Category Archives: General Writing

Book Critique Writing: Play It Cool

Book critique writingAre you feeling stressed about that book critique assignment?

No need to worry. Here are the steps to creating a book critique you can be proud of.

What Is a Book Critique?

A book critique is different from a book report, which is a simple and straightforward summary of the book. In a critique, you may include a brief summary, but your main focus is to evaluate the book, offering your critical assessment.

Before You Begin

Your work begins even before you start writing, while you are reading the book. Take notes as you read on the main message, themes, and key ideas. As you go along, you may try grouping these ideas into sections and then writing your own thoughts about each section. Sometimes it helps to read other critiques of the book to give you ideas.

Introduction

Start with basic bibliographical information: the title and author. Next, state what the main message or thesis of the book is.

Summary

Write a brief plot summary, mentioning each of the author’s main ideas and the main characters. Do not try to cover every detail of the book in your summary. Keep it short and focus only on the elements that are most important. Back up any of your statements with facts and evidence.

Evaluation

Write your evaluation of the book. It may be effective to answer the following questions in your evaluation.

  • Does the author make logical arguments?
  • What parts did you like?
  • Will the reader come to the same conclusion as the author, given the evidence presented?
  • Did the author succeed in making his point?
  • Does the book have emotional or logical appeal?
  • Is the evidence presented still valid, or is some of it outdated?
  • What is the author’s area of expertise?
  • What major themes are introduced in the book, and are they successful?
  • Is there any evidence that would support the opposite argument?
  • Does the information presented in the book fit with your own understanding of the subject?
  • How does the book compare with others in the same genre or written by the same author?
  • Did the author interpret all the evidence in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Does this book add clarity or significance?
  • If it’s fiction, what was the most important scene in the story, and why?

Conclusion

Here is where you let the reader know whether you recommend this book and why (or why not). Include some positive and negative aspects of the book and compare it to others that are similar. Indicate whether or not you agree with the author’s conclusions. Include specific examples to back up your statements, referencing page numbers when necessary.

Revisions

Proofread carefully several times. Don’t rely on your spellchecker, as it might not catch everything. Be extra careful in checking the spelling of the names of the author, the characters, and the publisher, and that quotes are cited correctly. As you read, put yourself in the mindset of your intended audience to ensure that your critique makes sense, that you’ve used the right amount of quotes, and that your summary is adequate.

A book critique is a wonderful opportunity to engage with a text and give your opinion about it, so enjoy it. You will find that it’s not as bad as it seems.

Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Your Favorite TV Shows

Writing lessons form your favorite TV showIt’s one of the best ways to wind down during a study break or a lazy Sunday: tuning in to Hulu or Netflix for some of your favorite shows.

But do you ever stop to ask yourself why you love these shows so much? Something about them has captured your attention.

What if you could make your writing as captivating as those TV shows you love? What if you could write an essay, story, or lab report that held your reader’s attention to the very end?

Maybe that seems far-fetched, but some of the qualities that make these shows unforgettable can also be applied to your writing.

Here’s how.

1. “Blackish:” Show, don’t tell.

You probably love this show because of its humor, and the funny, well-developed characters. Another great thing about the show is the understated social message. Beneath the humor, there is an undercurrent of commentary on racism and LGBT issues. But no one is holding a billboard announcing: “Attention! This is an example of racist stereotyping!” Instead, we see this message played out through the actions and behavior of the characters.

Any essay or report that you write also has a message, or a “thesis.” In effective writing as in a good TV show, this message is revealed through details, examples, and quotes rather than simple and obvious statements.

2. “Game of Thrones:” Realism and accuracy always win.

Although “The Game of Thrones” belongs to the fantasy genre, the writers purposely limit elements of magic in favor of making the story an accurate reflection of the dark and brutal way of life in medieval times. The violence and the dark stories of intrigue make the viewer feel like they are experiencing the Middle Ages firsthand. This is part of what makes the show so appealing.

Your writing will also be more appealing to your readers if you strive for realism and accuracy. Take the extra time to research your topic thoroughly to bring your reader the true blood and guts of your subject.

