Monthly Archives: January 2016

Prewriting Techniques for Your Essay

prewriting

There are different prewriting techniques to help you structure your research before begin to write an essay. Prewriting techniques will make your topic clear and prevent you from getting stuck. Obviously, your professor is expecting to see a well-organized paper, which presents a story or a branch of interesting facts. Prewriting techniques and exercises will help you develop your argument and determine the course of draft.

Creating an outline

An outline will help you structure your essay in the way your audience can understand and follow it easily. You can make it informal: just put down your thesis statement, briefly describe what to begin with, in the introduction, move to the body of your paper and describe what every paragraph will discuss, and finally include what you want to say in the conclusion.
Sometimes professors ask their students to develop a detailed outline with headings and subheadings to show the bonds between facts and ideas in the essay. This one might look as follows:

Introduction

  • Attention grabber
  • Include an interesting fact or statistical data to grab your reader’s attention.

  • Brief background
  • Write a couple of sentences to describe the history of topic/issue.

  • Thesis statement
  • End it with a strong thesis statement which embodies the main argument of the paper.

Body paragraphs

  • Topic sentence
  • Every paragraph should contain a claim that shows what you are going to discuss in it.

  • Supporting argument
  • Explain the claim and don’t forget to support it with quotations from reliable sources.

  • Analysis
  • Explain how your argument supports the claim and essay’s thesis statement.

Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Offer a solution for a problem if it is possible.
  • What are your ideas about the future analysis of the issue?
  • If your paper requires you to write about specific areas of the topic, include more detailed information about them in your body paragraphs.

Prewriting exercises

  • Question-asking

  • This exercise will help you to determine where to start with your writing. It requires you to write down a list of questions that are relevant to your topic. If something seems to be unclear about the topic, formulate legitimate questions and try to answer them when you begin to read background materials. This will help you clear up the air and get a lot of thoughts and ideas to start with. Also, think about the potential questions your audience may have and force yourself to find the answers. By means of these answers, you will get the general concept for your essay.

  • Brainstorming

  • Give yourself fifteen minutes and write down as many ideas and questions about the topic as you can. For example: What is the most interesting thing about this topic? What can my audience and I learn from this? What are the benefits of learning more about it? Most often these ideas are the main points of the topic.

  • Mindmapping

  • Take a piece of paper and a draw a circle in the center of it and write the subject of your essay in that circle. Below write down the main points you are going to discuss and circle each of them, too. Think of other ideas relevant to the main points, write them down below and connect them with lines. Repeat this process until you run out of ideas. This will help you identify the main points for your paper and discover how they are linked to each other.

  • Freewriting

  • Start with summarizing your topic in one sentence. Then write everything that comes to your mind about without censoring your ideas. Forget about grammar and punctuation, just let your ideas flow. Don’t pressure yourself to make it perfect and just don’t stop writing. If you give it a chance, it might work as a powerful creative tool and take your ideas somewhere extremely productive and unexpected.

Outlining and other prewriting exercises will help you to keep focused on every aspect of your research. It becomes particularly effective at times when you need to go back and clarify all important points not to miss something. Use these planning tips and you will never get lost in your drafting and writing!

How to Use Quotes in a Literary Analysis Essay?

books for quotes

Quotes in literary essays serve as textual evidence used to strengthen your interpretation of the text. When inserted correctly, quotes support your arguments and bring the necessary background to your writing. However, when used incorrectly, quotations can only bring mess in your essay and ruin your arguments. This guide will help you understand how to quote effectively.

When to use quotes

Your tutor has probably told you to back-up your thesis statement with arguments. However, randomly used quotes will hardly strengthen your idea. You should use quotes at selected moments because the major part of your essay should be your own thoughts (it is your essay, isn’t it?). Here are some conditions using quotes:
When you want to include particularly important words from an authoritative source to highlight the credibility of your argument.

  • When you need to include information that is not generally known.
  • When you want to include a passage that is worthy of analysis.
  • When you want to analyze and evaluate a someone’s work.

The third point is especially useful in literary analysis essay.
If you find an argument which is relevant to your topic, but it is not one of those four cases described above, consider:

  • Summarizing: sketch only the key point in the passage;
  • Paraphrasing: convey the information from the passage in your own words.

Depending on what type of paper you are writing, you can also use other types of evidence like statics, paraphrasing, or data. As distinct from the literary essay, scientific writing relies on summarizing more than direct quotes. Obviously, you should consider the discipline and audience for which you are writing. For instance, literary essay or analysis should include direct quotes from the original text you are analyzing while Sociology or Political Science papers may rely on statistics and paraphrasing.

How to incorporate quotes into text

Once you have decided which quotes you need to use, your next step is to incorporate them into your essay. Remember, the words and explanations which you include before and after a quote are as important as the quote itself. Imagine that your quotation is the filling in a pizza: it is tasty, but nobody is going to eat it without a pizza dough. Your comments are going to serve as a “dough”, a necessary part of each pizza. Here are some instructions for inserting and following up quotations:

  • Attribute a quote to the source

Don’t forget to specify who is speaking.

  • Provide context

The quotation does not tell a story on its own. Therefore, you have to provide a clear context that sets when, why or under what circumstances the quote was written.

  • Introduce a quotation

To introduce a quote, explain what it is intended to show.

How to format quotations in MLA style

As a rule, the literary essay or analysis is written in the MLA format. Use these guidelines and examples to format your MLA-quotes correctly.

Short Quotes

Short quotes (no more than four lines of prose text and three lines of poetic text) should be enclosed within quotation marks. Include the author’s name and the page number (for poetry — provide the line numbers).

Long Quotes

If your quote consists of more than four lines of prose or poetry, you have to indent it from the main text, but do not center it. Indenting will show that the text is a quote, so you don’t need to put quotation marks.

Examples

For both short and long quotes, use the following punctuation and formatting:

  • People are described by Kenneth Burke as “symbol-using animals” (3).
  • People are described as “symbol-using animals” (Burke 3).
  • Some describe people as “symbol-using animals” (Burke 3), but the others disagree.

For poetry, use the original formatting and put poetry line numbers:

She spired into a yellow flame,
She flowered in blossoms red,
She flowed into a foaming wave,
She stood Monadnock’s head. (120-124)

Formatting may influence your grade, so use these tips to make sure that you format your quotations correctly!