Writing a Good Essay

         This article will explain several tips on how to write a good essay. However, if you are looking for tips on how to write an essay, you should find a resource that teaches you how to write a five-paragraph essay (FPE). (Most of you probably already know how to do this.) The internet has thousands of resources to help you learn, and most of them are good. Most relevant sites will also explain how to create and use an outline. So, if you do not already know how, go find out, and when you have a couple of notches in your FPE belt, come back. From now on, this article will focus on how to write interesting and good essays. Please thank Payforessay’s staff for constructing this great writing tips page!


Finding Good Information for Writing Good Essays

        The simplest way to find excellent information on the Internet for writing essays is to do a search, not on how to write essays, but on good essay style. Just about every college or university has a web page on the format and style for submitting papers at that school. Sometimes these pages can be helpful, especially when they have online workshops sponsored by their writing centers. Many people have written dozens of essay and love to share good essay tips. However, independent regional and national writing associations run the best web pages about essay writing. These can be .com, .net, or .org sites. Check out The Elements of Style by William Strunk at www.bartleby.com. This manual is an English language standard; everyone has heard of it. The National Writing Project is another great resource (www.nwp.org).

          If you need general information and a place to get ideas for essays, try randomly following hyperlinks in any Wikipedia.org article or online news stories. Eventually you will find a topic that interests you, and you can use the information you find on that page, as well as find legitimate resources at the bottom to cite for your references. (By the way, almost no professors will allow you to cite Wikipedia directly.) Many college websites also have lists of ideas for essay and research paper topics.


Writing a Good Five Paragraph Essay

         Interesting essay topics that lead to well written essays are difficult to find. This is because FPEs are logical black holes. Making a succinct argument only requires a paragraph, at most. Anything logically complex needs much more room than only five paragraphs. The trick: choose a completely irrelevant topic that has no emotional effect on you. The moment you introduce any feelings or passions, the essay becomes unbearable to read. Mushy essays make the reader uncomfortable, and can make even the most pleasant teacher think dark thoughts. Use the FPE to learn how to practice your grammar and writing style. Save your passions for longer papers.

          Still, though, it is worth learning how to write good FPEs. The organizational process should apply to longer essays, and these tips on writing good essays will extend to them, as well. After you find a topic, you should write your first draft in this order: thesis statement (i.e., the first line), the conclusion, then the rest of the first paragraph, and finally, the body. Here is as example topic sentence:

          Americans watch too much television.

         Everyone has heard this argument before. This type of assertion is easy to argue for and against, and offers tons of evidentiary ideas. Because of this, your essay body (i.e. supporting arguments) will be simple to write.

          Writing the conclusion early allows you to establish your goal. This makes it easier to establish your evidence in the body. The thesis and conclusion are merely dots to connect. Here is the concluding paragraph:

          Watching too much television takes up time to do other things that are more interesting. It may be that Americans have to relearn how to spend time without TV. Television offers many advantages, but people can learn to find advantages in other activities that do not affect them negatively.

         Notice how the thesis argument sets up an alternative. I did not merely repeat the topic sentence. In fact, I neither agreed with in nor disagreed with it. I merely used it to suggest that alternatives to the thesis may be better.
Regardless of whatever anyone has told you or what you have read, do not restate your thesis statement in the conclusion, especially word for word. You only need to refer to it. Use the general idea of the thesis in the first half of an if-then statement, or something similar. A restated topic sentence stands out like a sore thumb and ruins the flow of an essay. Another closing paragraph mistake is to turn the last sentence into a leading question or argument. For example:

        Americans may be better off listening to more radio as they did in the old days.

        This is an interesting idea. However, it is a leading statement in that it changes the subject and introduces a whole new argument. Some students like to end essays like this, as if they were trying to add a punch-line or a zinger to make the essay flashy. This is just a bad idea. Use that last sentence to close up the argument, not to introduce new ideas. After you write the closing paragraph, you may finish the opening section.

          Americans watch too much television. Television is part of American culture, and popular shows are what people talk about instead of the news. TV is ruining our children, corrupting our media, and controlling our minds.

         The only thing to notice about this paragraph is that the last sentence provides the topics of each of the three supporting paragraphs to follow. This sentence should be taken directly from you outline.

