What is an Essay?
A good essay is a comprehensive composition on a particular topic; beneficial, convincing and easily comprehendible for a reader. Essay writing is a skill of formulating your ideas about a topic in an adequate manner with the aid of rational arguments which convince the reader about what is discoursed in the essay.
The essay is a particularly academic form of writing and is a standard method of developing and demonstrating a student’s intellectual abilities at almost all levels of a humanities degree programme. Developing skills in essay-writing is, therefore, crucial to success in your studies.
QUESTION FORMAT (CSS Exam): Make an outline and write a COMPREHENSIVE ESSAY (2500 – 3500 words) on any one on the given topics. Make sure you use different forms of discourse e.g. description, narration, illustration etc.
How to write an Essay
In essay writing, the most important starting point is to listen carefully to what the essay title is telling you.
Choice of topic
Choice of topic should be clearly based on your holistic understanding of the subject matter. So choose a topic with which you are most comfortable. At times we think that the topic is so common that most of the people will choose it, so let me choose some unconventional topic. This is a totally wrong thinking, many people end up scoring poor marks due to this. So fight with your best weapons on.
Interpretation of the essay topic
Do not be in a hurry to write an essay. Many people see the broader title and start writing the essay without even understanding the theme of the topic.
Eg- With greater power comes greater responsibility Now the moment people see power they somehow relate it to politics and bureaucracy and start building their essay around it, writing all theories, quotes and examples they know related to it. Here the theme of this topic is philosophical which talks of power present in any institutional system (family, religion, community, politics, administration etc), throughout society power is banked from people to a leader so that he can use that power for a common good. So with greater power comes greater responsibility. In this context we need to critically analyze the theme of the essay.
Essay writing can be divided into following four parts on the basis of marking in CSS Exam.
- Discourse/ideas and thoughts presented in an essay
- Structure of essay
- Making Outline
- Principles and Qualities of a good essay
Some key points to remember during Essay writing are
- In essay begin with a general point about the central issue
- thesis statement (what you are trying to prove) should be included in essay writing
- Essay should have mapping statement or statements (what and how you will argue)
- Topic sentences (sentences that introduce your topics) should be included in the essay.
- In essay show your understanding of the topic that has been set (given).
- Show how you plan to address the title in your Essay structure
- Our advice would be to use simple language. As Anton Chekov once said ‘Brevity is the sister of talent’.
- The idea of using ornamental language to showcase your English vocabulary may backfire at times.
- There should be a logical continuation from beginning to end.
- The essay should be organized in well-structured paragraphs coherent with the flow of the essay.
- Don’t be too aggressive or pessimistic in your tone.
- Come up with good points and express new viewpoints.
- Go through well written essays by experts in newspapers and magazines, and understand how they frame the ‘Introduction’ and ‘Conclusion’ paragraphs.
- The conclusion should be there in essay writing.
A powerful introduction is invaluable (extremely useful) in an essay. It can engage your readers, and can give them confidence that you have thought carefully about the title, and about how you are going to address it. It may be possible to use only one paragraph for your introduction, but it may fall more easily into two or more. You will need to adapt and extend this basic structure to fit with your own discipline and the precise task set. Following the thesis, you should provide a mini-outline which previews the examples you will use to support your thesis in the rest of the essay. Not only does this tell the reader what to expect in the paragraphs to come but it also gives them a clearer understanding of what the essay is about.
Essentially, this is what you are doing within the essay process, breaking ideas down, and then building them up again. Writing essays, you just need to break down the essay title into its component parts, and consider possible ways of addressing them work with these component parts, as you select your reading and make relevant notes, build up the essay using the material you have collected ordering it, presenting and discussing it, and forming it into a coherent argument.
Supporting Paragraphs (Body of Essay)
In writing essay supporting paragraphs make up the main body of your essay. List the points that develop the main idea of your essay. Place each supporting point in its own paragraph Develop each supporting point with facts, details, and examples. To connect your supporting paragraphs, you should use special transition words. Transition words link your paragraphs together and make your essay easier to read. Use them at the beginning and end of your paragraphs. Transitions are words and phrases that provide a connection between ideas, sentences and paragraphs”. Transitions help to make a piece of writing flow better.
What should a paragraph do?
At the risk of being silly, consider this. What you look for in a partner, a reader looks for in a paragraph. You want a partner who is supportive, strong, and considerate to others. Similarly, a good paragraph will:
Even in the most trying of times a good paragraph will find away to support the essay. It will declare its relationship to the essay clearly, so that the whole world knows what the paragraph intends to do. In other words, a supportive paragraph’s main idea clearly develops the argument of the essay.
A good paragraph isn’t bloated with irrelevant evidence or redundant sentences. Nor is it a scrawny thing, begging to be fed. It’s strong and buffed. You know that it’s been worked on. In other words, a strong paragraph develops its main idea, using sufficient evidence.
Good paragraphs consider their relationship to other paragraphs. A good paragraph never interrupts its fellow paragraphs to babble on about its own, irrelevant problems. A good paragraph waits its turn. It shows up when and where it’s supposed to. It doesn’t make a mess for other paragraphs to clean up. In other words, a considerate paragraph is a coherent paragraph. It makes sense within the text as a whole.
When you’ve written a paragraph, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have enough evidence to support this paragraph’s idea?
- Do I have too much evidence? (In other words, will the reader be lost in a morass of details, unable to see the argument as a whole?)
- Does this evidence clearly support the assertion I am making in this paragraph, or am I stretching it?
- If I am stretching it, what can I do to persuade the reader that this stretch is worth making?
- Am I repeating myself in this paragraph?
- Have I defined all of the paragraph’s important terms?
- Can I say, in a nutshell, what the purpose of this paragraph is?
- Has the paragraph fulfilled that purpose?
The body of the essay will take each of these main points and develop them with examples and illustrations, using clearly defined paragraphs. This is where you will need to think about the structure of your essay and make sure you follow a clear path through to your conclusion. This section is where most writers go wrong, but if you plan carefully you should have a direction for your essay before you start writing.
Avoid unnecessary description
In an essay only include general background details and history when they add to your argument, e.g. to show a crucial cause and effect. Practice distinguishing between description (telling what happened) and analysis (judging why something happened).
Interpret your evidence
While writing essay explain how and why your evidence supports your point. Interpretation is an important part of critical analysis, and you should not just rely on the evidence “speaking for itself”.
In essay avoid making sweeping generalizations or points that are difficult to support with specific evidence. It is better to be more measured and tie your argument to precise examples or case studies.
Use counter-arguments to your advantage
In writing an essay if you find viewpoints that go against your own argument, don’t ignore them. It strengthens an argument to include an opposing viewpoint and explain why it is not as convincing as your own line of reasoning.
A powerful conclusion is a valuable tool. So in essay writing the aim is to leave your reader feeling that you have done a good job. Having done all of that, the final element – and final sentence in your essay – should be a “global statement” or “call to action” that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end. A generic structure that you may find useful is
- Brief recap of what you have covered in relation to the essay title
- Reference to the larger issue and Evaluation of the main arguments
- Highlighting the most important aspects in the essay.