What Are the Steps to Writing a Concept Essay?
The purpose of a concept essay is to inform your reader on a specific topic: “Successful explanatory writing presents information confidently and efficiently, usually with the purpose of educating the reader about a subject," Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper explain in "The St. Martin's Guide to Writing." A concept essay serves to explain, not influence. You don’t take certain stance or point of view regarding your subject. Even if you tackle a controversial theme, explain the facets of a controversy rather than taking a side.
Find a Subject
Often, you will be assigned a topic on which to write. However, you may get the opportunity to choose from a wide range of subjects or to come up with your own topic. Look for something that interests you. If you are interested in the theme, you will be more likely to write in a way that makes others interested as well. Concept essays themes tend to be more abstract than the topics for other essays. For example, you may be asked to write about the racism, communication or wisdom.
Think about what you already know about your subject and then find out what you don’t know. You are educating someone about a topic, so make sure you know as much as possible about it. Once you have done your research, you will decide how much of it to use. You don’t want to put every piece of information in the essay, but you need enough detail so that someone unfamiliar with the concept will be able to understand it once he has read your paper.
Determine the audience for your paper. According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center, knowing your audience “can help you make good decisions about what material to include, in what order to organize your ideas, and how best to support your argument.”
Organize your ideas by putting them in an outline. The Purdue Online Writing Lab discusses the importance of creating an outline and gives ideas on how to get started (see Resources section). By organizing your ideas, you will start to get the overall form of your paper. You can see which ideas are alike and should be grouped together. Also, you will see which ones do not fit and should be eliminated.
The introductory paragraph announces your subject and gives an indication of the important points within the essay. Also, your introduction should contain your thesis statement. A thesis is a sentence or two that states the central idea of your paper. The thesis allows readers to clearly understand the purpose of your essay.
Compose body paragraphs that support your thesis. Each paragraph conveys one main point. That main point is stated in the topic sentence of the paragraph. The rest of the paragraph should support that topic sentence, and all paragraphs should support your overall thesis.
Remind the reader of the main idea of your essay. A conclusion summarizes the main points of your paper. Be careful to word this in a new way so your essay does not seem repetitive.
Editing and Revising
When your first draft is completed, edit your work. Check to see that the essay stays on topic from start to finish. Make sure the information is presented in a logical way. Verify that each paragraph stays focused on a central idea. Look for spelling and grammatical errors.
- "The St. Martin's Guide to Writing, 7th ed.;" Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper; 2004
- UNC Writing Lab
Shelia Odak has over 10 years writing and editing experience for consumer and trade publications including "Radio/TV Interview Report." She has worked for over nine years in education and holds a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Odak writes on a range of topics including education, literature and frugal living.