to get ideas for what points you want to bring up throughout your essay. 

Search online or head to the library and get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to use them all, but it’s good to start with a lot and then narrow down your sources as you become more certain of your essay’s direction.

Start Brainstorming

After research comes the brainstorming. There are a lot of different ways to start the brainstorming process . Here are a few you might find helpful:

  • Think about what you found during your research that interested you the most
  • Jot down all your ideas, even if they’re not yet fully formed
  • Create word clouds or maps for similar terms or ideas that come up so you can group them together based on their similarities
  • Try freewriting to get all your ideas out before arranging them

Create a Thesis

This is often the most tricky part of the whole process since you want to create a thesis that’s strong and that you’re about to develop throughout the entire essay. Therefore, you want to choose a thesis statement that’s broad enough that you’ll have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be precise. 

Write Your Outline

Armed with your research, brainstorming sessions, and your thesis statement, the next step is to write an outline. 

In the outline, you’ll want to put your thesis statement at the beginning and start creating the basic skeleton of how you want your essay to look. 

A good way to tackle an essay is to use topic sentences . A topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement that is usually the first sentence of a new paragraph. This sentence introduces the main idea that will be detailed throughout the paragraph. 

If you create an outline with the topic sentences for your body paragraphs and then a few points of what you want to discuss, you’ll already have a strong starting point when it comes time to sit down and write. This brings us to our next step… 

Write a First Draft

The first time you write your entire essay doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get everything on the page so that you’re able to then write a second draft or review it afterward. 

Everyone’s writing process is different. Some students like to write their essay in the standard order of intro, body, and conclusion, while others prefer to start with the “meat” of the essay and tackle the body, and then fill in the other sections afterward. 

Make sure your essay follows your outline and that everything relates to your thesis statement and your points are backed up by the research you did. 

Revise, Edit, and Proofread

The revision process is one of the three main stages of writing an essay, yet many people skip this step thinking their work is done after the first draft is complete. 

However, proofreading, reviewing, and making edits on your essay can spell the difference between a B paper and an A.

After writing the first draft, try and set your essay aside for a few hours or even a day or two, and then come back to it with fresh eyes to review it. You might find mistakes or inconsistencies you missed or better ways to formulate your arguments.

Add the Finishing Touches

Finally, you’ll want to make sure everything that’s required is in your essay. Review your assignment again and see if all the requirements are there, such as formatting rules, citations, quotes, etc. 

Go over the order of your paragraphs and make sure everything makes sense, flows well, and uses the same writing style . 

Once everything is checked and all the last touches are added, give your essay a final read through just to ensure it’s as you want it before handing it in. 

A good way to do this is to read your essay out loud since you’ll be able to hear if there are any mistakes or inaccuracies.

Essay Writing Tips

With the steps outlined above, you should be able to craft a great essay. Still, there are some other handy tips we’d recommend just to ensure that the essay writing process goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Start your essay early. This is the first tip for a reason. It’s one of the most important things you can do to write a good essay. If you start it the night before, then you won’t have enough time to research, brainstorm, and outline — and you surely won’t have enough time to review.
  • Don’t try and write it in one sitting. It’s ok if you need to take breaks or write it over a few days. It’s better to write it in multiple sittings so that you have a fresh mind each time and you’re able to focus.
  • Always keep the essay question in mind. If you’re given an assigned question, then you should always keep it handy when writing your essay to make sure you’re always working to answer the question.
  • Use transitions between paragraphs. In order to improve the readability of your essay, try and make clear transitions between paragraphs. This means trying to relate the end of one paragraph to the beginning of the next one so the shift doesn’t seem random.
  • Integrate your research thoughtfully. Add in citations or quotes from your research materials to back up your thesis and main points. This will show that you did the research and that your thesis is backed up by it.

Wrapping Up

Writing an essay doesn’t need to be daunting if you know how to approach it. Using our essay writing steps and tips, you’ll have better knowledge on how to write an essay and you’ll be able to apply it to your next assignment. Once you do this a few times, it will become more natural to you and the essay writing process will become quicker and easier.

If you still need assistance with your essay, check with a student advisor to see if they offer help with writing. At University of the People(UoPeople), we always want our students to succeed, so our student advisors are ready to help with writing skills when necessary. 

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UPchieve connects you with knowledgeable and friendly college advisors—online, 24/7, and completely free. Get 1:1 help brainstorming topics, outlining your essay, revising a draft, or editing grammar.

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Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

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Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

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Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org.

  • If you are writing in a new discipline, you should always make sure to ask about conventions and expectations for introductions, just as you would for any other aspect of the essay. For example, while it may be acceptable to write a two-paragraph (or longer) introduction for your papers in some courses, instructors in other disciplines, such as those in some Government courses, may expect a shorter introduction that includes a preview of the argument that will follow.  
  • In some disciplines (Government, Economics, and others), it’s common to offer an overview in the introduction of what points you will make in your essay. In other disciplines, you will not be expected to provide this overview in your introduction.  
  • Avoid writing a very general opening sentence. While it may be true that “Since the dawn of time, people have been telling love stories,” it won’t help you explain what’s interesting about your topic.  
  • Avoid writing a “funnel” introduction in which you begin with a very broad statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad generalizations about a topic will not add to your readers’ understanding of your specific essay topic.  
  • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you will need to define it in detail later in your essay. If it’s not complicated, you can assume your readers already know the definition.  
  • Avoid offering too much detail in your introduction that a reader could better understand later in the paper.
  • picture_as_pdf Introductions

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How to Write the Perfect Essay

06 Feb, 2024 | Blog Articles , English Language Articles , Get the Edge , Humanities Articles , Writing Articles

Student sitting at a desk writing in a notebook

You can keep adding to this plan, crossing bits out and linking the different bubbles when you spot connections between them. Even though you won’t have time to make a detailed plan under exam conditions, it can be helpful to draft a brief one, including a few key words, so that you don’t panic and go off topic when writing your essay.

If you don’t like the mind map format, there are plenty of others to choose from: you could make a table, a flowchart, or simply a list of bullet points.

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Thanks for signing up, step 2: have a clear structure.

Think about this while you’re planning: your essay is like an argument or a speech. It needs to have a logical structure, with all your points coming together to answer the question.

Start with the basics! It’s best to choose a few major points which will become your main paragraphs. Three main paragraphs is a good number for an exam essay, since you’ll be under time pressure. 

