How to Write a Better Essay

Gives you tips for writing English essays for coursework etc. COURTESY of English biz

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Hk
  • Created on: 26-10-09 16:48
Preview of How to Write a Better Essay

First 695 words of the document:
write a better essay
What can you do to gain a higher grade from your essays? Plenty! And englishbiz is about to show you how. Essay
writing can seem a daunting task even to the best writers - yet it can be made a whole lot easier if you write your
essays in the form of a written argument. Read on to find out how...
You might not realise it, but your essays are already very likely in the form of an argument - this is the very
nature of essays; but their arguments will likely be vague and wandering.
· What's needed is to create an argument for each essay that is focused, clear and well supported. The
way to achieve this? Base each essay on a single main thesis.
o Don't be put off by the word 'thesis' - it's merely the technical name for your overall point of view (i.e. 'how you
feel...') concerning the essay title or question.
· Until you are a more experienced essay writer, developing a point of view is easiest if your essay title is
given in the form of a question.
o If it isn't, your teacher will surely be willing to alter it into one if you ask.
o An example: if you were given the essay title, 'Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of ambition in Macbeth',
your teacher could change this to, 'How does Shakespeare present the theme of ambition in Macbeth?'.
o This kind of essay question will allow you more easily to develop a point of view about the question on which
you will now base your whole essay.
o You must state, in the first paragraph of the essay, what your point of view is (this is technically called your
thesis statement).
Importantly, this point of view must be based upon your interpretation of whatever aspect of the
text is asked in the essay question.
o Here is one possible thesis statement that could be used to create an essay from the above question:
'I believe that Shakespeare presents the theme of ambition in Macbeth through two of the play's major
characters, Lord and Lady Macbeth...'.
o The remainder of the essay will then be no more than your argument to support this overall point of view
(i.e. 'thesis'). This is developed by writing a series of body paragraphs each of which builds up your
argument - i.e. your explanation - of why you think this.
· With an essay based upon a question like this, it is much easier to develop a solid point of view - one
that you can argue for and support in the remainder of the essay.
· Having a single overall aim or thesis for the essay means you can easily make sure that each and every
body paragraph has a single purpose: to develop your argument one stage further.
· Written like this, your essay could be viewed as a means of you writing to your teacher or examiner
about why you think the way you do - and showing that it's a sound way to think.
· This technique will keep your essay clear and focused - which is a major feature of the highest grade
Sounds easy enough. There must be a catch! Maybe...
It can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. Texts - on which essays are based - are often complex; they act at
both an intellectual and an emotional level; their language is often subtle, sophisticated and even obscure; their
meaning can be unclear, uncertain and open to more than one interpretation; and to gain a high grade, you need to
show how the author has made effective choices of language, style and structure to create and shape both
meaning and feeling; also, you might need to take account of the author's context.

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Yet, an essay is still just an argument - or it should be!
This is an important realisation for you to get hold of and hang on to. It offers you a structured and
clear way of approaching and writing your essay.
· It will also make the process of planning and writing your essay easier the more you take its
message to heart.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

1. Work out a point of view that is your 'answer' to - what you feel or believe about - the essay
· This must be based on your interpretation of whatever aspect of the text the essay question asks.
· Interpreting the text - which means considering its different levels of meaning - is at the heart of your
argument and form the main substance of your essay's argument.
2. Use your introductory paragraph to state your point of view.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

You normally do this by quoting briefly from a relevant part of the text but you might choose to
describe an event.
· It's very important NOT to write a long description of WHAT happens. This is
merely retelling the story and loses marks.
· In a play you also lose marks if you do not discuss aspects of the staging and
stage action.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

Here, Shakespeare is saying that the play is set in Verona where there are two dignified families.'
· Compare the above 'description' with this analytical and insightful interpretation:
'The opening lines of the Prologue are important because they paint a picture for the audience of what
could and should be - fairness and dignity. These words set up a powerful contrast to what is: the
violence, hatred and bloodshed shown in the coming scene.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

1.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

Now ask yourself a fourth question:
4. WHY did I really want to write about this thing - my motivation?
And to make your message clear, engaging and interesting, you had to choose words in particular ways. But you
were limited by what words could be made to do.…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

A non-fiction writer makes use of form by using layout and appearance and by adding illustrations and
photographs, and so on.
· All writers use form by using patterns of sound, such as by using alliteration, rhyme, rhythm,
onomatopoeia, and so on.
Can you now see how form can aid meaning (i.e. content)? However, when you look at the form of a text, you
do need to be sure that it is a sufficiently important for you to comment upon.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar English resources:

See all English resources »See all resources »