3. “The Walking Dead:” Examining a problem from all sides.

What if an apocalyptic event occurred in which those who died became brain-eating zombies?

“The Walking Dead” has held steady success for eight seasons by thoroughly exploring this premise. It examines the differing motivations of the characters, how these characters react differently to the post-apocalyptic world, and how these actions influence the story.

Just like a zombie apocalypse, the problems that you explore in your writing have different sides and affect people in different ways. A stock market crash will be experienced differently by a CEO than by a factory worker, and their reactions will affect one another. A good essay or report will examine a problem from all possible angles.

4. “Criminal Minds:” Deliver the profile.

“Criminal Minds” is a great detective show, with a twist. Instead of profiling the crime itself, the B.A.U. team solves it by compiling a list of clues about the killer, which gives them the ability to determine who and where he is going to attack next.

An effective paper will present the reader with a “profile” in the introduction, outlining the list of clues that have led to a particular conclusion. Then you can develop your paper as if you were solving a crime.

5. “Breaking Bad:” How does change happen?

The character of Walter White is a case study on how events can change a character from good to evil. The well-intentioned chemistry teacher is transformed by the events of poverty and illness into a ruthless drug dealer.

Are you analyzing some kind of transformative change in your paper? What are the factors that led to that change? As you examine the transformation in depth, you may find that it is every bit as complicated and intriguing as the sea-change of Walt White.

So don’t worry about your next writing assignment! With a little imagination, you can make it into a hit!

10 Tips to Write a Personal Statement That Works

how to write a personal statementAre you dreading to write that personal statement for your application?

You may feel overwhelmed by the task, but in reality your personal statement is a great opportunity. This is your chance to show the admissions committee the real you, the aspects of yourself that are not revealed by grades or test scores. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your personal statement.

1. Start with a personal inventory. Answer a set of questions about why you are attracted to this field or this school and how your past experiences have shaped you. Some good questions might be: What do you hope to get out of this career? How have your past jobs contributed to your growth? What challenges and hardships have you had to overcome?

2. Do some research ahead of time. What exactly is it about this school or this program that sets it apart in your mind? Uncover some specific information about the school to help you clarify this.

3. Respond specifically to the questions asked. Tailor your personal statement to the school to which you are applying. Try not to cut corners by using a one-size-fits-all personal statement for every school.

4. Include only items that are relevant. Focus on a clear thesis statement about why you are a great candidate for the program. Don’t litter your personal statement with an excess of trivial details. The reviewers don’t need to know your entire life story. Also try to avoid any statements that may be controversial (political or religious statements).

5. Be positive. This is a good place to address any obstacles that you have faced and how you overcame them. Whatever you mention as part of your story, spin it in a positive light and show that you have the resilience and determination to surmount challenges.

6. Write a strong opening paragraph. No pressure, but your first paragraph will make or break your personal statement. Put effort into making that opening paragraph a memorable attention-grabber, and you will have the reader’s attention throughout the rest of the essay.

7. Make your personal statement lively and interesting. The admissions committee will most likely be reading thousands of personal statements, so don’t bore them. Make your personal statement into a memorable story that showcases the real you.

8. Get specific. Any statement you make in your essay should be backed up with facts. Don’t just say that you are driven and goal-oriented. Cite specific accomplishments to prove that this is true.

9. Show your knowledge. The admissions committee is interested in what you have already learned about your chosen field of study. Reference classes you’ve taken or books that you’ve read. Use field-specific terminology to show you understand it.

10. Proofread not just once, but many times during the writing process. Ensure that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are flawless. Professors care about the writing ability of their students, so don’t let a few silly errors obscure your potential.

It’s hard to stand out from so many other applicants, especially if you’re applying to a competitive field. Use this opportunity wisely, and you will certainly shine brighter than your competitors.

7 Reasons to Write Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

7-reasons-to-writeWriting an essay or a lab report can definitely seem like a chore! It’s hard work, and you can’t help thinking that there are other things you’d rather be doing.