If you agree with the question overall, it can be helpful to organise your points in the following pattern:

  • YES (agreement with the question)
  • AND (another YES point)
  • BUT (disagreement or complication)

If you disagree with the question overall, try:

  • AND (another BUT point)

For example, you could structure the Of Mice and Men sample question, “To what extent is Curley’s wife portrayed as a victim in Of Mice and Men ?”, as follows:

  • YES (descriptions of her appearance)
  • AND (other people’s attitudes towards her)
  • BUT (her position as the only woman on the ranch gives her power as she uses her femininity to her advantage)

If you wanted to write a longer essay, you could include additional paragraphs under the YES/AND categories, perhaps discussing the ways in which Curley’s wife reveals her vulnerability and insecurities, and shares her dreams with the other characters. Alternatively, you could also lengthen your essay by including another BUT paragraph about her cruel and manipulative streak.

Of course, this is not necessarily the only right way to answer this essay question – as long as you back up your points with evidence from the text, you can take any standpoint that makes sense.

Smiling student typing on laptop

Step 3: Back up your points with well-analysed quotations

You wouldn’t write a scientific report without including evidence to support your findings, so why should it be any different with an essay? Even though you aren’t strictly required to substantiate every single point you make with a quotation, there’s no harm in trying.

A close reading of your quotations can enrich your appreciation of the question and will be sure to impress examiners. When selecting the best quotations to use in your essay, keep an eye out for specific literary techniques. For example, you could highlight Curley’s wife’s use of a rhetorical question when she says, a”n’ what am I doin’? Standin’ here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs.” This might look like:

The rhetorical question “an’ what am I doin’?” signifies that Curley’s wife is very insecure; she seems to be questioning her own life choices. Moreover, she does not expect anyone to respond to her question, highlighting her loneliness and isolation on the ranch.

Other literary techniques to look out for include:

  • Tricolon – a group of three words or phrases placed close together for emphasis
  • Tautology – using different words that mean the same thing: e.g. “frightening” and “terrifying”
  • Parallelism – ABAB structure, often signifying movement from one concept to another
  • Chiasmus – ABBA structure, drawing attention to a phrase
  • Polysyndeton – many conjunctions in a sentence
  • Asyndeton – lack of conjunctions, which can speed up the pace of a sentence
  • Polyptoton – using the same word in different forms for emphasis: e.g. “done” and “doing”
  • Alliteration – repetition of the same sound, including assonance (similar vowel sounds), plosive alliteration (“b”, “d” and “p” sounds) and sibilance (“s” sounds)
  • Anaphora – repetition of words, often used to emphasise a particular point

Don’t worry if you can’t locate all of these literary devices in the work you’re analysing. You can also discuss more obvious techniques, like metaphor, simile and onomatopoeia. It’s not a problem if you can’t remember all the long names; it’s far more important to be able to confidently explain the effects of each technique and highlight its relevance to the question.

Person reading a book outside

Step 4: Be creative and original throughout

Anyone can write an essay using the tips above, but the thing that really makes it “perfect” is your own unique take on the topic. If you’ve noticed something intriguing or unusual in your reading, point it out – if you find it interesting, chances are the examiner will too!

Creative writing and essay writing are more closely linked than you might imagine. Keep the idea that you’re writing a speech or argument in mind, and you’re guaranteed to grab your reader’s attention.

It’s important to set out your line of argument in your introduction, introducing your main points and the general direction your essay will take, but don’t forget to keep something back for the conclusion, too. Yes, you need to summarise your main points, but if you’re just repeating the things you said in your introduction, the body of the essay is rendered pointless.

Think of your conclusion as the climax of your speech, the bit everything else has been leading up to, rather than the boring plenary at the end of the interesting stuff.

To return to Of Mice and Men once more, here’s an example of the ideal difference between an introduction and a conclusion:

Introduction

In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men , Curley’s wife is portrayed as an ambiguous character. She could be viewed either as a cruel, seductive temptress or a lonely woman who is a victim of her society’s attitudes. Though she does seem to wield a form of sexual power, it is clear that Curley’s wife is largely a victim. This interpretation is supported by Steinbeck’s description of her appearance, other people’s attitudes, her dreams, and her evident loneliness and insecurity.
Overall, it is clear that Curley’s wife is a victim and is portrayed as such throughout the novel in the descriptions of her appearance, her dreams, other people’s judgemental attitudes, and her loneliness and insecurities. However, a character who was a victim and nothing else would be one-dimensional and Curley’s wife is not. Although she suffers in many ways, she is shown to assert herself through the manipulation of her femininity – a small rebellion against the victimisation she experiences.

Both refer back consistently to the question and summarise the essay’s main points. However, the conclusion adds something new which has been established in the main body of the essay and complicates the simple summary which is found in the introduction.

Hannah

Hannah is an undergraduate English student at Somerville College, University of Oxford, and has a particular interest in postcolonial literature and the Gothic. She thinks literature is a crucial way of developing empathy and learning about the wider world. When she isn’t writing about 17th-century court masques, she enjoys acting, travelling and creative writing. 

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How to Write a Persuasive Essay?

How to Write a Persuasive Essay?

  • Smodin Editorial Team
  • Updated: May 5, 2024

At first glance, crafting a persuasive essay might seem like a walk in the park. You choose a stance, gather supporting evidence, and present it to your audience. But is it really that simple?

As any student or teacher knows, not every persuasive essay is a straight A. If you’ve ever submitted your work expecting a top grade only to receive feedback that your argument was flawed or unconvincing, you know the frustration it may bring.

The truth is that crafting a persuasive argument requires more than just presenting facts. You need to appeal to your readers’ logic and emotions . Your narrative must make sense, be enjoyable to read, and also be unique.

Today, we will cover six simple ways to propel your persuasive essays to the next level so that you can bring home any grade you desire.

1. Don’t Rush the Process

Did you know that every word of published content undergoes multiple revisions? This is true for articles, blogs, books, periodicals, and essays.

In an academic setting, many students assume that the one or two drafts that make their way to the grading pile are the only ones that matter, but that isn’t the case.

Good writing requires numerous revisions to get it right. If you want your persuasive essay to stand out from the rest, it’s always good to write at least one draft before you submit it for grading.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier to generate a high-quality essay. Tools like Smodin’s Essay Writer can help you develop content with just a few short words.

