How to Write a Good Essay in 5 Easy Steps
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How to Write a Good Essay in 5 Easy Steps

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How to Write a Good Essay in 5 Easy StepsPutting pen to paper or – ahem – hands to keyboard can be daunting for the non-wordsmiths among us. Overwhelming, anxiety-inducing, difficult, and frozen with fear are a few words that come to mind. From choosing an interesting topic and writing a slam-dunk thesis statement to keeping organized and citing sources properly, there can be a lot of moving parts in even the shortest of three-page essays. Then there’s all that grammar, spelling, and punctuation stuff. Take a deep breath then take in this super helpful advice from the experts on how to write a good essay or college paper.

First, break your essay or paper down into mini-tasks to help thwart getting overwhelmed. Did your professor assign the subject for your paper, or do you get to choose the essay topic? Is there a required length? A certain mandated citation style? Get the basics down – then get organized. Set aside your library research and reading days, block off your writing time, and keep your notes organized. And of course, plan for a rewrite or two and find a fresh-eyed classmate who can proof your work.

We asked some professors, editors, and other experts to weigh in on their top tips for how to write a good essay. Take note.

1. CHOOSE AN INTERESTING TOPIC
“In my view, a boring essay chooses a common topic, makes common connections, and uses common language. A stand-out essay, however, chooses an uncommon topic, makes uncommon connections, and uses uncommon language. ‘But I don’t have an uncommon topic!’ say some students, to which I say, ‘It’s all the more important, then, to make uncommon connections in your essay.” - Ethan Sawyer of CollegeEssayGuy.com and author of  College Essay Essentials

2. WRITE A STRONG THESIS STATEMENT
“The thesis statement is the essence of your academic essay because it announces the essay’s central claim and structure. A well-written thesis gives the reader a map, an overview, of the essay’s trajectory, making the essay easy to follow and understand. [And] it helps you—the writer—to stay on track. It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts when you’re writing a paper, especially a long one. So, if you began to feel lost while trying to write, for example, body paragraph two of your essay, and you can’t remember what point you were trying to make, don’t worry. You have a beacon to guide you: Your thesis statement.” - Charlene Gill, Instructor of English at Austin Community College and author of  Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond

3. SUPPORT YOUR THESIS WITH YOUR ARGUMENTS
“Use your introduction to situate your argument in the wider critical debate. So, if you’re writing on Keats and gender, for example, you might give a few words from Critic X on the poet’s construction of masculinity and a phrase or two from Critic Y on Keats’s representation of women. Then indicate your own ‘slant’ on this debate. In other words, where do you stand? Is your essay going to support Critical Perspective X over Critical Perspective Y, or develop a new set of perspectives?” - Professor Richard Marggraf Turley, Aberystwyth University and author of  Writing Essays: A Guide for Students in English and the Humanities

4. CITE YOUR SOURCES
“Supporting your point is critical to a well-written essay. Supporting those points using another author’s work is completely acceptable. However, often writers accidentally plagiarize another’s work because they simply do not know how to appropriately cite their source. When using another author’s work to support your own, you must paraphrase and use your own words or put the exact words of the author in quotation marks. Even after paraphrasing or putting the information in quotation marks, you still need to credit the author, and how you do so depends on the citation style you are using – APA, MLA, etc.” - Dr. Joanna Simpson, Mentor Manager at Tutor.com/The Princeton Review Academic Tutoring

5. PROOF, PROOF, PROOF!
“Proofread your finished work with a fresh eye—preferably someone else’s. Not even professional copyeditors and proofreaders trust themselves to proof their own writing. The writer knows too well what’s supposed to be on the page, and the mind tends to supply it whether it’s there or not. So ask a friend to trade essays for proofreading. Or at least let your essay sit for a day or two before you take a final look at it.” - Carol Saller, Editor of The Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A and author of  The Subversive Copy Editor




BOOKS TO HELP YOU WRITE A GOOD ESSAY

College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer  978149263512 Writing Essays: A Guide for Students in English and the Humanities by Richard Marggraf Turley 9781138916692  Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond 9781599637594 Writing Smart by Marcia Lerner The Princeton Review 978-0375762178 The Subversive Copyeditor by Carol Saller 9780226240077





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