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Essay Structure

Introduction: The most important part. If this is well constructed, all else will flow from this. Put the most of your energy here. (Introduction = I + P1 + P2 + P3 +C) Paragraph 1: Gives the first point of support to your thesis, otherwise known as the argument you are making, or simply put, the answer to your question. The first sentence of each supporting paragraph is like a mini-introduction/overview to the rest of the paragraph, allowing your structure to be clear. In the rest of the paragraph discuss in greater detail, and provide a relevant example where possible. Paragraph 2: Gives the second point of support to your thesis. Like P1, but a second supporting idea. Paragraph 3: This paragraph depends on the nature of the question. Generally it is best to outline other possibilities or an alternate/disputing view, and then explain why these are incorrect, or, as is generally the case, if they are partially correct, why your argument is more correct. Some questions, such as questions of personal preference, may not have an alternate view because it is your view. In this case, provide a third point to support your thesis. Conclusion: Succinctly answers the question, summarizing the above as support to your answer. Repeat your thesis, your points. Do not add new information in the conclusion. This element is a mirror of the introduction. Some prefer to craft the conclusion after the introduction and prior to writing the main body (i.e. paragraphs 13). (Intro is the in S1, the question and general answer, S2 support to the answer given to be supported in P2, S3 support to the answer given to be supported in P3, S4 alternative or dissenting views to be and why these are not accepted and in favor of the thesis, to be expanded on in P4, S5 a general synthesis of the thesis to be elaborated on in conclusion, or P5.) S = Sentence P = Paragraph To begin, write yourself a little outline as a roadmap, as simple as: Structure? Logic and Framework Organization and Clarity Readability and connecting with reader Structure doesnt preclude creativity Structure leads to a better essay. THE ABOVE CONSTITUTES THE ENTIRE ESSAY BELOW. JOTTING DOWN A SIMPLE OUTLINE LIKE THIS TAKES A MOMENT AND GIVES YOU THE ROADMAP FOR THE WHOLE ESSAY. READ THE ESSAY BELOW, THEN THE OUTLINE ABOVE AND YOU WILL SEE HOW SIMPLE IT IS!

Essay Question: How is an essay best structured?


The best way to structure an essay question is to have a coherent framework and logic to the essay. This will allow you to have a foundation from which to build up your ideas in a systematic fashion so that your writing will be organized and clear. The result will be an essay that is reasoned, making your reader better able to follow your argument and ultimately making your point more easily understood. Most questions have more than one answer, and you should make it clear why you have chosen one response over another. Finally, your essay should conclude: do not ramble and add other points, for every essay can always have additional information, but the choices you make frame the essay to the information that you deem to be essential to the thesis. Having a systematic manner of organizing your essay will give you a framework in which you can organize your ideas. With this habit, you can then focus on your ideas and style, rather than expending energy on your structure. Knowing this in advance, even under time pressure you will be able to write down in point form the direction you are headed. It is very much like having a detailed roadmap as opposed to simply having a cardinal direction. The more organized your ideas, the more clear your writing process is likely to be. The clarity of your writing process will translate into how easily your reader will understand your argument, thus enhancing your ability to convince. While you may feel passionately about a topic and believe that you have a style that is unique, if you are lacking in organization your writing will appear muddled and your reader will likely become lost. Regardless of subject matter, building up an argument in a structured way allows the reader to follow your rationale. Most of us have had the experience of being a captive audience of a rambling speaker, where the audience simply tunes out. In the case of a rambling writer, the audience may simply stop reading. By having a clear path, you are more likely to also keep your reader on it. The above sounds very methodical, and indeed the writer who is beginning to explore such a structure may find it so. Critics may argue that such a method does not allow for creativity or style. Granted, there are other ways to write and more free-form styles of expression. However, these tend to not be essays, and when they are they are crafted by the experienced and talented writer. So long as writing does not become mechanical in deference to the structure, there remains great scope for creativity and personal style through word choice, sentence formulation, and the innovation in the ideas you present so long as they are well supported. In conclusion, an essay is best structured by having a clear introduction with a conclusion that reflects your introduction, and a body that gives support to the argument that you are making. These elements must follow an explicit rationale, so as to be sure that you have a foundation upon which to build your argument through your writing without getting lost in your ideas. Your reader will be better able to follow your writing when you have a logical structure, and will thus find your essay more convincing and enjoyable. There remains great freedom for exploring your ideas and style in this structure, allowing for your voice to come through. By getting into the habit of structuring your essays in a logical manner, ultimately the quality of your output will improve.

PRACTICE: 1. Start only with INTRODUCTIONS. Do a few of them. This is the hardest part. Once you have a good introduction, you have pretty much written the essay: you just have to fill in the blanks! 2. Do a few CONCLUSIONS to mirror the introductions you have created. It will likely seem repetitive at first. If it does, you are probably on the right track. Do not add new ideas in the conclusion. Ever. You could always have written more, but you must know how to create the limits of what you are talking about in your essay. You have chosen those points for a reason. Dont confuse your reader by adding in random sort-of-related-but-not-really details, regardless of how interesting they might be. Yaks milk may be pink, but you are not participating in a trivia quiz, you are writing an essay about a specific topic. Stick to it. 3. Body. Easy. You already have your lead in sentences from the introduction, so you have done most of the work. Now just expand on it. STAY ON TOPIC! 4. Timing: Now that you have practiced the above, do an essay or two in entirety WITHOUT a time limit, but do time yourself for each component, just for information. How long did it take to write each part without time limits? What is the ratio? Does it take three times longer to write the introduction than other parts? Does one element flow naturally more quickly for you? This information will be informative for you for when you DO have a time restriction, and help you to relax a bit when you feel under the gun, because you will have an idea of the temporal flow of the process. 5. Now do it timed!

PITFALLS: 1. Did you answer the question? This may sound ridiculous, but it happens. It happens VERY VERY often that, writers answer the question they THINK they were asked rather that the question that they WERE asked. Dont do this. And, dont realize this at the end of writing your brilliant essay about something totally different than you were asked to write. Before you write even one word, read the question at least three times. Ask yourself: What are they asking me? Do not assume you know. Confidence is good, but overconfidence leads to mistakes that you will kick yourself for later. 2. Rushing to get done. Nobody cares if you finished your essay and it is completely irrational and badly crafted. Just breathe. The worst thing that will happen is that you will not finish a brilliantly written, well-thought out essay, which is much better than a finished crap essay. 3. Dont ramble. Writing more is not writing better. Be succinct. Think about what you want to say, find the best way to say it, say it, and then stop. A paragraph need not be more than 4 sentences, and should probably not be more than 6. With 5 paragraphs, that is between 20 and 30 sentences, or 25 sentences on average. Your introduction will likely (and probably should) take much longer to craft than the rest, so dont rush it, because you know that once this is done properly most of the essay is already mostly written. 4. Breathe. Dont worry so much. Youre doing fine, and you are getting better all the time. If you start to feel stressed, or frozen, breathe, read the question, and just write something anything to get you started. In the end, it is only a test.