How to Start Writing an Essay
If you got no idea how to start your college essay, we suggest that you’re just not prepared for it. Believe us, with a proper plan and research you’ll easily overcome all problems that may stop you from writing now. First of all, let us tell you what your essay will look like: it will begin with an introduction that will hook your readers, present your three main ideas and a thesis statement that the entire essay will be based on. But let’s take a break and consider the whole writing process in details.
- Get ready
Figure out what your assignment is. Even if you think that you’re ready to start right now, make sure that you understand the task clearly. You have to write exactly what you’ve been asked. Check out the word count, the deadline, and features of required research. Let us tell you what is really important:
- Word count. Keep in mind the necessary number of words. If your essay must be 500 words long, don’t make it shorter nor longer. Obviously, a short essay will be bad, but don’t try to impress readers with thetoo long essay. A deviation from the determined word count shouldn’t exceed 10%. Moreover, it’s better to make your essay 10% shorter than longer.
- The required research. Some essays must be written only based on your own research. For others, you can use various sources (books, articles, newspapers), or even course materials. In either case, research is necessary for most types of essays.
- If you have any concerns about your topic or other features of your assignment, ask your teacher and clarify all the details.
- Familiarize yourself with common essay types
There are many types of essays that you have to write in college, so it will be good for you to study common features and differences between various types. By doing this, you will prepare for any kind of writing task, and know what exactly your tutors expect from you.
- Analytical essays are most common in literature classes. You have to read a certain work and analyze all its peculiarities. Such as characters, ideas, words, literary devices, and so on.
- Research essaysrequire you to study a certain topic and conduct a research on its history, important issues, and prospects.
- Argumentative/persuasive essays are aimed to convince your readers to accept a certain point. You have to explain your own views and also why an opposite point is wrong.
- Expository essays consider a certain situation or a process, describing them in details. For example, it may be a detailed description of your life ona campus.
- Compare and contrast essays are aimed to compare two subjects, ideas, or events. In this case, you will have to describe differences and common features. For example, you may be asked to compare football and soccer.
- Consider your audience
Who will read your essay? Is it your instructor or your peers? Maybe your audience consists of experts in your field? Depending on the type of your audience, your language and style may vary. For example, if you’re writing for academics, you can use an extended vocabulary and mention some specific theories. But if your audience consists of students, you will have to explain all terms and provide them with necessary information on the background of your topic. If you’re not sure that your audience is familiar with the subject of your research, provide as many details as possible to draw a full picture.
- Define the purpose of your essay
What is the purpose of your essay? Should it inform your readers, or entertain them? Depending on the essay type, it may provide an accurate analysis, define certain terms, persuade readers, or just tell them a story from your life. If you clearly understand the purpose of your paper, you will easily reach theright audience and create the right impression. For example, persuasive essays imply you to convince your readers to accept your point by providing a persuasive argument and refuting opposite points.
- When analyzing a certain book or a play, provide evidence from the considered source to support your thesis;
- When writing a compare and contrast essay, study both subjects and write about how they differ and what they have in common;
- If your essay is informative, make sure that it provides readers with all details necessary for the deepest understanding of the subject.
- Choose your tone
Your tone is really important if you want to create a successful essay. Most often, you have to be serious and professional. However, you shouldn’t sound prejudiced. It won’t help you to make your research look more convincing. We also suggest not using any slang phrases, because they make your essay unprofessional. On the other hand, when writing a personal essay, you can use a little more relaxed language. Remember two important things about thetone of your essay:
- Your tone reflects your mindset towards the subject. Is it passionate, excited, cynical, or critical? Make sure that your tone is appropriate to your topic.
- When writing a research, your tone must be informative and objective. If your essay is about online games, for example, it may be informal.
- Do a research
It’s hard to write an essay if you have no idea what you’re writing about. Thus, do your research before you started writing. You have to collect necessary data that will serve as a basis for your essay. Always take notes while reading sources. Read as much as you need to better understand your topic and all its specific details.