Unlike many other AI tools, Smodin gives you complete control of the process. You’ll be able to create an engaging essay with a clear flow that is a joy for your teacher or professor to read.

The software’s AI-powered algorithms also generate accurate references from Google Scholar and other selected resources.

Instead of sitting at your desk, pulling your hair out of frustration, let Smodin guide you through the essay writing process with confidence.

2. Know Your Audience

One crucial yet often underestimated aspect of essay writing is understanding your audience. This means knowing who your readers are and tailoring your writing to resonate with their core emotions.

For example, if you’re a student writing an essay for a history class, your audience is simple: it’s your professor.

Similarly, suppose you’re writing an essay for a scholarly journal or publication. In that case, your audience will include the people who approve the essay for publication and the readers who will eventually see it once it’s publicly shared.

Many people fail at essay writing simply because they don’t study their core audience. 

You must remember that your readers are human beings, and all human beings have certain biases and preferences.

Understanding these biases and preferences can help you craft your essay in a way that appeals directly to your reader’s interests and beliefs.

Do everything you can to study your audience. Get in their heads and figure out how they think, and then use this knowledge to appeal to their core emotions.

Professional copywriters get paid big bucks to understand their readers’ emotions when selling goods or services. You might not be “selling” anything in a monetary sense, but you are selling your writing to achieve the desired result.

To become a successful essay writer, start to think like a salesperson. What would impress your reader? What can you write about that no one else is writing about?

Once you figure that out, you’ve already done half the work.

3. Understand the Modes of Persuasion

Now that you fully understand your audience, the next step is crafting a compelling argument. Here, take a moment to understand the three forms of reasoning.

Ethos refers to establishing your credibility or character as a writer. To effectively persuade your audience, the reader(s) must see you as trustworthy and knowledgeable about your topic.

Demonstrating a solid understanding of the subject matter and that you have put in the time and effort to master it.

Pathos, on the other hand, appeals to your readers’ emotions. The goal is to make your readers feel something, influencing their perspective or decision-making process.

For students, this may mean tapping into the topic’s emotional undercurrents or appealing to certain biases to engage the teacher or professor.

This means structuring your essay in a way that makes logical sense and using statistics, factual evidence, and sound reasoning to back up your claims. All arguments should have a strong, rational foundation.

To effectively write a persuasive essay, you must combine ethos, pathos, and logos.

Remember, teachers, professors, editors, and review board members have tens, if not hundreds, of essays to read. You must craft a comprehensive argument that hits all the buttons to stand out.

If you’re desperate to get an A on your upcoming essay, consider using Smodin’s AI Grader to get personalized feedback on your essay or article.

This way, you can take your essay and revise it before submitting it. And that’s undoubtedly better than begging a teacher or professor to grant you a rewrite.

4. Directly Address Opposing Arguments

It’s one thing to pick a position and stick to it; it’s another to ignore opposing views completely.

When crafting a compelling argument, you must—at some point—address dissenting opinions and points of view. Failing to do this will only weaken your own argument. Here are a few tips to incorporate this effectively into your writing.

Know the Counterarguments

You can only address opposing arguments if you research them first. Study a topic’s counterarguments just as much as you study your position.

When discussing opposing arguments, you need to be objective and free of bias. If you misrepresent or oversimplify these things, you will undermine your credibility and weaken your essay.

Use Rebuttal Techniques

Once you’ve addressed the opposing view, you must rebut it using logical reasoning, evidence, and other persuasive techniques. (Think like a lawyer.) Here are a few common strategies.

  • Evidence-based techniques: Simply use more recent data or studies to challenge the validity of the opposing argument.
  • Logic techniques: No argument is 100% (even yours). Identify the fallacies in the opposing argument and explain why the conclusion is flawed.
  • Comparative techniques: Lastly, directly compare your thesis and explain why your viewpoint is more sound. If done correctly, this can be your essay’s most validating point.

Link EVERYTHING Back to Your Thesis

While researching a topic, you may find yourself buried in a pile of peripheral arguments that may or may not relate to the topic at hand. Cut it if you can’t directly link an argument or counterargument to your thesis.

Don’t be Afraid To Concede

As counterintuitive as it may seem, acknowledging the strength of a counterargument can enhance your credibility. You can concede a point without undermining your overall position by showing that your thesis still stands regardless of the concessions.

Of course, sifting through dozens of academic articles or essays can be time-consuming. To greatly expedite the research process, you can use Smodin’s Text Summarizer to analyze large bodies of text and condense them into something more digestible.

5. Write in Your Voice — And Always Read Your Writing Out Loud

Don’t spend too much time trying to use fancy words or complicated sentences. Yes, grammar, syntax, and punctuation are essential, but your main focus should always be clear and genuine communication.

Occasionally consulting a thesaurus is no big deal, but if you’re constantly fluffing your text with words that feel unnatural, you’re probably detracting from your essay’s message.

Reading your essay out loud is a great way to check its flow. If you try to read your own words and stumble over them, chances are something is wrong.

Good writing should flow seamlessly from one word to the next, from one sentence to the next, and from one paragraph to the next.

Ideally, you should be able to sit on your essay for a while — say three days or up to a week — and then come back to it when your mind is fresh.

Read your words with a clear mind and see if you can follow the logic of your own argument. If it doesn’t sound right, consider using Smodin’s AI re-writer.

This tool can examine your own writing and revise it to make it sound fresh or take existing content and edit it to make it sound completely unique.

6. Always Maintain Academic Integrity

This probably goes without saying, but you should always do your absolute best to maintain academic integrity with your writing. The last thing you want is to be flagged for plagiarized or AI-generated content.

Thankfully, these are two areas where Smodin can help. Our AI Content Detector can easily detect whether your writing contains AI-generated content. At the same time, our Plagiarism Checker can ensure your essay doesn’t contain any direct text from published academic articles.

Taken together, Smodin’s AI offers a comprehensive toolset that gives students and academics everything they need to write a persuasive essay.

Try Smodin for free today to see if It is what you need to improve your writing.

Q: How Do I Choose a Strong Stance for My Persuasive Essay?

Select a topic that you are passionate about AND for which you can find ample supporting evidence. You should also choose a topic that allows for a clear argument against the opposing side.

Q: What Are the Best Places To Find Supporting Evidence for My Essay?

Scholarly journals, news organizations, or books from respected and well-known academic authors are always a good place to start. You can use tools like Google Scholar or JSTOR to scope out academically accepted articles and data.

