Essay Writing Tips – Learn from the Greatest

For many students, writing an essay is a daunting task. Often times, they don’t
know where to begin. If students don’t know where to begin, they definitely don’t
know where they will end up.

Instead of letting them flounder through the writing process, break it down into
manageable steps. Here are eight steps to share with your students.

Instead of letting them flounder through the writing process, break it down into
manageable steps. Here are eight steps to share with your students.
Since youngster rarely do anything just because we tell them to, let some of the literary greats be the ones to break the news to your students. The success
of these famous authors will (hopefully!) spur your young writers on to equal

1. Research

Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above
all others: read a lot and write a lot.” For essay writing, this tip is especially

Students need to conduct thorough research until they become an expert on
the topic. They should consult the internet, academic databases, journals,
publications, and any other reputable source they can find.

Encourage students to immerse themselves in the words of great thinkers.

2. Analyze

Once students have a strong and knowledgeable foundation on the topic, they
need to start analyzing the argument of the essay. They should define the claims
they want to make, write out their reasoning for a particular stance, and find the
corresponding evidence to back up that claim.

Students need to sift through the research they accumulated to find the strengths
and weaknesses of the logic. Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts
that people skip.” As such, analysis is one of the most important parts of essay

3. Brainstorm

In addition to all the mind-blowing evidence students will amass, they also need
to have insight of their own. Encourage students to engage in brainstorming
activities. A simple suggestion could be to make a list of questions related to the
topic and come up with answers for each.

When brainstorming, remind students there is no such thing as a wrong answer
or too much thought. Ray Branbury said, “Quantity produces quality. If you
only write a few things, you’re doomed.” This is especially true when it comes to

4. Condense

Remind students they need to condense their ideas into a single thesis
statement. Encourage them to take their best idea and run with it. Use a thesis
statement to structure the entire essay. This will tell readers where they are
going and why.

Edgar Allen Poe could have easily substituted “essay” for “short story” when he
stated: “A short story must have a single mood, and every sentence must build
towards it.”

5. Outline

At this stage, students might feel they are no better off than they were before
they started research. Why? Because a pile of evidence is just as intimidating
as a blank piece of paper. Where is a student supposed to go next? According
to Erica Jong, “The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook state. It
is like believing in dreams in the morning.”

Students need to create an outline. This will help them organize their thoughts
and begin to give their essay structure.

Encourage them to write a one sentence description for each paragraph. Then,
list bullet points to express what information each paragraph will contain.

6. Write

Take the information from the outline and start writing. Students should skip the
introduction and go straight for the meat of the essay.

Each paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports the thesis.
And students need to support each ascertain with evidence. Remind students to
expound on an idea, yet make their paragraphs concise and focused.

Richard Hugo advises writers to “make the subject of the sentence you are
writing different from the subject of the sentence you just wrote.”

7. Introduce and Conclude

Now that students have written the majority of the essay, it is time to focus on the
two most challenging aspects: the introduction and conclusion.

If students try to write the introduction first, they may never make it past the
opening paragraph. John Steinbeck could sympathize. “Abandon the idea that
you are ever going to finish…write just one page for each day, it helps. Then
when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”