Essay Writing

I know there is a lot of material out there on the Internet about how to put together an essay, but after writing this out on boards many times, I felt it was time to commit this to my web page.

I am going to deal with persuasive essays first, but most of this applies to other types of essays too.

I am going to try and keep this very simple to start, and then I will explore the individual parts in detail. So, under "Structure of Essay" you will see a very basic layout. Below that, under "Components of Essay", I will expand and provide ideas for each the the parts. (If copying into books, I suggest putting the 'Structure' on the left page and the 'Components' or right facing page, so you can draw arrows to each component from the structure).

Structure of Essay

Think of the 'rule of three'. There are 3 main parts to an essay, and each part consists of 3 things.

1. Introduction

This is the easy part. Treat your introduction like a 'plan' for your essay. State your viewpoint clearly, then give three reasons for that view. Each of these points become the three paragraphs for the body of your essay.

1. Start with a hook (or sizzling starter as we have learnt from the 7 Steps to Writing Success program). This is something to get the reader's attention and make them want to read on.
2. Contention. State your viewpoint very clearly. Which side are you presenting?
3. Support your contention with three arguments. These are the big reasons behind your viewpoint. (Many people call Steps 2 & 3 your "Thesis Statement").

(Sometimes you may have to define topics and words in your introduction too, so that it is clear what you are talking about).

2. Body

This is where you expand your 3 arguments as presented in the introduction. Each argument will be in a separate paragraph. Each paragraph should have 3 things:

1. Topic sentence. This is where you clearly open each paragraph with one of your arguments. Restate the argument in a concise and strong manner.
2. You then support your argument. Tell the reader why your argument is right. Often this involves statistics, evidence or examples, but sometimes might just be you elaborating on your ideas. I like to tell students, 'You can do this with EEE's,' or 'This is EEEasy,' as most of what you can add here starts with 'E': elaborate/explain, examples, evidence. Even when presenting support, you always do so in a persuasive manner. Use strong (high modal) language and make use of persuasive techniques, rather than just ramble, rant or rave on. (No 'RRRs').
3. Link your argument back to the topic. Finish your argument by reinforcing your contention.

3. Conclusion

This part can be quite difficult. You want to wrap up without restating everything, but most importantly, you want to leave the reader convinced that your contention is the right one. There are all sorts of different advice on conclusions, but I believe short, sharp and to the point often does it.

1. Reinforce your arguments. This may require restating them or a clever sentence or two that makes the reader think of your arguments.
2. Make your contention very clear again. Leave the reader thinking there is no alternative.
3. Finish with a bang! Write something unique or make clever use of language (such as a quote, persuasive technique like rhetorical question, etc) to leave your words ringing in the reader's ears.

Components of Essay.


1. Writing a Hook/Sizzling Start

Simply begin with something about your overall topic, but that may not give your contention away immediately. It is okay to combine some of the ideas below.
We have been through several of these in the 7 Steps to Writing Success program, but here are some ideas:

  • A quote or dialogue.
  • Vivid description (paint a word picture). Often called figurative language.
  • Emotional or humourous story (perhaps even a personal story).
  • A surprising statistic or startling fact.
  • A list (perhaps with an 'odd-one-out'). usually this is combined with another, such as a question.
  • Question the reader/audience. (Be careful with this one - it should not be a blunt question, but an 'intriguing' one that makes the reader want to read on. Do NOT restate the question YOU are meant to be answering).
  • Define a key word or phrase.

2. Writing your Contention

Simply make it very clear what your viewpoint is and state it concisely and strongly. (If you want people to take action, use "must" instead of "should" for example).

3. Writing your 3 Arguments

These can be stated briefly, but you must back up your viewpoint/contention with reasons.

REMEMBER: The Contention and your Arguments make up part of the introduction called a thesis statement. This simply means what you will be writing about and why.

Check this video for how easy this part really is…

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