But writing is not just some kind of meaningless ritual that professors compel you to do out of routine. There are many ways in which writing helps you long-term, in your classes, your career, and your personal life. Here’s how.

1. It enhances creativity and imagination. Writing gives you the opportunity to explore and use your imagination. Ultimately, that will improve your problem-solving abilities and help you feel more motivated. When you are able to use your imagination, learning can be more fun!

2. It allows you to demonstrate your learning. Sure, there are lots of different ways a student can show that he’s learned something, but let’s face it: most professors are going to require you to demonstrate what you’ve learned through a research paper, a lab report, or an essay prompt. If your writing skills are weak, that’s going to be an obstacle to showing your competence.

3. It helps you communicate your ideas clearly. The ability to write helps us express our feelings and ideas in all kinds of situations! Whether it’s a love letter to a significant other or a petition to affect the social change in your community, writing will help you clarify your thoughts and get them across clearly.

4. It is an essential skill for every academic area. No matter what your major is, your professors are going to expect you to be able to write. If you’re studying engineering or accounting, you may think that you won’t ever need to know how to write, but see the next point.

5. It is an important skill for almost every career. Are you planning to start your own business someday? Well, you’re going to need to write a business plan. Are you studying to become a nurse? Nurses need to write up notes on their patients every day. More importantly, research shows that employees with strong writing ability are statistically more likely to advance in their chosen careers, all the way up to the corporate level.

6. It helps you understand and remember information. What do you do when you’re going to the store and need to remember what you’re getting? You write it down, of course. That’s because writing aids memory. It’s the same with course material: taking the time to write about what you’re learning will help you remember and understand it better.

7. It helps you understand your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There’s a reason why blogging and journaling are such popular activities. The act of writing helps us make sense of the story of our lives, so that we can set effective goals for our future growth.

We know that you’d rather be socializing with friends or vegging out in front of the TV. Writing is not necessarily the most fun activity in the world. But it will bring you some lasting benefits. And who knows? Once you start writing every day, you may even find that you love it.

How to Write an Evaluation Essay

write-evaluation-essayDo you ever read restaurant critiques or movie reviews? Of course, you do.

These reviews are examples of evaluation essays.

You might think that an evaluation essay does nothing more than express your opinion, but actually a good one is unbiased and rational.

There are three key elements of a good evaluation essay:

1. Criteria. Think about what makes a great movie. Great acting? A compelling story? Define the qualities of a great movie, a great restaurant, a great TV show. Defining this ahead of time makes your evaluation seem more objective and less opinionated.
2. Judgment. State how your subject measured up to your evaluation of the criteria. Be descriptive in your writing to engage the readers’ interest.
3. Evidence. Use facts and information to prove that the subject met your criteria, or didn’t.

Now that you know what the three elements of well-written evaluation essay are, here are the steps to writing it.

Come Up with a Topic

Begin with a list of general topics, like restaurants or beauty products. Then get more specific with names of specific products or businesses. Ideally, choose a topic that you already know about.

Write Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement will summarize your evaluation and briefly give your reasons for it. For example, you might say that Johnson’s Restaurant is great for families because of their good service, casual atmosphere, and kid-friendly menu.

Identify Your Audience and Subject

Describe the genre of service and the audience targeted by this product or service. For example, you might say that a certain kind of car is ideal for commuters who have to drive a lot because of its good gas mileage.

Outline Your Criteria

Detail the specific criteria by which you are evaluating your subject. For example, if you’re critiquing a band, you might mention melody, lyrics, and dynamics as your criteria.

Establish Whether Your Subject Met That Criteria

Support your evaluation with strong and specific reasons. You can do this through a chronological description of the subject or you can quote others who are talking about it. You may also describe your own personal experience, or draw a comparison to another subject in the same genre.

Depending on what your subject is, there are several different ways that you can structure your essay.