Q: How Can I Be Sure My Persuasive Essay Is Easy To Read?

You always want to use a clear and engaging writing style. Ideally, you should write in a unique way that helps you stand out from the other essays. Including interesting facts or anecdotes in a logical and easy-to-follow manner and using variety in sentence structure and vocabulary can also enhance readability. Just don’t force it.

Q: How Can I Strengthen My Rebuttal of the Opposing Arguments?

Understanding the counterarguments is the first step to overcoming them. When you respond to an argument with well-researched evidence that presents a better solution or perspective, you solidify your case and make it more compelling and credible to your reader(s).

Q: What if I Want To Change My Thesis After I Begin Writing?

If you find better evidence for an argument while doing your research, revising your thesis halfway through the writing process is perfectly fine. This adaptability will only strengthen your writing in the long run.

Q: How Long Should I Spend on Research?

Generally, spend as much time as you need to understand the topic without wasting too much time. It’s common to waste hours or days on research without writing a single word. Again, AI tools like Smodin can help with procedural tasks and free up your mind for more exciting tasks.

Q: What Is the Best Way To Conclude a Persuasive Essay?

A strong conclusion should be thorough without being overly wordy. You want to restate your thesis in light of the arguments you presented and summarize the main points of your essay. Consider leaving a call-to-action or a thought-provoking question in the last paragraph that will leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Writing a winning persuasive essay involves more than presenting arguments and facts. You need to carefully craft a narrative that appeals to your reader’s logic, emotions, and ethical values.

By tapping into AI tools like Smodin AI, you can outline strategies, conduct research, and expedite the writing process with just a few simple prompts and minutes of your time.

You must make a well-rounded effort to ensure your essays are streamlined, powerful, and highly engaging. This type of writing will resonate with academic readers and ensure you get the desired grade.

Do your best to enjoy the writing process and learn to have fun with it. With these new AI-enhanced technological advancements at your fingertips, essay writing can be more accessible than ever before. Tap into their unlimited power to make your writing stand out in any academic setting!

how to write a an essay

How to Write an Essay – Best Method Explained

B efore we dive into this article, we highly recommend you check out bestessaywriter.net if you are looking to get your essay written by highly qualified writers with over 30 years of experience. 

Are you passionate about a topic and eager to share it? Write an essay! Do you disagree with a common viewpoint and want to persuade others to see it your way? Write an essay! Are you required to submit a piece of writing to get into your dream college? Write an essay! 

Writing essays is a powerful way to express your thoughts, challenge prevailing opinions, and fulfill academic requirements. Whether you're driven by passion or necessity, crafting a well-thought-out essay can make a significant impact. 

The term "essay" broadly describes any written piece where the author presents their viewpoint on a topic. This can be academic, editorial, or even humorous in nature. Despite the vast number of approaches and topics available, successful essay writing generally adheres to a consistent framework. 

Good essays are structured effectively to guide the reader through the author's arguments and insights. Whether you're exploring complex theories or sharing personal experiences, a clear, logical structure is key to making your essay compelling and coherent. 

In the following sections, we'll dive into that framework and explain how you can apply it to your essays, regardless of their type. But first, let's begin with a basic overview of essay writing. 

How to Write an Essay 

If you are having trouble writing an essay, you can hire an essay writer from BestEssayWriter.net but if you want to learn how to write an essay on your own, we will lay down the exact steps in this guide.  

Steps to write an essay: 

  • Generate Ideas and Choose a Type of Essay : Start by brainstorming potential topics and deciding on the type of essay you want to write, whether it's persuasive, descriptive, expository, or another style. 
  • Outline Your Essay : Plan your essay by outlining each paragraph. This helps organize your thoughts and ensures a logical flow of information. 
  • Write a Rough Draft : Begin with a rough draft, focusing on getting your ideas down on paper. Don't worry about perfect word choice or grammar at this stage. 
  • Edit and Revise : After completing your rough draft, go back and refine it. Pay attention to details like word choice, sentence structure, and overall coherence. 
  • Proofread : Finally, review your essay for any typos, errors, or other issues that might detract from your message. 

We'll explore each of these steps in more detail below, but first, let's focus on a crucial element of any effective essay: choosing the right topic. 

Crafting Your Essay's Thesis Statement 

Before you start writing your essay, there are three critical aspects to consider: 

  • Thesis  
  • Type  
  • Audience  

Among these, the thesis is the most crucial. It represents the core argument or main point of your essay. For instance, Bertrand Russell's thesis in "In Praise of Idleness" argues that society overly prioritizes work, neglecting the value of leisure. 

Your thesis statement should encapsulate this central idea. It's what you want your readers to remember most when they finish reading. If you're struggling to define your thesis, ask yourself: "What's the one thing I want my readers to remember?" 

It's best to state your thesis early, ideally in the first few sentences, and to reiterate it throughout your essay, particularly in the conclusion. This repetition ensures that your central idea is clear and resonant. 

The rest of your essay should support this thesis. You can use various forms of evidence to bolster your argument, including empirical data, testimonials, logical reasoning, or persuasive language. The key is to consistently build upon your initial thesis without veering off into unrelated topics. 

The Essay-Writing Process 

Writing encompasses a range of formats, from essays and research papers to novels, poems, screenplays, and blog articles. No matter the format, following an efficient writing process is essential. Even if you begin with a stream-of-consciousness style for your rough draft, a structured system is crucial for revision and refinement. 

Here’s a five-step writing process recommended for essay writing:  

  • Brainstorming : Start by gathering your thoughts. Based on your prompt or thesis, generate as many ideas as you can. This is your chance to think freely and note down everything that comes to mind, knowing you can later discard what doesn’t fit. 
  • Preparing : In this stage, you filter and organize your ideas. Select those that best support your thesis and arrange them logically. This phase also involves outlining your essay’s structure and gathering resources for evidence. If your essay requires citations, now is the time to collect these, following the appropriate style guide (MLA, APA, or Chicago) depending on your academic or publication requirements. 
  • Drafting : Now, you write your first draft. Don’t aim for perfection. The goal is to get your ideas down on paper. Focusing too much on perfecting each word can detract from the overall flow of your essay. 
  • Revising : This involves multiple drafts. Here, refine your essay by enhancing word choice, clarity, and overall flow. Avoid common pitfalls like passive voice and run-on sentences. Tools like Grammarly can be particularly helpful in this stage, offering suggestions for sentence structure and clarity to ensure your writing is concise and readable. 
  • Proofreading : After revising, the final step is proofreading. This is your chance to catch any misspellings, grammatical errors, or formatting issues. Using a tool like Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant can be beneficial for catching these common mistakes, providing instant feedback to refine your essay further. 

