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Shabrina Kumar
English 20
Anya Connelly
23 February 2016
How to Write an Essay 101
Hi my name is Shabrina Kumar and in my essay I am going to tell you about my writing
For many, writing comes naturally and quickly, however for some it requires a lot of
time, brainstorming, and revisions. In most student scenarios writing occurs several hours before
a writing assignment is due. Whereas for me, writing occurs the day the assignment is assigned.
In school we have always been taught a certain way of writing, we all begin with brainstorming
and after several steps we produce a final draft. Throughout my educational career with several
different English teachers, I have created my own personal way of writing an academic essay.
Yearly with new teachers I improve my writing skills and strategies by applying new tips and
information such as suggestions written by Dan Melzer, Garry D. Schmidt, William J. Vande
Kopple, and Richard Straub.
My writing process begins the moment my fingertips meet the prompt. I begin with
reading with the grain. Reading with the grain refers to reading information for the first time
fully through without hesitations, questions, comments or concerns. Then with my writing
utensils I begin to read the information for a second time, but now against the grain. While
reading against the grain, I now question the information given and mark up my paper. I
highlight key information, circle information that seems unclear, and define unknown words.
When first reviewing the prompt I also ask several questions, as described by Dan Melzer in his

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article, Understanding Writing Assignments: Tips and Techniques, Dont be afraid to ask your
teacher for more information about what they expect from an assignment and how they will
evaluate your writing (Melzer,157). To begin you must have complete knowledge of what the
prompt is asking from you and how your teacher would like the information displayed. In most
scenarios your teacher is your audience, so in order to best please your audience, one must know
a sufficient amount of information about their audience.
As typically seen as the fist step in most writing processes, my second step begins with
brainstorming. With knowledge of the prompt, I begin brainstorming what key things should be
said in my essay. If the essay requires research, I research all the information needed and keep a
detailed list of where my information was received. If my essay does not require substantial
research I begin with composing a strong thesis statement, as defined by Vande and Schmidt in
their article Rhetoric, The thesis is more than a statement of intention (Vande,Schmidt). A
thesis statement paves the way of exactly what you want to say in the rest of your essay. A thesis
statement is generally one sentence in which the author generates the subject of the paper into a
guiding question and then answers it, turning it into a working thesis statement. With my thesis
statement at hand, I begin to outline what each paragraph will say.
With a strong thesis statement I can outline the rest of my essay by trying to prove my
thesis. I begin with a paper and pencil. I physically write down an outline, by writing out my
entire first paragraph, and then making bullet points for my body questions. As Garry D.
Schmidt, and William J. Vande Kopple explain the main concepts of rhetoric are: context,
audience, purpose, thesis, and evidence. When conducting a paper, these main concepts are
crucial to having a strong paper; personally I begin my outline by imbedding these concepts into
it. When outlining I try to determine how I will fulfill these rhetoric situations and address them

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in my paper. For instance, I outline my purpose with a strong thesis statement in my introduction
paragraph, and outline my evidence with bullet points and quotes from credible sources.
Once I have completed a rough outline of my paper, I begin to write. I write my paper in
whole, from beginning to end. I try not to stop and not pay attention to any mistakes. I do not pay
attention to spelling and grammar mistakes as they are typically seen as LOCs or lower order
concerns. During my shitty first draft I only pay attention to HOCs or higher ordered
concerns. I worry more about my format, clarity, and to what degree I have answered the prompt.
Once I have typed all the information I would like to say, I wait a couple days and then I
begin to dissect the essay. I wait several days to dissect the essay so I can look at the paper with
fresh eyes and have a reader perspective rather than as writer, similar to how Richard Straub
explains in this paper, Responding Really Responding-to Other Students Writing. He states,
Youre not the writer; youre the reader, analyzing my paper though a different perspective can
help me better my paper as the writer (Straub, 16). I pick apart the essay and look for all
mistakes I can find. I correct my format, I check for spelling and then I check for grammar.
However looking at the bigger picture I am making sure my prompt has been answered and I
follow the guidelines my teacher has provided. Typically I have another individual read over my
paper, I print out a copy for my mother or email a friend a copy.
Once I have received feedback, I incorporate comments and then leave my essay for
another day to sit. With fresh eyes I again look through my essay and revise, revise, and revise
some more. In the years prior to college I have simply turned in my paper after I had completed
it. It has not been till the past year that I have learned teachers can personally read over papers
and give feedback. In order to improve my academic papers, I must add teacher interaction into
my writing process. Communicating with the teacher will not only help me improve my

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academic skills but also enhance my communication skills with individuals in a professional
In regards to previous papers I have written, my high school teachers did not offer the
same amount of support as college professors. For instance, in my Advanced Placement English
Language course (AP Lang) in which we were given weekly essays, my teacher would give the
students the prompt and occasionally give us an example. However it was the students job to
analyze the prompt and conduct an essay within one week without any assistance. We were given
a generic rubric and were forced to write.
The course was frustrating, there were not office hours I could visit, the first time the
teacher read the paper, was when it was due. Grades were given based on a scale of zero to nine.
When our essays were returned, there was simply a number on the top of the paper with slight
feedback. There was no way to understand why one was awarded a high or low score. In an
essay of my own, I received a score of a five and the feedback I was given was continued. In
what sense was a student supposed to understand the teacher and know what she was trying to
say. One word could not simply explain what my paper lacked or what I had done well. Clearly
the teacher had not read Dan Melzers article, Understanding Writing Assignments: Tips and
Technique, and understood the importance of teacher- student interaction is during the writing
In my opinion, my thesis statement, While the selfless gesture of offering charity comes
from the heart, incentives are external motivators, and undermine the value of giving to charity
clearly states my opinion and paves the way for the rest of my essay (Kumar, 1). I used
supporting ideas such as defining charity, newspaper articles, and personal experience to answer
the prompt. However I received a low score and was left with the word continued.

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As far as college goes, students can take their paper into the professors office or email
them a copy for feedback. The professor can leave comments and suggestions in order to help the
student write the best paper to their ability. As far as my writing process, teacher interaction has
now been added to each step of my writing process by asking questions about the prompt, to
having the professor read a copy of your draft during my revision stages.

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Works Cited
Kumar, Shabrina. "Selfless." N.p., Feb. 2013. Web.
Melter, Dan. ""Understanding Writing Assignments: Tips and Techniques." The Subject Is
Writing: Essays by Teachers and Students. 3rd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2003.
162-72. Print.
Schmidt, Gary D., and Vande Kopple William J. "Rhetoric." Communities of Discourse: The
Rhetoric of Disciplines. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993. N. pag. Print.
Straub, Richard. "Responding - Really Responding - to Other Students' Writing." The Subject Is
Writing: Essays by Teachers and Students. 3rd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 2003.
N. pag. Print.