How to write an essay - all the rules

What is an essay?

Many people assume that an essay is just an ordinary essay. However, it is not.

An essay is a prose literary genre. Translated from the French, it means 'essay' or 'sketch'. The essay reflects individual experiences of the writer, his view of a particular issue. It does not give an exhaustive answer to a certain question, but reflects his own opinion or impression.

Writing an essay perfectly develops logic, the ability to argue one's opinion, and to present information competently. The writing style is more conversational.

Characteristics of an essay

In order to write an essay correctly, you should take into account the specific features that distinguish it from other genres.

The main features of an essay are:

  • Presence of a certain narrow topic that contains a problem and encourages the reader to think.
  • Subjective authorial position. It is the presence of an author's viewpoint on an existing problem, his attitude to the world, speech and thinking that distinguishes an essay.
  • A conversational style of writing. Complex formulations, too long sentences should be avoided. It is important to have a relaxed style to connect with the reader. At the same time, it is important not to overdo it, turning the essay into a poor quality text full of slang. Short, simple and clear sentences, the use of different intonation in sentences will give the right emotional colouring to the text.
  • A detailed analysis of the problem. Your own point of view should be argued, relying on factual material.
  • A relatively short statement. There is no page limit, but the essay is short.
  • Free structure. The essay is of a narrative nature that does not fit into any particular framework. The construction is subject to its own logic, which is followed by the author in an attempt to consider the problem from different angles.
  • Logic of exposition. Despite the free composition, an essay should possess internal unity, coherence of the author's statements expressing his/her opinion.

Thus, an essay is distinguished by a special style of narration, its goal is to induce the reader to think. The author does not insist on his point of view, but invites the reader to think and discuss it.

Proper essay writing is about understanding the peculiarities of the genre. Observing the basic principles and writing guidelines will produce an interesting essay.

How to choose a topic

If there is no list of topics among which you can choose one, and only a general direction is given, you need to take into account what kind of audience the essay is designed for. The options may be different: a university teacher, a committee, a literary community, an employer. If the essay is written for a teacher, it is necessary to consider what qualities will be evaluated. On this basis, the topic should be chosen so that there is an opportunity to demonstrate the abilities that the examiner expects from the author: originality, ability to construct sentences logically, literacy, professional qualities, etc.

When choosing a topic for writing an essay from the suggested list, you should choose the one in which there is certain knowledge, considerations or just a strong interest.

If the essay is aimed at an employer, it is advisable that both the topic and the content of the essay reflect the author's character, sincerity, uniqueness, humanity and individuality.

How to start an essay

It often happens that a person with sufficient eloquence and the ability to express his or her thoughts on paper has difficulty in starting an essay, including an essay. Thinking about the beginning can take quite a long time, which greatly overshadows the process of creative work. Use the tips on how to start an essay.

Tip 1. Before you start writing an essay, you need to formulate an idea, define a goal, and find sources of information for the work.

Tip 2: Use free-writing techniques. Its essence is to write down all the thoughts that come into your head without editing it and without watching out for grammar, punctuation, style, etc. It's a great way to help you cope with a creative crisis and find an extraordinary idea.

Tip 3. It is important not to get hung up on the introduction. You can write the introduction even after the main part has been written. In this case, it is already clear what the essay is about, so it is easier to write the introduction.

Tip 4. One quite common option is to write an essay starting with a question, the answer to which is given afterwards.

How to plan an essay

You should not strive to make a perfect outline at once. It can be edited in the course of the work. It is not necessary to make an outline when writing an essay at all, nor is it necessary to stick to a plan that has already been written. The absence of restrictions and rigid frameworks is an advantage of this genre. If it is easier for an author to stick to a strict plan, then it is worth taking the time to draw it up.

All the main thoughts should be reflected in the form of paragraphs in the plan. Then detail it as much as possible by breaking each point into sub-paragraphs.

Then you should reread the plan, making sure that each point is in its place and sufficiently detailed.

What the essay structure consists of

The order of writing an essay usually boils down to three steps.

  • Opening section

Like any written work, an essay contains an introductory part or introduction.

A well-written introduction makes the reader interested and read the essay to the end. The introduction may contain the formulation of the problem and its essence, a rhetorical question, a quote, etc. It is important to create a special emotional mood and bring the reader to the problem at hand.

  • Substantive part

The main body can present different points of view on the issue at hand, and touches on the background to the problem.

The main body is usually made up of several sub-paragraphs, each consisting of three sections: the thesis (the argument used to prove the thesis), justification (the arguments used to prove the thesis), sub-conclusion (a partial answer to the main question).

Arguments are judgements made to convince the reader of the truth of a certain point of view. They can be different situations from life, scientists' opinions, evidence, etc.

The conclusion brings together all the conclusions drawn from each thesis presented in the main body. The reader must come to a logical conclusion based on the arguments presented. The conclusion re-states the problem and draws a final conclusion.

If the aim of the introductory part is to interest the reader, the aim of the last sentences is to add integrity to the overall picture, to leave the work in the reader's mind, and to provoke reflection.