This structured approach helps maintain focus throughout the writing process, ensuring that each part of your essay contributes effectively to the whole. 

Essay Structure: An Overview 

The structure of an essay typically adheres to a simple format of introduction, body, and conclusion. However, the content within these sections is what truly makes an essay effective. 

Introduction : The introduction sets the stage for your essay. It follows general writing guidelines but places extra emphasis on presenting the thesis statement prominently, ideally within the first few sentences. By the end of your introductory paragraph, the reader should clearly understand the topic of your essay. Following conventional best practices for writing an introduction will ensure a strong start. 

Body Paragraphs : The body forms the bulk of your essay. Here, each paragraph supports your thesis with evidence. How you organize these paragraphs is crucial. In cases where arguments build on each other, a logical progression ensures clarity and enhances the reader's understanding. It's important to remember that the reader may not be as familiar with the subject as you are, so the structure should aid their comprehension. 

When writing an argumentative essay, the organization of points can vary. You might start with your own argument, presenting evidence before introducing opposing views, or you might begin by addressing the opposition's views and then refute them. The arrangement depends on the strategy you choose: 

  • Aristotelian (Classical) : Focuses on establishing the validity of your position. 
  • Rogerian : Acknowledges the opposing perspectives before presenting a middle ground. 
  • Toulmin : Breaks down arguments into their fundamental parts, including counter-arguments and supporting evidence. 

For simpler essays, a straightforward approach can be effective: 

  • Your Point : Clearly state your argument. 
  • Counterpoint : Introduce opposing viewpoints. 
  • Evidence : Provide evidence that supports your point and/or refutes the counterpoint. 

This basic framework ensures that your essay is not only structured and coherent but also persuasive and comprehensive. 

Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Essay 

The conclusion of an essay serves to effectively summarize and reinforce your thesis, making it digestible and memorable for the reader. It's the final opportunity to solidify your arguments and leave a lasting impression. 

A good conclusion will: 

  • Restate the Thesis : Reiterate your main argument to remind the reader of its importance and relevance. 
  • Summarize Key Points : Briefly recap the major arguments or evidence presented in the body paragraphs to reinforce the thesis. 
  • Offer Closure : Provide a final statement that signals the essay is coming to an end, often linking back to the broader implications of your argument. 

While it's tempting to introduce new ideas or fresh perspectives in the conclusion, it's important to avoid presenting new evidence or arguments that weren't previously discussed. Instead, you can: 

  • Provide Context : Expand on the implications of your thesis in a broader context, suggesting areas for further exploration or the potential impact of your findings. 
  • Reflect on the Journey : Acknowledge any changes in perspective or insights gained through the process of writing the essay. 

The conclusion should leave the reader with a clear understanding of your central thesis and the confidence that the essay has fully explored and supported that thesis. By effectively wrapping up your essay, you ensure that your ideas resonate with the reader long after they finish reading. 

The Five-Paragraph Essay: A Simple Structure 

The five-paragraph essay is a straightforward and efficient structure ideal for short, time-constrained writing tasks. This format is especially useful during exams or when a quick response is required. Here’s how it breaks down: 

  • Introduction Paragraph : This is where you introduce the topic and present your thesis statement. The introduction sets the stage for the discussion and aims to grab the reader's interest. 
  • Three Body Paragraphs : Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea that supports your thesis, elaborated with examples, facts, or arguments. This is the core section where you develop your thesis and make your case to the reader. 
  • Conclusion Paragraph : The conclusion summarizes the main points and restates the thesis in light of the evidence presented. It should bring a sense of closure and completeness to the essay, reinforcing your initial argument and perhaps suggesting broader implications or future considerations. 

While the five-paragraph essay structure may not accommodate more complex or nuanced topics, its simplicity and clarity make it highly effective for straightforward subjects and settings where clarity and brevity are essential. This structure ensures that your essay is organized and coherent, making it easier for the reader to follow and understand your points quickly. 

Understanding Your Essay's Audience 

Knowing who will read your essay is crucial—it influences everything from the tone to the complexity of your language. Your audience can range from a teacher or admissions counselor to your peers or a broader internet audience. Each group has different expectations and preferences that should guide how you write. 

Formality : The level of formality required often depends on your readers. Academic and professional settings typically demand a formal tone, precise word choice, and a structured approach. In contrast, a blog post or a piece for your peers might allow for a more relaxed style. 

Language and Style : Consider the familiarity of your audience with the subject matter. This understanding will determine how much background information you need to provide and how complex your vocabulary should be. For example, technical jargon might be appropriate for a specialist audience but confusing for general readers. 

Use of Language Devices : Devices like emojis can enhance a casual piece by adding personality and aiding emotional expression. However, they are generally inappropriate in formal essays where they can seem unprofessional and out of place. 

Tailoring your essay to your audience not only makes your writing more effective but also ensures that it is received and understood as intended. Whether you’re drafting a formal research paper or a casual blog post, considering your audience’s expectations will lead to clearer, more effective communication. 

Exploring the Six Common Types of Essays 

Essays can vary significantly in style and purpose, often dictated by the assignment or the writer's intent. Understanding the different types of essays can enhance your ability to choose the most effective approach for your writing. Here are six common types of essays that you might encounter: 

Argumentative Essay 

Argumentative essays are foundational in academic settings, primarily aiming to assert and defend a position. These essays require you to present a strong case for your viewpoint, making them a staple in many school assignments, especially in college. 

Admissions Essay 

Used in college applications, admissions essays ask you to explain why you are interested in a particular school. This type of essay is your opportunity to communicate your passion, goals, and suitability for a college program. 

Persuasive Essay 

Similar to argumentative essays, persuasive essays aim to convince the reader of a specific viewpoint. However, the key difference lies in the intent; persuasive essays not only present an argument but also seek to persuade the reader to adopt this perspective, often through emotional appeal and logical reasoning. 