- Use only credible materials written by authoritative experts. Don’t write your essay based on information from Wikipedia.
- Take notes to remember any useful facts.
- Get acquainted with APA and MLA citation formats.
- Get ideas for your thesis statement
Once you’ve collected all necessary information, you have to write a thesis statement. This is a backbone of your paper, so we suggest taking this task seriously. Don’t start writing an essay unless you have a clear understanding of what your thesis statement will be about. Good thesis statements have certain common features, such as:
- They can be demonstrated;
- They are written in the third person;
- They can be argued.
- Write a thesis statement
Your thesis statement must clearly represent your arguments. You also have to be able to prove it, so don’t try to write something that you cannot support by evidence. Find an interesting relevant argument related to your topic, and select at least a couple details that will help you prove the thesis.
- Write an outline
An outline is avery important thing, because it allows you to pan the whole essay. With the help of the outline, you’ll know exactly what you will write and how. Draw up the logical structure of sentences and organize your arguments. The general structure of an essay includes three major sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Your outline also must include your arguments and evidence. As for the sentence structure, here is a draft:
- Introduction: the hook; three main ideas; thesis statement.
- Body paragraph 1: introductory sentence; point 1; evidence.
- Body paragraph 2: introductory sentence; point 2; evidence.
- Body paragraph 3: introductory sentence; point 3; evidence.
- Conclusion: introductory sentence; three main points (briefly); thesis statement.
- Write an introduction
An introduction consists of three parts: the hook, brief presentation of your three main points, and the thesis statement. The hook is aimed to attract attention and interest your audience so they will want to read more. It must reflect your key points and give your readers an understanding of what you will write about. Here are three examples of hooks:
- An unpredictable statement or statistic. Shocking idea or statistic on your topic is a good method that will immediately attract your readers’ attention.
- A rhetorical question. This type of hooks pushes your readers to participate in the discussion and so grabs attention.
- An anecdote. Some topics may benefit from an anecdote at the beginning. Make sure that it’s related to your thesis.
Once you’ve done the hook, tell what exactly your essay will be about. Present your thesis statement. Write two or three paragraphs about the key ideas, subjects, or events mentioned in your thesis statement. Usually, the whole thesis statement is written at the end of the introduction, thus concluding it and making a transition to the body part that considers the thesis in more detail. However, you can write it earlier and change the structure. The main thing is that the introduction and the thesis statement must serve as a prompt on your content for readers.
- Write the body of your essay
Depending on the required essay type, the body may include various numbers of paragraphs. Most often, students have to write five-paragraph essays that imply three body paragraphs. You may also write a body that consists of five paragraphs. This part of the essay develops your main idea expressed in the thesis statement. This part of the essay realizes its main purpose, informing readers or convincing them. Every paragraph of this section reflects the structure of the entire essay, including three sub-sections. The first one introduces your point, the second one explains it and supports it with evidence, and the third one completes the idea of the paragraph and moves towards the next point.
- Write your conclusion
The conclusion must sum up the entire essay and provides a basis for further thinking, leaving your readers with an understanding of possible future of the subject or a certain idea. It also must restate the thesis statement, but make sure that you don’t repeat it in an exactsame way as in the introduction. You can also mention some fact or anecdote from the introduction, to make your essay even more coherent.
Remember that you must avoid using the first or second person (“I”, “me”, “you”). All parts of your essay must be written in the third person only. In either case, if your idea begins with the words “I think that…”, it sounds less persuasive and not academic. Just make a statement with no doubts. In order to not use “you” in essays, replace these words with “he or she”, or “one”.
- Revise your essay
We suggest reading the complete essay or a particular section several times, to reveal and fix any mistakes, unnecessary facts, or weak statements. Make sure that you don’t repeat yourself and your text is clear and meaningful.
Once you’ve completed such a revision, let your essay rest for a while and read it again, checking grammar and punctuation.