Hey guys!! I hope you are all doing great! For today’s article, I decided to share a few tips with you on how to write a good essay. Very recently, I finished writing an English essay for my class, but I haven’t turned it in yet, so idk the grade haha. Anyways, I hope these help you, and without further ado, let’s begin!

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PREPARATION

Before you start any kind of writing, whether it be a short story or a five paragraph essay, always plan out what you are thinking! I swear to you guys, this will save a lot of anxiety from later on, and your thoughts will be more organized when you begin writing. If this is a fact-based piece, remember to write down your sources (websites, books, etc) on paper, if not copy/pasted into an online document. If you work on your own laptop (or iPad, etc), you can open multiple tabs and not delete them, unless you don’t find any information helpful. Another thing I like to do when I write using my iPad is open the private tabs, so that my school stuff does not get in the way of other things I have open such as YouTube, or other social media. This also helps keep a more distraction free environment.

If you want to diagram your thoughts out on paper, you can use different note methods; my favorite one is just writing a few topic sentences on one side, and providing facts on the other. Or, you can write your topic in the middle of a blank sheet and just jot down some ideas that come to your mind. Remember not to plagiarize someone else’s work! To make sure you don’t do that, try just reading a paragraph or two, and writing down the main ideas, important dates, or quotes that you can use later on. Don’t copy anything word for word without citing your source(s) (even though you should still cite at the end).

Also, this is a no brainer, but NEVER pick a topic you’re not even the slightest bit interested in if you have a choice. It will be so boring researching, and it just plain sucks to do something you don’t want to do. If you want to work with a friend (because sometimes you can), make sure you both agree on the topic, or then work with someone else/by yourself. It may be fun with friends, but it won’t be fun when the work comes. Plus, it might be super confusing if you know nothing about it.

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INTRODUCTION

Now when it’s time to begin writing your topic out, it’s probably hard to find a catchy introduction that will grab the reader’s attention. Sure you could just straight up say “I will be talking about ________” , but doesn’t that sound super boring and monotone? Be creative and fun and have a voice! Introduce the topic by making it sound so wonderful and interesting, even if you personally don’t think it is. If I’m ever stuck on coming up with something witty or clever, I will simply start with a question that makes the reader think (hopefully) or a quote (if it’s historical, etc).

If you still can’t think of anything, just give a brief rundown of what you will be describing in your essay. If you choose this way, I recommend writing it at the end, because you might not write exactly everything you planned out earlier (although its best if you could). You don’t want to add a part in your summary of something that doesn’t even exist in your essay, right?

Also, if you have a maximum amount of words that you have to use, try keeping your introduction short, as the facts are much more important than how you decide to describe the topic in a simple way. However, if you need a minimum and your facts aren’t pulling through, definitely try to drag your introduction longer, because not only will you fulfill the needs, but your teacher will think its just you trying to be persuasive.

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BODY

This is by far, the most important thing. Make sure you have accurate facts by double/triple checking them. Even if you already did it in the preparation section, it’s always good to make sure they fit correctly. If you know someone who has done the same topic as you, maybe ask them for help if you are unsure of something. (No, I don’t think that would be considered cheating.) As I have mentioned in the preparation part, it’s good to just jot a quick summary of the facts instead of writing it word for word. You can try to fit it into sentences in your own way, and just play around to make it sound nice.

If you are writing about history, write in a timeline perspective, as it wouldn’t make sense if you jumped from 1921 to 1985 and back to 1870.

What works best for me when writing an essay is writing one main idea, skip a line, write another, and continuing to do so. Then, going back to each idea, and writing the more minor details of it (for all main points), and then just trying to fit those sentences together to make it flow and sound consistent. Also, try to vary the length of your sentences! You don’t want it to sound short and choppy all the way through, nor will it be well-written if it sounds Ike run-on sentences all the way.

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If you are writing an argument, statistics are always a go-to if you’re in desperate need for facts. If you can’t find one online (which is unlikely, but could happen), you can just think of a few questions concerning your topic and ask your classmates/family members/friends... anyone you know. It’s a fact that they think what they think, so I’m sure it would be acceptable (if unsure, just ask your teacher if you can create your own poll).

And last thing, transition words and strong vocabulary is a must if you want to sound sophisticated and smooth. Instead of just listing your facts using “first...” , “second....” , “third....” , try “for example...” , “Furthermore...” , “in addition (to)....” , and so on. If you need help thinking of some, I’m sure you could find many more possibilities online. Just make sure that you are actually using the words correctly.

For strong word choice, don’t just choose simple words, and try to broaden your vocabulary. This is also good if you ever are unsure if you copied someone’s writing or not, and you could change your words to make it sound different (but with the same meaning). If you want to find synonyms, (www.thesaurus.com) is great. Just make sure you don’t go all Joey Tribbiani on it.

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CONCLUSION

To sum up everything you have explained, write a conclusion. These tend to be shorter than anything else, because you’re basically just summarizing what you wrote above. Paraphrase it differently, but keep the facts the same. You don’t have to be too specific, and maybe just end it with a question, quote, thought/opinion... (basically anything that you didn’t use as the introduction).

Also, your conclusion should leave your reader interested to learn more. Maybe give some suspense (even if it’s already been stated), and let them anticipate that there is more to be discovered about this topic that you didn’t add in your writing.

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EDIT

This is probably the second most important thing. If you ever want a good grade, think about all the writing conventions. If you don’t use them correctly, your writing will sound really messy and unclear and disorganized.

This includes spelling everything right (even their/there/they’re), using proper punctuation, and grammar. Capitalize the beginning of sentences, names, places (proper nouns in general), and always put quotes where they are needed!

Have a friend or two read over your writing, so you are positive you didn’t miss anything, or even put it into Google Translate and have it read it back to you. If you listen to what you wrote, you could more likely catch the mistakes. Reading aloud is also a good way. Although you could accidentally jump over words, if you read your writing like you would read a book or something, you probably won’t miss it, and could edit before the due date (oh yeah, never wait until the last minute!!).

And lastly, know your audience; if you are writing this for a teacher, keep your slang to a minimum, and actually try to make sense. However if this is a class presentation or speech, you are allowed to make it more lighthearted. Also, go back and add some speaker notes if needed; mark up where to emphasize your words, when to make eye contact, if you ever have to point to something, etc! This will be an awesome reminder!

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That is it for all my essay writing tips! I hope this was at least a little bit helpful, and maybe I’ll write some more school-related articles (because I’m pretty sure this is my first?).

~ Caylie