College Admission Essay Writing Steps
Why is writing an essay so frustrating?
Learning how to write an essay can be a maddening, exasperating
process, but it doesn't have to be. If you know the steps and
understand what to do, writing can be easy and even fun.
This site, "How To Write an Essay: 10 Easy Steps," offers a ten-step
process that teaches students how to write an essay. Links to the
writing steps are found on the left, and additional writing
resources are located across the top.
Brief Overview of the 10 Essay Writing Steps
Below are brief summaries of each of the ten steps to writing an
essay. Select the links for more info on any particular step, or use
the blue navigation bar on the left to proceed through the writing
steps. How To Write an Essay can be viewed sequentially, as if going
through ten sequential steps in an essay writing process, or can be
explored by individual topic.
1. Research: Begin the essay writing process by researching your
topic, making yourself an expert. Utilize the internet, the academic
databases, and the library. Take notes and immerse yourself in the
words of great thinkers.
2. Analysis: Now that you have a good knowledge base, start
analyzing the arguments of the essays you're reading. Clearly define
the claims, write out the reasons, the evidence. Look for weaknesses
of logic, and also strengths. Learning how to write an essay begins
by learning how to analyze essays written by others.
3. Brainstorming: Your essay will require insight of your own,
genuine essay-writing brilliance. Ask yourself a dozen questions and
answer them. Meditate with a pen in your hand. Take walks and think
and think until you come up with original insights to write about.
4. Thesis: Pick your best idea and pin it down in a clear assertion
that you can write your entire essay around. Your thesis is your
main point, summed up in a concise sentence that lets the reader
know where you're going, and why. It's practically impossible to
write a good essay without a clear thesis.
5. Outline: Sketch out your essay before straightway writing it out.
Use one-line sentences to describe paragraphs, and bullet points to
describe what each paragraph will contain. Play with the essay's
order. Map out the structure of your argument, and make sure each
paragraph is unified.
6. Introduction: Now sit down and write the essay. The introduction
should grab the reader's attention, set up the issue, and lead in to
your thesis. Your intro is merely a buildup of the issue, a stage of
bringing your reader into the essay's argument.
(Note: The title and first paragraph are probably the most important
elements in your essay. This is an essay-writing point that doesn't
always sink in within the context of the classroom. In the first
paragraph you either hook the reader's interest or lose it. Of
course your teacher, who's getting paid to teach you how to write an
essay, will read the essay you've written regardless, but in the
real world, readers make up their minds about whether or not to read
your essay by glancing at the title alone.)
7. Paragraphs: Each individual paragraph should be focused on a
single idea that supports your thesis. Begin paragraphs with topic
sentences, support assertions with evidence, and expound your ideas
in the clearest, most sensible way you can. Speak to your reader as
if he or she were sitting in front of you. In other words, instead
of writing the essay, try talking the essay.
8. Conclusion: Gracefully exit your essay by making a quick wrap-up
sentence, and then end on some memorable thought, perhaps a
quotation, or an interesting twist of logic, or some call to action.
Is there something you want the reader to walk away and do? Let him
or her know exactly what.
9. MLA Style: Format your essay according to the correct guidelines
for citation. All borrowed ideas and quotations should be correctly
cited in the body of your text, followed up with a Works Cited
(references) page listing the details of your sources.
10. Language: You're not done writing your essay until you've
polished your language by correcting the grammar, making sentences
flow, incoporating rhythm, emphasis, adjusting the formality, giving
it a level-headed tone, and making other intuitive edits. Proofread
until it reads just how you want it to sound. Writing an essay can
be tedious, but you don't want to bungle the hours of conceptual
work you've put into writing your essay by leaving a few slippy
misppallings and pourly wordedd phrazies..
You're done. Great job. Now move over Ernest Hemingway — a new
writer is coming of age! (Of course Hemingway was a fiction writer,
not an essay writer, but he probably knew how to write an essay just