Writing your essay
Finally, the time has come to actually commence the writing of your essay. If the routines explained above have been adhered to in a thoughtful and meticulous manner, then the writing process should be plain sailing. All the examples and evidence that you have found in your research can now be put to use following your plan and be presented in as much detail as possible.
Of course, your spelling, grammar and punctuation should be accurate and flawless. Examiners do not have a high opinion of poor spelling, inappropriate punctuation and in particular your referencing and bibliography must be without errors as well. Citing a book title or author’s name with incorrect spelling can be confusing and misleading for the reader. Good, accurate presentation goes a long way with examiners when awarding a grade. However, take care with computer spell checks as they don’t always interpret the text correctly and might inadvertently suggest an inappropriate spelling of a word. There is nothing better than doing your own proof reading and getting a fellow student to check the essay as well. If there are any uncertainties about resources used, these should be thoroughly checked for accuracy.
The order of writing the essay is a matter of choice and sometimes it feels better to write the main body of the essay first then add an introduction and complete the conclusion or the introduction can be the priority. This all depends how well you can develop the essay theme with coherence.
If you feel you have the ability to outline the argument in a straightforward manner in your introduction and then develop it with confidence then the introduction should be written first; if you are uncertain as to how the essay is going to develop the introduction should be left to the end so the theme of your essay can then be written into the introduction.
The most important point to remember when writing the introduction that this is the first part of the essay the examiner will read so it must be well written to have a good impact. The introduction basically summarises your response to the question that is being asked so it has to be clearly and methodically presented so that your thoughts on the topic are made clear to the reader. It mustn’t be simply waffle about the essay content but a well thought paragraph that presents the information to be discussed clearly and concisely. It is really quite a straightforward part of the essay. It is not normally appropriate to put quotations in an introduction as this is where you, as the writer, is going to outline how you are going to address the topic and not that of other writers. Your introduction should be short and concise with a proper link into the second paragraph which is the start of the main body of the essay.
In the main part of your essay, every paragraph should be set aside for one feature or point related to the primary theme of the essay. This is where your plan comes in handy as you can follow the plan of the paragraph content that you have already laid out. Put more simply every paragraph acts basically as a minor heading to the title and each of your points will be backed up with the evidence and examples that you have already researched and noted. Many students do not always know how long paragraphs should be so as a general rule the use of four or even five well composed sentences will be sufficient.
It is extremely important in an academic essay to back up all statements made with suitable evidence and examples. Essays that are of a literary nature should also contain some analysis which will show you truly understand the text. This will also involve using specific words or phrases from the literary text that will support your understanding of the text in question and are of particular relevance to the topic under discussion. This type of analysis will undoubtedly score additional marks and will also aid in further developing the argument or stance that you are outlining.
When it comes to the use of quotations they should be short and sweet and should certainly not exceed a small number of lines and accurate referencing using the correct style are important as well. The normal layout for long quotations is to indent them and use a separate line for each. Any quotations that are just a short group of words should be incorporated into the sentence with appropriate punctuation so that they stand out.
As each paragraph is completed the ending words should be linked to the commencement of the next paragraph which should then lead in referring to that link. Otherwise the essay may be seen as a disjointed set of ideas. An easy to follow flow should be established with each paragraph being embedded in the pattern. At the same time the argument should be following a clearly defined course of development.
- Chronological writing, where one point flows easily from another
- Elaboration, when a point mentioned earlier is developed further
- Comparing and contrasting, where a point is seemingly at odds with another point in an earlier paragraph
These are just some thoughts on essay writing that may be adapted depending on the type and theme of the essay that is in the making.
The conclusion should basically be a summary of the complete argument. Marks are often lost for offering a sudden conclusion which fails to consider the argument as a whole, its development into the future and the leaving out of important information that is crucial to this summation. It is fine to use quotations in conclusions but it is not the place to begin outlining new concepts at this point in time. When this part of the essay has been reached by the reader, the primary argument should have been understood so there is no need to elaborate with new ideas The conclusion is the part of the essay that reflects on the content and theme that has already been covered in the main body and assures the reader that all main points have been clarified and supported.