1. Compare/Contrast: Take an example of something that’s universally recognized as the best within that area, and begin your essay by comparing your subject to that.
2. Unfulfilled Expectations: Begin with what you expected to experience, and then explain that the subject exceeded this expectation, or failed to live up to it.
3. Description as Framework: Begin and end with a description of your experience of the subject. Break off midway through your description to give your evaluation. This structure keeps the reader in suspense.
4. Evaluate based on Criteria: After giving your introduction and evaluation, discuss how your subject performed in each of your criteria.
5. Cause and Effect Analysis: What effect does this subject have on your audience?

There is more than one way to write an evaluative essay, so try to have fun with this opportunity to articulate your opinion about something that matters to you.

How to Make Writing Fun: Simple Tips – Awesome Results

how-to-make-writing-funDo you struggle to write something? Lack inspiration to express your ideas? Then it’s time to inject your writing with a little fun!

Here are some simple tricks to get you excited about putting the words on the page and make the whole process more creative, engaging and FUN. Never underestimate the importance of having fun while writing and you will be greatly surprised with a result!

Give Yourself Challenging Goals

Having a goal increases your concentration and improves your chances of success. Having a challenging goal adds more fun to work. Therefore, try to make your goal super tough and urgent. Moreover, make sure it is concrete and measurable. For instance, challenge yourself to complete that essay in 30 minutes, even if it normally takes you an hour to prepare the first draft. You will see that competing your goal is fun!

Write in Other People’s Voice

This trick is used by most artists. When they learn how to paint, they try to copy the style of the famous artists before developing their own technique. You can do the same with writing. Isn’t it fun to pretend that you are someone else? Choose a writer whose style you like most of all. Then create your original piece of writing, but do it in their manner. Keep practicing until you feel confident using their writing style.

Reward Yourself

It’s really fun to be rewarded for completing some tasks. Rewards will inspire you and make you happy – that is much needed while writing. Think what may lift your mood and reward yourself with this thing after completing the next milestone. It can be a piece of your favorite cheesecake, a cup of coffee, a massage, best-loved film or a magazine. Decide what is best for you – you deserve a little celebration for every achievement!

Use Stickers

Another cool way to make your writing fun is to use stickers. Gather different stickers (people, places, animals, etc.) and cut them into pieces. Then put all of them in a bag and mix them up. Choose up to five stickers and try to create your own story with those objects or events. This activity is really creative, fun and entertaining.

Write to Someone

It can be an email, a message to your friend, a New Year’s card, or a letter to Santa. Writing to a real recipient is fun because it connects you with people in your life and ties to the real world. As you want people to understand your message, you’ll do your best to choose the right words and express ideas properly.

Practice a Relaxation Technique

Writing can be exciting and fun but it can also be very stressful. Make sure you know when to take a rest. Learn how to meditate or practice a new relaxation technique. Choose the exercise that works best for you. For example, you may work for 20 minutes and then have a five-minute break. Do some exercises or simply stretch your legs, just make sure to incorporate these methods into your writing schedule.

Use Drawing or Coloring

Allowing yourself to do something creative with your writing will help you produce better texts, particularly if you hate writing long passages. Use colored pencils or pens and write different words in different colors. You can also draw some pictures to illustrate the content you’ve prepared or replace some words with little drawings. No doubt, this creative way of organizing your writing will bring you a lot of positive emotions!

Write About Your Interests

Choose the topic for writing you are passionate about. You’ll be surprised how much you write about your favorite movie or a singer. The daunting writing process will turn into a smooth and engaging activity if you write about what matters to you. Avoid those topics that cause a writer’s block and choose something you are really interested in.

Even if you use some of these simple tips, you will notice a shift in your writing. Get creative, express yourself, share your interests and just HAVE FUN with your writing every single time! Isn’t it what you need?

Common Mistakes in College Paper Writing

essay-writing-mistakes

Writing assignments for college credit take all different shapes and requirements—and of course, present a variety of stresses. Ultimately, though, a paper is a great opportunity to explore your own ideas and express independent conclusions. Even if you admit to not being the best writer, there is room for success in college paper writing, as long as you see the pitfalls coming and divert via the route of clarity, logic, and compliance.