Compare-and-Contrast Essay 

This format is ideal for discussing two opposing viewpoints or different aspects of a topic, giving equal attention to each. Compare-and-contrast essays are excellent for exploring the similarities and differences between two subjects, providing a balanced view without bias toward one side. 

Personal Essay 

Personal essays are narrative in nature, often relaying anecdotes or personal experiences. Writers like David Sedaris excel in this form, offering stories that resonate on a personal level. While these essays may have a thesis, it is often more interpretive, reflecting personal growth or insights. 

Expository Essay 

Expository essays are informative, explaining a topic in detail to enhance the reader's understanding. Unlike argumentative or persuasive essays, they maintain an objective tone, presenting facts without personal bias. 

Each type of essay serves a different purpose and requires a specific approach. Whether you're arguing a point, sharing a personal story, or providing an objective explanation, understanding these distinctions can help you craft more effective, tailored content. 

Enhancing Your Essay Writing Skills 

Mastering the fundamentals .

To excel in essay writing, especially in academic settings, mastering the fundamentals is crucial. Understanding essay structure and the writing process is essential, but your ability to apply these concepts is what will truly make your essays stand out. Focus on developing your thesis logically and coherently, using an appropriate language style, and ensuring that your references and citations are reliable. For advanced tips that build on these basics, consider exploring more detailed guides on improving your essay skills. 

Getting Feedback 

One of the best ways to improve your writing is to seek feedback. Having someone else review your work can provide new insights and catch errors that you might have missed. This is because working on the same piece can lead to tunnel vision. If possible, exchange essays with a friend for mutual editing, utilize writing centers, or join online writing communities. If these options aren't available, taking a break and revisiting your work with fresh eyes can also be very beneficial. 

The Importance of Grammar and Form 

How you present your ideas can be as important as the ideas themselves. Even a strong, clear thesis can be undermined by poor grammar, confusing structure, or unclear writing. For essays that need to make a strong impact, consider tools like Grammarly Premium, which offers sentence restructuring for clarity, grammar corrections, and readability enhancements. These tools are also invaluable for non-native English speakers looking to refine their language skills. 

Focusing on these elements will not only improve the clarity and persuasiveness of your essays but also enhance your overall writing skills, making your arguments more compelling and your points clearer to your reader. 

How to Write an Essay – Best Method Explained

More From Forbes

How to make your first 90 days count as a leader.

Forbes Coaches Council

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Carol J. Geffner is president of CB Vision and a sought-after coach and consultant. She is the author of Building a New Leadership Ladder.

Candidates for leadership roles are often asked about their first 90 days, and there is a good reason why. Incoming leaders only have a short period of time to set the tone for how they will lead, establish boundaries and identify and clarify goals.

McKinsey & Company maintains that leadership transitions are such “high-stakes, high-tension events” that they even rank above bereavement, divorce and health issues in terms of difficulty. Whether or not everyone would agree with this assessment, there is no question that leadership transitions are difficult, which is why it is essential to understand how to make the most of your first 90 days.

Pace Yourself

Coming into a new role, you’ll likely arrive with a lot of energy and curiosity, but even if this is the case, be certain to pace yourself. Scheduling back-to-back individual or group meetings every day for weeks on end isn’t just overwhelming. It may also prevent you from showing up as your best self in initial meetings.

After all, listening, which is what you’ll be doing for much of your first 90 days, isn’t a passive practice. It takes energy, attention, curiosity and empathy. Consider this a great opportunity to get to know your new executive assistant. Also, engage them in helping you schedule meetings with the right stakeholders at the right pace and in the right sequence.

Apple iPad 2024 Release Date: Your Final, Complete Guide To What And When

Katy perry met gala dresses go viral but they re ai fakes, huawei pura 70 ultra: global version just available with features that outdo samsung galaxy, launch a listening tour.

To make the most of your listening tour, you’ll need to first identify which stakeholders to engage. While some may be obvious (e.g., holding one-on-one meetings with all your direct reports), other stakeholders may not be as obvious. One strategy is to start with your direct reports and ask them who else you should talk to during your first 90 days.

While engaging direct reports and other internal stakeholders, always stay focused on the nature of the tasks at hand: to engage in a structured conversation and to listen with intention. In other words, don’t treat these encounters like any other conversation. Arrive knowing what you intend to ask and why.

Also, take notes. Record each person’s name, title, years of service to the organization and their responses to specific questions. For example, you might ask each team member to describe their job function, reflect upon the organization’s greatest strengths and weaknesses and discuss which projects they are working on at this moment. Remember that asking great questions, including follow-up questions that dig deeper, and soliciting feedback are also powerful ways to build rapport with your new team members.

Spend Time With External Stakeholders

In nearly all leadership roles, external stakeholders also matter. These stakeholders can vary depending on your organization and industry but may include anyone from key players in your supply chain to the leaders of competitive organizations in your sector. Carve out time to engage as many key external stakeholders as possible.

Reflect On And Share Back What You’ve Learned

When you complete your listening tour, reflect on recurring themes. Also, identify contradictions. As needed, ask follow-up questions or dig into available data to verify accounts and claims. Create an anonymized version of your findings and share a high-level overview with your team.

Remember that you’re only an outsider once, and outsiders can often see things that insiders can’t see. Sharing what you saw coming in from the outside during your first 90 days can be incredibly eye-opening for everyone on your team.

Write Goals

When you reach the end of your first 90 days, take time out to write down your goals. Strive to articulate goals that are challenging but doable. One way to do this is to focus on goals that you can visualize. After all, goals that can’t be visualized are far more difficult to achieve.

Final Thoughts

Your first 90 days will likely fly by, but ensure you don’t forget them in the future. What you were able to see as an outsider coming in is a valuable perspective—one unmired by the company’s history and by personal relationships. Keep a snapshot of this perspective top of mind as you move forward.

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

Carol Geffner

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The best new science fiction books of May 2024

A new Stephen King short story collection, an Ursula K. Le Guin reissue and a celebration of cyberpunk featuring writing from Philip K. Dick and Cory Doctorow are among the new science fiction titles published this month

By Alison Flood

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A new short story collection from Stephen King, You Like It Darker, is out in May

Shane Leonard

Every month, I trawl through publishers’ catalogues so I can tell you about the new science fiction being released. And every month, I’m disappointed to see so much more fantasy on publishers’ lists than sci-fi. I know it’s a response to the huge boom in readers of what’s been dubbed “ romantasy ”, and I’m not knocking it – I love that sort of book too. But it would be great to see more good, hard, mind-expanding sci-fi in the offing as well.

