4 Strategies to Improve Your Essay Writing
Essay writing is something that begins in elementary school. If you remember, you probably wrote a short paragraph about something like how you spent your summer vacation or your favorite Christmas present. Perhaps you were asked to write an “essay” about what you wanted to be when you grew up. Not much was expected of you at that point.
By the time your moved through your middle schooling years and into secondary school, you began to learn to write more complex essays. You learned about introductions, bodies and conclusions. You learned the difference between expository and persuasive essay writing. And you learned that you often had to do research to support the points you wanted to make in an essay.
Now You Are in College
And no one will be bothered with teaching you how to write essays anymore. You are simply expected to know how to write a proper, formal essay or paper – in almost every course you take.
You may know the basics, but the expectations are higher now. So, if you want those high grades/scores, then take a look at these 4 strategies that will turn your writing from mediocre to exceptional.
1. The Thesis
You know that every essay must have a main point. The main point is not the same as the topic. The main point is the approach you plan to take, an opinion you may have. To get to that thesis, ask yourself, why is it important for someone to read this essay? What do I have to say that may not have been said to this reader before?
Example: Topic: Hunger in the World
Thesis: We produce enough food to feed the world’s population. The issue is one of distribution.
Both your topic and your thesis statement come in the introductory paragraph, and the thesis statement usually at the end. Make sure that your thesis statement is strong and clear. And every point you make must relate to that thesis statement.
2. Your Opening
If you can come up with what is often called a “zinger” at the beginning of your introductory paragraph, you will have captured the interest of your reader. Your opening sentence should present a shocking statistic, perhaps a stunning quote from a well-known figure, or a short anecdote.
To get the idea, read a few news articles written by great journalists. Their openings intrigue you and make you want to read on. You must do the same.
Example: Bad: Hunger is a real problem in our world today. (trite and boring)
Bad: This essay will be about world hunger. (childlike0
Good: Every night, 14 million children n the U.S. alone go to bed hungry.
You have begun with a shocking statistic – the third wealthiest country in the world still has a demographic that does not have enough food to eat.
3. Sentence Length
This is something a lot of student writers don’t think about. Or, if they do, they think that every sentence must be packed with sophisticated vocabulary and complexity. Using only complex and/or compound sentences tires your reader. He will spend more time trying to figure out what you are saying in that long sentence than he will moving along at a nice pace and getting your points.
Varying your sentence length will make your reading far more interesting. And, when you have an important point to make, do it with a simple sentence, so that it grabs attention.
Example: Despite what medical science has to say, many of us continue to believe that colds are caused by going outside in winter without the proper outerwear. Nothing could be further from the truth. Colds come from germs, not weather.
Here you have used two short simple sentences to make your point. And your writing is far more interesting.
After you finish a rough draft of an essay, go back. As part of the editing process, see if you can make short simple sentences for the big points you are making. Rotate longer and shorter sentences.
4. Good Transitions
This is another common failing of student essay writers. You need transition words between sentences and transition sentences between paragraphs. These provide triggers to your reader, letting him know where you are going next.
Transition words between sentences include “however,” “consequently,” “still,” and “although.”
Example: In developing countries, most citizens do not use or have access to banks. This does not mean, however, that they are “unbanked.” They have cell phones and access to digital banking and can easily make online purchases. Even those who are moving into the middle class in these countries find that digital banking is preferable. All of this is part of a global trend, in fact – the disruption of traditional banking.
Here, the transition word “however” connects two simple thoughts. And the final sentence tells the reader where you are going next – the disruption of traditional banking by new digital methods.
A Final Note
Of course, these are not the only strategies for good essay writing. You have to have a logical flow of thought; you have to edit and proofread before you turn in a final draft. And you may struggle with college academic writing at first. If you do, call upon Get Academic Help – a writing service that has pros to assist you while you work to improve your own writing skills.