To follow are some common mistakes students make in college paper writing. Take heed and weed costly errors out of your prose; after all, mistakes are less often related to your skills as a writer, and more often the result of carelessness and bad habits.

Failing to Understand the Assignment

Not taking time to comprehend what a paper assignment calls for is a huge error. Most professors offer ample detail about what they want, so get into the fine print. If the professor assigns 500 words, meet that expectation. Don’t short the essay by 19 words and assume it’s fine because it’s still “in the ballpark.” It is always better to go over by 5 to 10 words (no more) than to miss a word-count benchmark. And don’t question this part of an assignment: there’s method to a prof’s madness in requiring that writers get it said in so many words.

Get clarity, too, on documentation requirements: are in-text citations appropriate, or does this instructor craves footnotes? Ask about how much and what kind of source material you should access and annotate, then dig into research.

Informal Language and Colloquialisms

An academic paper should be presented in formal, academic English; this is no time for “street talk” or for “text speak.” A good rule of thumb is to avoid abbreviations altogether (that includes contractions) and never to rely on slang or jargon. For example, the phrase “a lot” seems to convey something like “many” or “much.” In all actuality, though, “a lot” presents like a noun, especially with the article in play. The phrase is vague; leave it out.

Steer clear of everyday expressions and “trendy” language too, unless the professor indicates this college paper can accommodate it. Elevate tone, elevate content, and elevate end results.

Using First Person and Direct Address

Academic writing typically calls for some amount of objectivity, where first-person announcements like “I feel” or “I contend” aren’t the best options. After all, it is your essay, so isn’t the “In my opinion” construct a given? Take a step back. Distance yourself from the “speaker” platform by using “the author” in place of first person; just don’t get too carried away so that you end up sounding like a stuffed shirt!

And direct address (writing “you this, you that”) is just one more common mistake—and it’s particularly dangerous. Plug in “one” to keep from putting words into a reader’s mouth and to avoid making the reader feel targeted.

Misusing Basic Punctuation

One major pitfall for most writers, especially in college paper writing where authors are spread thin and in a rush, is punctuation. Being comma-happy means your prose is interruptive and stilted; not having an independent clause on either side of a semi-colon confuses a reader. Slow down and edit carefully. In fact, keep a style guide on hand: make use of writing resources available in the library and via online platforms, because every writer needs instant access to the rules and regs regarding grammar, punctuation, and usage.

Writing a Strong Hook Sentence: Start with a Knock-Out

hook-sentence

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his “A Tale of Two Cities.” This sentence, with its riddle-like structure that both challenges and enthralls the reader, is often used to define the hook sentence concept. As the name implies, a hook sentence “hooks” the reader from the get-go and keeps him actively engaged with the words on the page. Getting the reader’s attention early on in your essay is paramount to keeping his attention going so that he’ll actually want to read the rest of your work. The good news is that you don’t need Dickensian aspirations to come up with a killer hook sentence for a simple essay. Let’s look at how you can sell your reader on what your essay has to offer.

Identify the Audience for Your Paper

If you’re writing an essay, you likely are writing to please one person only – your instructor, teacher, or professor. In this case, your audience is clearly defined, and the hook sentence that you write for this type of essay may be completely different from the hook you might come up with if you were writing an essay to share in the school paper with your friends. The audience determines the message that you portray in your hook sentence; it should speak directly to the audience, and the audience should be able to easily relate to what you say on its own level.

Figure Out What Matters to Your Audience

It can also help to determine what matters to your audience. Your professor is looking for specific information; likely this means that you should demonstrate knowledge of the subject being discussed. The professor may also be looking for mastery of APA or MLA style elements. By contrast, if you’re writing an opinion piece for the newspaper, then write with an eye to appealing to like-minded readers with whom you share a common concern.