In the meantime, there is definitely enough for us sci-fi fans to sink our teeth into this month, whether it’s a reissue of classic writing from Ursula K. Le Guin, some new speculative short stories from Stephen King or murder in space from Victor Manibo and S. A. Barnes.

Last month, I tipped Douglas Preston’s Extinction and Sofia Samatar’s The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain as books I was looking forward to. I can report that they were both excellent: Extinction was a lot of good, clean, Jurassic Park -tinged fun, while Samatar’s offering was a beautiful and thought-provoking look at life on a generation ship.

The Language of the Night: Essays on writing, science fiction, and fantasy by Ursula K. Le Guin

There are few sci-fi and fantasy writers more brilliant (and revered) than Ursula K. Le Guin. This reissue of her first full-length collection of essays features a new introduction from Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ken Liu and covers the writing of The Left Hand of Darkness and A Wizard of Earthsea , as well as her advocacy for sci-fi and fantasy as legitimate literary mediums. I’ve read some of these essays but not all, and I won’t be missing this collection.

Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen

This isn’t science fiction, not quite, but it is one of the best and most important books I have read for some time. It sees Jacobsen lay out, minute by minute, what would happen if an intercontinental ballistic missile hit Washington DC. How would the US react? What, exactly, happens if deterrence fails? Jacobsen has spoken to dozens of military experts to put together what her publisher calls a “non-fiction thriller”, and what I call the scariest book I have possibly ever read (and I’m a Stephen King fan; see below). We’re currently reading it at the New Scientist Book Club, and you can sign up to join us here .

Read an extract from Nuclear War: A scenario by Annie Jacobsen

In this terrifying extract from Annie Jacobsen’s Nuclear War: A Scenario, the author lays out what would happen in the first seconds after a nuclear missile hits the Pentagon

The Big Book of Cyberpunk (Vol 1 & 2)

Forty years ago, William Gibson published Neuromancer . Since then, it has entranced millions of readers right from its unforgettable opening line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel…”. Neuromancer gave us the literary genre that is cyberpunk, and we can now welcome a huge, two-volume anthology celebrating cyberpunk’s best stories, by writers from Cory Doctorow to Justina Robson, and from Samuel R. Delaney to Philip K. Dick. I have both glorious-sounding volumes, brought together by anthologist Jared Shurin, on my desk (using up most of the space on it), and I am looking forward to dipping in.

You Like It Darker by Stephen King

You could categorise Stephen King as a horror writer. I see him as an expert chronicler of the dark side of small-town America, and from The Tommyknockers and its aliens to Under the Dome with its literally divisive trope, he frequently slides into sci-fi. Even the horror at the heart of It is some sort of cosmic hideousness. He is one of my favourite writers, and You Like It Darker is a new collection of short stories that moves from “the folds in reality where anything can happen” to a “psychic flash” that upends dozens of lives. There’s a sequel to Cujo , and a look at “corners of the universe best left unexplored”. I’ve read the first story so far, and I can confirm there is plenty for us sci-fi fans here.

Enlightenment by Sarah Perry

Not sci-fi, but fiction about science – and from one of the UK’s most exciting writers (if you haven’t read The Essex Serpent yet, you’re in for a treat). This time, Perry tells the story of Thomas Hart, a columnist on the Essex Chronicle who becomes a passionate amateur astronomer as the comet Hale-Bopp approaches in 1997. Our sci-fi columnist Emily Wilson is reviewing it for New Scientist ’s 11 May issue, and she has given it a vigorous thumbs up (“a beautiful, compassionate and memorable book,” she writes in a sneak preview just for you guys).

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Dr Ophelia Bray is a psychologist and expert in the study of Eckhart-Reiser syndrome, a fictional condition that affects space travellers in terrible ways. She’s sent to help a small crew whose colleague recently died, but as they begin life on an abandoned planet, she realises that her charges are hiding something. And then the pilot is murdered… Horror in space? Mysterious planets? I’m up for that.

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In Hey, Zoey, the protagonist finds an animatronic sex doll hidden in her garage

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Hey, Zoey by Sarah Crossan

Hot on the heels of Sierra Greer’s story about a sex robot wondering what it means to be human in Annie Bot , the acclaimed young adult and children’s author Sarah Crossan has ventured into similar territory. In Hey, Zoey , Dolores finds an animatronic sex doll hidden in her garage and assumes it belongs to her husband David. She takes no action – but then Dolores and Zoey begin to talk, and Dolores’s life changes.

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler

Davi has tried to take down the Dark Lord before, rallying humanity and making the final charge – as you do. But the time loop she is stuck in always defeats her, and she loses the battle in the end. This time around, Davi decides that the best thing to do is to become the Dark Lord herself. You could argue that this is fantasy, but it has a time loop, so I’m going to count it as sci-fi. It sounds fun and lighthearted: quotes from early readers are along the lines of “A darkly comic delight”, and we could all use a bit of that these days.

Escape Velocity by Victor Manibo

It’s 2089, and there’s an old murder hanging over the clientele of Space Habitat Altaire, a luxury space hotel, while an “unforeseen threat” is also brewing in the service corridors. A thriller in space? Sounds excellent – and I’m keen to see if Manibo makes use of the latest research into the angle at which blood might travel following violence in space, as reported on by our New Scientist humour columnist Marc Abrahams recently.

The best new science fiction books of March 2024

With a new Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mars-set romance from Natasha Pulley and a high-concept thriller from Stuart Turton due to hit shelves, there is plenty of great new science fiction to be reading in March

In Our Stars by Jack Campbell

Part of the Doomed Earth series, this follows Lieutenant Selene Genji, who has been genetically engineered with partly alien DNA and has “one last chance to save the Earth from destruction”. Beautifully retro cover for this space adventure – not to judge a book in this way, of course…

The Downloaded by Robert J. Sawyer

Two sets of people have had their minds uploaded into a quantum computer in the Ontario of 2059. Astronauts preparing for the world’s first interstellar voyage form one group; the other contains convicted murderers, sentenced to a virtual-reality prison. Naturally, disaster strikes, and, yup, they must work together to save Earth from destruction. Originally released as an Audible Original with Brendan Fraser as lead narrator, this is the first print edition of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Sawyer’s 26 th novel.

