Nearly every student has to write an essay at some point, but not everyone really knows what it is supposed to do. An essay is usually a compact piece of writing with a particular goal, be it explanation, persuasion, argument or instruction. Essays consist of an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Generally an essay has a clear point or topic which it systematically explains, clarifies and expounds upon. Writing an effective essay consists of following the writing process of pre-writing, drafting and revision.
Develop your ideas before you begin writing. Look over related materials, articles, books or videos to give you ideas. Jot down notes as you read and brainstorm new ideas to help you get in the mode of writing. Free write about topics as you come up with ideas, simply writing down random thoughts as you think them, not worrying about coherence or clarity.
Plan your essay once you have developed a topic or specific idea to write about. Sketch out major ideas or points. The magic number for main ideas or points is three. Having three to five main ideas gives your essay symmetry and a fleshed-out feel that shows true preparation. Write a rough outline, including notes about what to include in your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.
Develop a thesis or main idea statement that sums up the overall idea, argument or point of your essay. This helps focus your essay and gives your reader a clear idea of what to expect.
Write an intriguing and attention-grabbing introductory paragraph that will entice readers to keep reading while giving a brief summary of what the rest of the essay is about. Include your thesis or main idea statement near the end of the introduction.
Construct well-developed, coherent and unified body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should have a good topic sentence that sums up the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence is generally the first sentence of a paragraph. Body paragraphs should be focus on one major idea or point and take it to completion.
Write a brief conclusion that sums up your essay, revisiting main ideas briefly and signing off with a final thought, statement or call to action. The conclusion is a condensed version of your introduction in which you step back from your topic.
Put the first draft away for a day or more, if possible, so it isn't as fresh in your mind. Allowing time lets you revise more honestly and openly.
Read over your essay for major ideas and content. Make sure the essay clearly illustrates your points or overall argument, explaining things coherently and logically.
Evaluate the essay for style and organization. Watch out for repetitive sentence structure, overuse of large words, confusing layout or strangely-ordered paragraphs.
Revise small grammar and punctuation mistakes for clarity and ease of reading. Beginning writers often stress over the small errors, but the focus should be content, organization and style.
Rewrite the essay or specific paragraphs that do not accomplish their goals. If your point is confused, muddled or misrepresented, simply rewrite that section. Rewriting does not mean adding or replacing commas; it means writing again and more effectively.