Effective Hook Sentences

There is no formula for creating a hook sentence, so let your creativity and a few proven strategies guide you. Consider these examples:

  • Give advice. “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend first.”
  • Provide an anecdote. Use a short or unbelievable factoid or story about an incident or person to get the reader’s attention. “Mariah Carey lives in an apartment worth millions of dollars, but her sister is homeless.”
  • Make a bold statement. “Before long, doctors will be able to print new kidneys using 3D printing systems.”
  • State a contradiction. “Donald Trump claims he can balance the national budget, but he’s filed bankruptcy several times.”
  • Define something as your hook. “Agoraphobics are people who do not go out of their homes for extended periods of time; some haven’t been shopping in years.”
  • Present the reader with a dilemma. “Enforcing immigration laws keeps terrorists out of the country, but it also breaks up families and destroys lives.”
  • Go for a quote. “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know” – W. H. Auden.
  • Open with humor. “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
  • Ask the reader a rhetorical question. “What does it really mean to be bored?”
  • Share a statistic or factoid. “As many as 80 percent of students report cramming for finals the night before.”
  • Share a personal tidbit. “When I was growing up, there was no Internet, so kids looked up information in encyclopedias.”

Ultimately, the hook sentence you choose should be one that sparks interest and that is directly relatable to what you plan to write and the style you choose for your essay. A good hook can make or break your essay, so put a little elbow grease into crafting yours to make your essay shine.

7 Exercises to Improve Your Ability to Write Creatively

cliche

Writers, in general, are a pretty creative bunch. But, since there’s no such thing as being too creative, anyone could benefit from some imagination-boosting exercises.

Whether you’re in a creative slump, and it happens to everyone now and then, or you just want to expand your resources as a writer, there are lots of ways for you to open up your creative channels.

Here are some methods to help inspire you:

1) Make a list of 20 topics

Sometimes your greatest creative block will be coming up with new ideas. So, sit down and make a list of 20 different writing ideas. Of this list of 20, at least one should be workable. Start developing it. A great habit for you to develop would be to keep a list somewhere of story ideas. If you do this, you’ll end up with an incredible cache of topics to use when your inspiration runs dry.

2) Re-write

Take an old story or idea you’ve written and rework it. Make sure it’s not something you’re currently working on. If you’re too close to it, you’ll have trouble seeing it from a new perspective. As you rework it, take a completely different view. If you told a story about a family from the perspective of one of the children, try telling it from the perspective of the mother or from an omniscient perspective. This is an exercise in creating flexibility in your writing. You may go back to the piece from the original perspective, but with new insights about the other characters. Sometimes telling the story you don’t want to tell can help you tell the story you do want to tell.

3) Read

Follow William Faulkner’s advice: “Read, read, read. Read everything- trash, classics, good and bad and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write…” The more you read, the more you’ll be exposed to different writer’s voices and styles. You’ll get a sense for their mastery and their weaknesses. Don’t just read for pleasure. Read to examine different techniques such as transitions, character-building, suspense and dialogue. Then challenge yourself to use those techniques in your own work.

4) Try hand-writing

Martin Amis “I always do my draft in long hand because even the ink is part of the flow.” If you’re used to typing, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Buy a notebook and a pen or pencil and start writing in it. Hand-writing means you have to slow down your thoughts a little, as you can’t write as fast as you type. There’s also no erasing, so if you’re constantly self-editing by erasing your work, hand-writing may be a great way for you to tie up your inner editor and unleash your creative voice.

5) Use your pain

J.P. Donleavy “Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.” Everyone has had to face struggle in life. And struggle often makes for the best literature. Recount a moment or experience that was difficult for you. You could turn it into a poem, a story or an essay.

6) Free-write

Free-writing is all about release. If you need to unleash your creativity, try sitting down for 10-15 minutes and write without pausing, correcting or planning. Just write whatever comes to mind without any interruptions of the conscious mind. After you’re finished, go back and read what you wrote. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pick out an interesting concept or theme from your free-write and work it into a piece.

7) Switch genres

Creativity is the result of a flexible mind. If you write only essays or only short stories or only poetry, why not try something different? Choose another genre and see what comes up. It may feel strange and awkward, but by pushing yourself to do something different, you may discover a new source of creative thought. Try it.

Try one or all of these exercises to stimulate your mind’s creativity. It just may help you write better, more imaginative work. Good luck and happy writing!

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!