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Just in case you still haven’t read it, Justin Cronin’s gloriously dreamy novel The Ferryman , set on an apparently utopian island where things aren’t quite as they seem, is out in paperback this month. It was the first pick for the New Scientist Book Club, and it is a mind-bending, dreamy stunner of a read. Go try it – and sign up for the Book Club in the meantime!

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Guest Essay

Saying Goodbye to My Brilliant Friend, the Poetry Critic Helen Vendler

Two books, with nothing on their covers, sitting on a plain background. The two books are at close to a right angle with each other and most of their pages are touching.

By Roger Rosenblatt

The author, most recently, of “Cataract Blues: Running the Keyboard.”

One makes so few new friends in older age — I mean, real friends, the ones you bond with and hold dear, as if you’d known one another since childhood.

Old age often prevents, or at least tempers, such discoveries. The joy of suddenly finding someone of compatible tastes, politics, intellectual interests and sense of humor can be shadowed, if tacitly, by the inevitable prospect of loss.

I became friends with Helen Vendler — the legendary poetry critic who died last week — six years ago, after she came to a talk I gave at Harvard about my 1965-66 Fulbright year in Ireland. Our friendship was close at the outset and was fortified and deepened by many letters between us, by our writing.

Some critics gain notice by something new they discover in the literature they examine. Helen became the most important critic of the age by dealing with something old and basic — the fact that great poetry was, well, lovable. Her vast knowledge of it was not like anyone else’s, and she embraced the poets she admired with informed exuberance.

The evening we met, Helen and I huddled together for an hour, maybe two, speaking of the great Celtic scholar John Kelleher, under whom we had both studied; of Irish poetry; and of our families. Helen was born to cruelly restrictive Irish Catholic parents who would not think of her going to anything but a Catholic college. When Helen rebelled against them, she was effectively tossed out and never allowed to return home.

She told me all this at our very first meeting. And I told her the sorrows of my own life — the untimely death of my daughter, Amy, and the seven-plus years my wife, Ginny, and I spent helping to rear her three children. And I told Helen unhappy things about my own upbringing. The loneliness. I think we both sensed that we had found someone we could trust with our lives.

I never asked Helen why she had come to my talk in the first place, though I had recognized her immediately. After spending a life with English and American poetry — especially the poetry of Wallace Stevens — how could I not? The alert tilt of her head, the two parenthetical lines around the mouth that always seemed on the verge of saying something meaningful and the sad-kind-wise eyes of the most significant literary figure since Edmund Wilson.

And unlike Wilson, Helen was never compelled to show off. She knew as much about American writing as Wilson, and, I believe, loved it more.

It was that, even more than the breadth and depth of her learning, that set her apart. She was a poet who didn’t write poetry, but felt it like a poet, and thus knew the art form to the core of her being. Her method of “close reading,” studying a poem intently word by word, was her way of writing it in reverse.

Weeks before Helen’s death and what would have been her 91st birthday, we exchanged letters. I had sent her an essay I’d just written on the beauty of wonder, stemming from the wonder so many people felt upon viewing the total solar eclipse earlier this month. I often sent Helen things I wrote. Some she liked less than others, and she was never shy to say so. She liked the essay on wonder, though she said she was never a wonderer herself, but a “hopeless pragmatist,” not subject to miracles, except upon two occasions. One was the birth of her son, David, whom she mentioned in letters often. She loved David deeply, and both were happy when she moved from epic Cambridge to lyrical Laguna Niguel, Calif., to be near him, as she grew infirm.

Her second miracle, coincidentally, occurred when Seamus Heaney drove her to see a solar eclipse at Tintern Abbey. There, among the Welsh ruins, Helen had an astonishing experience, one that she described to me in a way that seemed almost to evoke Wordsworth:

I had of course read descriptions of the phenomena of a total eclipse, but no words could equal the total-body/total landscape effect; the ceasing of bird song; the inexorability of the dimming to a crescent and then to a corona; the total silence; the gradual salience of the stars; the iciness of the silhouette of the towers; the looming terror of the steely eclipse of all of nature. Now that quelled utterly any purely “scientific” interest. One became pure animal, only animal, no “thought-process” being even conceivable.

One who claims not to know wonders shows herself to be one.

She was so intent on the beauty of the poets she understood so deeply, she never could see why others found her appreciations remarkable. Once, when I sent her a note complimenting her on a wonderfully original observation she’d made in a recent article, she wrote: “So kind of you to encourage me. I always feel that everything I say would be obvious to anyone who can read, so am always amazed when someone praises something.”

Only an innocent of the highest order would say such a beautiful, preposterous thing. When recently the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded her the Gold Medal for Belle Lettres and Criticism, Helen was shocked.

“You could have floored me when I got the call,” she wrote to me, adding: “Perhaps I was chosen by the committee because of my advanced age; if so, I can’t complain. The quote that came to mind was Lowell’s ‘My head grizzled with the years’ gold garbage.’”

She was always doing that — attaching a quotation from poetry to a thought or experience of her own, as if she occupied the same room as all the great poets, living with them as closely as loved ones in a tenement.

Shelley called poets the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” I never fully got that famous line. But if the legislators’ laws apply to feeling and conduct, I think he was onto something. If one reads poetry — ancient and modern — as deeply as Helen did, and stays with it, and lets it roll around in one’s head, the effect is transporting. You find yourself in a better realm of feeling and language. And nothing of the noisier outer world — not Donald Trump, not Taylor Swift — can get to you.

In our last exchange of letters, Helen told me about the death she was arranging for herself. I was brokenhearted to realize that I was losing someone who had given me and countless others so much thought and joy. Her last words to me were telling, though, and settled the matter as only practical, spiritual Helen could:

I feel not a whit sad at the fact of death, but massively sad at leaving friends behind, among whom you count dearly. I have always known what my true feelings are by whatever line of poetry rises unbidden to my mind on any occasion; to my genuine happiness, this time was a line from Herbert’s “Evensong,” in which God (always in Herbert, more like Jesus than Jehovah), says to the poet, “Henceforth repose; your work is done.”

She closed her letter as I closed my response. “Love and farewell.”

Roger Rosenblatt is the author, most recently, of “Cataract Blues: Running the Keyboard.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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    The Language of the Night: Essays on writing, science fiction, and fantasy by Ursula K. Le Guin. There are few sci-fi and fantasy writers more brilliant (and revered) than Ursula K. Le Guin.

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