Do you need an essay plan?
I was recently asked on Quora, the question and answer site, the following questions:
Today’s guest author, Lisa Griffin, answers those questions and offers more strategies for improving your essay writing skills.
Although Lisa directs her advice to students, many of her tips can be applied to blog post writing.
5 Ways to Improve Your Essay Writing Skills
You thought you got it all right.
You followed instructions. You did your best to write something that would impress the professor. But you can’t read minds, can you? You didn’t get precise guidelines on how to write an essay. How could you possibly know what the professor expected?
The biggest problem with academic writing is that it’s so… academic. When you read advanced academic content, you feel like you’re not up to that level. You’re not confident that you can become better, so you set yourself up to fail.
Don’t do that.
The least you could do is make an attempt.
There is a way to become a better writer, and it involves a lot of practice. Stay tuned: We’re about to give you a few simple tips on how to become better at writing essays.
- Find Your Angle
Professors rarely assign specific topics for essays. They prefer assigning a theme, which the student should narrow down.
Why do they do this?
They want to see your take on the theme. They want you to specify it according to your interest. This is a good thing since it enables you to find your unique angle on the issue.
Let’s say the theme is “parenting in the 21st century.” You can’t take it as a direct topic. It’s too broad and it involves too many aspects. So, you’ll start your preliminary research. You’ll identify the different aspects of parenting in the 21st century. The theme may look boring at first, but it will get more interesting as you dig in. Here are few examples for a specified topic:
- How Tablets and Smartphones Influence Parenting Styles in the 21st Century
- The Method of Physical Punishment – Should It Be Present in 21st-Century Parenting?
- How Reality Shows Influence Parenting in the 21st century
- How Gender Equality Influences Parenting Styles
You can choose a controversial, traditional, or funny writing topic. Choose whatever you like. It’s important to find an angle that triggers your interest, so you’ll approach the project with enthusiasm.
2. Craft the Perfect Thesis Statement
Do you have your topic?
Now, it’s time to develop the thesis statement. When you’re wondering how to improve essay writing, this is the starting point. It’s the sentence that states the topic and conveys your main point.
“The method of physical punishment has no place in modern parenting, since it dramatically impacts children’s fragile personalities.”
How can you create a good thesis statement?
- Once you choose a topic, write down your initial ideas about it. This process of brainstorming will help you see where you stand.
- Go through the notes. One point will stand out – that’s the foundation of your thesis statement.
- The statement will have two elements: First, you’ll state the topic, and then you’ll reveal your point.
3. Plan the Outline in Detail
If you had a day to observe the work of a professional writer, do you know what you’d encounter? – Tons of planning, some more planning, and then some writing.
Real writers have entire notebooks with drafts behind that one novel or essay that the reader sees. That’s the secret of their success. Through drafting, they are able to filter out the good ideas. But they also give themselves a clear direction.
You need such a direction, too.
The outline of an essay contains five elements:
- Three body paragraphs
[Host Blogger’s Comment: You can use this as an essay writing template:]
|Body Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence|
Body Paragraph 1 Details
Body Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence
Body Paragraph 2 Details
|Body Paragraph 3 Topic Sentence|
Body Paragraph 3 Details
You need to know what you’ll write in each of these parts. Few bullet points per paragraph are enough. Note down what you plan to write there and how you’ll support those points. What resources will you use in each section?
The outline is your first step towards improving essay writing skills. It will keep you grounded. It will prevent digressions so the entire writing process will be easier.
4. Know Your Words
Let’s talk about style. There is one main rule you should follow: Know the words you use.
Forget about super-intellectual words. You want to sound intelligent, and that’s okay. But in that attempt, you risk achieving the opposite effect. Do you know what quasi-intellectual means? It’s the effect you’ll achieve when you try to appear smart, but the reader sees through your mask.
The big words won’t disguise the lack of strong arguments. Unnatural language will only make you sound confused.
Use simple words and develop a straightforward style. Clarity is a strength, which convinces the reader that your main point makes sense.
5. Plan, Write, Improve
That’s another rule for proper essay writing. The previous one was all about the style, and this one is about the process.
When you plan the outline, you give yourself a direction to follow. But what happens after you write the essay? Are you done? NO.
To make a great impression with your content, you’ll have to pay close attention to the details.
- First, make sure the thesis statement is strong and convincing.
- Check the introduction. Is it powerful enough? Maybe you can add something to clarify the issue?
- Does the paragraph order maintain a logical flow?
- Does the conclusion sum up the main points?
- Did you miss adding important information?
- Is there redundancy in the paper?
Editing is not easy, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. Sure, professional writers usually hire editors who are experts in their niches. But you know what? This is just an essay, so you don’t have to go that far.
You can use an automated essay checker tool. It will list the grammar and style flaws that you could improve. Pay attention to the hints and do your best to improve the quality of your writing.
[Also, see information about the Grammarly Referral Program]
As a final touch, you must check the uniqueness of your paper. Use an online plagiarism detection tool, which will warn you about any content that you accidentally took from an online resource. If the tool detects plagiarism, make sure to change that part of your essay or add an appropriate reference.
You Can Write! Follow this Essay Plan! You Just Need to Try!
The five tips above are pretty simple, aren’t they? They cover all stages of the essay writing process. You start with choosing the perfect topic, you continue with planning and writing, and you wrap it up with editing.
With the tips and tricks we suggested for each of these steps, you’ll be ready to start writing an awesome essay. Just give yourself enough time and you’ll do just fine!
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