Essay writing is a critical skill. When we write essays, we reflect on a problem or topic and reach a conclusion. Essay writing promotes essential skills to be applied in both the academic world, and in the workplace. Constructing sentences and composing ideas and arguments coherently are all parts of professional writing which are developed through essay writing. Whether you are in High School, College, or working in a professional field, use these 5 tips to elevate your professional writing skills.
- Revision is Key
It was fiction writer James Mitchner who said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Nobody writes a perfect first draft. The key to writing well is having the courage to change your work completely. You must revisit your writing again and again with the willingness to see it from new angles and perspectives. You must be prepared to delete paragraphs or pages. The ultimate principle of writing is that good work is 10% vision, and 90% revision. A good practice for revision is to walk away from your project for a couple of hours and revisit it later with a fresh set of eyes. Re-reading your work to yourself out loud will also reveal words or phrases that do not sound quite right.
- Begin With a Thesis
A thesis is a paragraph or sentence that clearly defines and explains the central argument of the entire paper. A thesis does not contain examples or evidence and it is arguable. The whole point of the paper is to explain the thesis and to substantiate it with detailed evidence. Develop this argument and make it persuasive. A high quality paper must begin with a high quality thesis statement.
- Make It Simple
When writing an essay, you should focus on the complexity of your ideas, not the complexity of the structure of the paper. An excellent essay does not need to be complicated. You can build an effective paragraph using just two components.
Most people organize a paragraph like this:
- Opening claim
- Analysis and evidence
- Concluding sentence
- Transition to next paragraph
A Paragraph actually only needs two things:
- Overarching claim of argument
- Analysis and support of that claim.
That’s it. Begin your essay with a thesis, and every single sentence after that claim should have one function: to prove that your thesis is correct.
- Organize Your Ideas
The introduction should define the paper’s overarching argument. Each body paragraph should begin with a sentence which makes a specific claim of argument relevant to the paper’s thesis. The rest of the paragraph provides analysis and evidence in support of that claim. The conclusion should be a brief summation of the central argument, and if possible, a development or contextualization of that argument. This could be a smart realization, like something brilliant you learned during the research and writing about your topic. It should be easy for a reader to follow your argument from one paragraph to the next. The first sentence of each body paragraph should advance your whole argument logically and fluidly.
Do not use contractions or abbreviated versions of words. Avoid qualifiers like “very.” We use qualifiers to intensify weak words. Instead of using “very” to qualify a weak word such as “bad,” simply replace the word with a stronger word. For example, instead of using “very bad,” use “egregious.” Also refrain from using slang or colloquialisms. Avoid awkward or laborious language. Do not use ponderous, wordy, conversational or informal tone. Always state your position as a fact and then prove that it is a fact. You should be concise, direct, simple and clear.
When writing and revising your essay, remember that practice makes perfect.
Author: Jacqui Donaldson is an American writer. Her work has been published in The Vehicle, Loud Coffee Press, Across the Margin and others. Connect with Jacqui on Instagram and Twitter @Jacquiverse.