          The easiest part of the FPE essay to write is the body. Each paragraph should be at least five sentences (paragraph topic, three supporting sentences, and a transition/conclusion). The last line only has to be a conclusion, if you find it difficult to transition to the next paragraph. But, you should have a transition, whether it is the last sentence of one paragraph or the opening sentence of the next.


Writing Outlines and Settling on Topics

          An outline does not have to be perfect before you begin to write your first draft. As a matter of fact, you may not come up with some of your arguments until you actually begin writing. Writing makes your brain work better. This brings up some good points to mention on how to prepare to write an essay.

          I have already mentioned that when writing FPEs you should not try to use complex or emotion-generating topics. You should brainstorm for a while to come up with ideas. However, if you seem to have trouble generating good ideas, set your outline aside for a while and try to whip up a draft on an idea that you are not too sure about. Believe me, the actual act of writing gets your brain in gear, and you will be able to come up with some thoughts that are better than your trial thesis.

          We all talk much more than we write. This is why so many people cannot come up with ideas when they have to write them down. If you have trouble thinking up arguments for your paper as you sit down to write, try this: imagine that you are just talking about the subject with a friend. Walk around where you will not run into anyone that you know for a while, and imagine your best friend is right next to you. Have an imaginary discussion about the topic, and that your friend is coming up with arguments, too. It seems silly, but it will work. Especially if your imaginary discussion is a heated argument. You will come up with more ideas about the subject, and can rule out any flimsy ideas.



          Another skill to work on in order to write good essays is proofreading. How do you get better at this? Read more. That is the best advice I have. The more you read, the better you understand the English language. Another trick is reading the essay backwards. Spelling mistakes and punctuation errors jump out at you when you read backwards. Your brain will not try to assimilate the information while you read, which happens when you read normally and keeps you from seeing errors. Also, make a list of all of the first words and phrases in your work. This lets you see if you open each sentence with fresh language. Also, try taking out all of your paragraphs. By this I mean to start each sentence at the left of the page, and keep a blank line in between each. This lets you see if your sentences use the same structure. Try varying you sentence length, making some sentences short. Readers love short sentences, because they are easy to understand.


How to Write Longer Essays and Research Papers

          When the time comes for you to write longer essays and research papers, the skills you learn from writing FPEs will help. You should use the same type of outline for papers; those outlines will merely be longer and a little more complex. If you have to write a research paper, you should write a simple draft first. While you look up information on your topic, you will undoubtedly find new arguments and subjects to add. Use these ideas to fatten up your outline. This is a back and forth process: your outline and research have to be done at the same time. Many students do not realize this, thinking that they have to write a whole outline (usually to hand in to a professor as proof that you are working on your paper), but this is just silly. If you already know enough to write a complete outline before you do any research, then what is the point of doing the research paper on this topic?

          Longer essays and research papers do not have to be as structured as FPEs. Your outline will be more complex. Of course, you should still follow most of the basic rules, i.e. at least three sentences per paragraph, topic sentences, transitions, etc. However, longer essays are usually more fun to write, and teach the writer more, than FPEs.


The Best Writing Tip Ever

          Here is the most important writing tip anyone will ever give you, and this applies to everything you write. Once you have banged out a first draft, even if it is not complete, set it down for a whole day! If you have not given yourself that much time, at least leave it alone for several hours while you do something else and do not think about the subject. This time gives you fresh eyes and a clear perspective on your subject.

         When you come back to your paper, you will see right away whether the thesis is something you care to write about. You may find that everything looks good, and you can jump back into your writing at once. You may also realize that you should scrap the entire topic and start over. This is OK! If your first instinct, upon reading the draft again, is to toss the paper, then do it! Start over. Do not throw away the old one; just pick a new topic and start fresh. If the only thing you have invested in that topic is a simple rough draft, it is not too late to try again. That time that you give the idea to settle into your brain is worth spending. All good writers knows this, and they all set their drafts aside, sometimes for months, depending on how long the draft is, and how emotionally invested they are in the project.

          We hope these writing tips help. Writing well is not easy, at least not at first. One thing to remember, though: the more you write, the easier it gets. You should take all of the writing tips you find, and try to use them. If they work, keep them. If they do not, at least you have learned that you can do better.