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The Structure Of An Essay / Writing

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      It is often advisable to draft your essay. Making a draft is particularly important if you are writing it by hand as this gives you a chance to go back and correct any grammar and spelling mistakes, or change something when it simply isn’t clear. If you are typing or word-processing your essay, it is far easier to edit as you go along, and this saves a great deal of time. If your essay is for an exam, you may not have the luxury of a draft. Try to set time aside at the end to read it through and make changes if necessary.

We suggest the following if you don’t have much time to prepare the essay:

• Write down the title of the essay and the title of each paragraph (basically, a list of your main arguments).
• For each of these paragraphs, use a separate piece of paper to draft your main points.

      This method allows you to write the essay without even realising it, you just have to link all your points together.

      We also can add this tip: if the essay is to be written in a foreign language, don’t write any of it in your mother tongue. If you do, you will only end up translating it and therefore creating extra work for yourself.

The Introduction

      All essays should start with an introduction. This gives an overview of everything you will be discussing in the essay without drawing conclusions or being very long. It may ask a question which you intend to answer, or state a hypothesis which the essay will prove or disprove. Here is a sample introductory paragraph:

      Many people have among their school memories the experience of dissecting a frog or other small animal. Dissections have long been considered an excellent way to teach children about anatomy in a hands-on way. In recent years, however, an ethical question has been raised with regards to classroom dissections: is it right to kill animals in order to teach something that children could learn just as well from a book?

      One important thing to remember: if you are writing the essay in an examination, it is often wise to use your introduction to explain your understanding of the question. If, worst-case scenario, you have misunderstood what the question is asking of you, by stating what you understand the question to mean you can reduce the chance of losing additional marks. This is especially true in arts-related courses such as literature or history where the differences in interpretation are what singles out brilliant students from average ones.

The Body of an Essay

      This is made up of as many paragraphs as you need to get all of your points across to the reader. In non-fiction works, such as an essay, each paragraph discusses a different aspect of the topic, and they should be in such an order that each one seems to follow logically from the previous one. You can do this by using linking words such as however, consequently, therefore, and subsequently. Try not to write chronologically, as this is often viewed as trite. Your aim should be to gradually build to your conclusion, however, so there is a sense of progression.

      For example: If you were trying to answer a question such as ‘Do you think Custer was to blame for the defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn?’, you could alternate the point of view of your paragraphs. That is, have one paragraph present evidence that blames Custer and the next present evidence that defends him. It is important to tell your reader about the different points of view on the essay topic, or you will most likely lose marks and/or write a less effective essay. If you’ve ever written about a science experiment, it is similar, with each paragraph dealing with a different aspect of the topic.

      Paragraphs separate your topic into ideas, each of which deserves to be considered independently from the others. It’s simpler to read an essay when it’s in easily-digestible chunks.

The Conclusion

      The conclusion is the final paragraph. This is the point to which you should have been building throughout your essay, so it should appear to be consistent with what has gone before. There are two schools of thought concerning how to achieve this: one says that you should never repeat your previous points; the other says that briefly summing them up is perfectly acceptable. The latter view is the method described here. Again, though, it may differ depending on what or where you are studying.

      The conclusion is where you finally state, in a short and to-the-point manner, the answers to any questions or conclusions to any hypotheses which might have been present in the introduction. You should do this by summing up what has been learned throughout the essay and then drawing your conclusions from this information. Make it perfectly clear where you stand, even if that is somewhere in the middle.

The Final Stage

      If you follow this basic structure, you will be able to write an outline for your essay before you actually get down to pouring out the ideas. You can make a bare-bones layout in which you state briefly what you want the introduction, the body, and the conclusion to say and then work on fleshing them all out. If you don’t have time for a proper draft, it is still useful to plan your essay in this way. At the very least, you will then have some idea where the essay is heading. Don’t forget to check your work for mistakes afterwards.

 PEE - an Essay-writing Technique

      PEE is an essay-writing technique used in English. We will explain what each letter means on an example from a Romeo and Juliet essay.

• Point - Make a point. This can be anything from a short sentence to a few lines.

      Example - We first see Romeo in Act 1 Scene 1. He seems to be over-dramatic, and exaggerates36 everything he says.

• Evidence - Quote37 the text. The quote needs to be related to the point you made.

      Example - Mis-shapen chaos38 of well-seemed forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! (1.1.178-180)1

• Explanation - Explain the quote, what it means, how it works, and how it backs up the point you made originally.

      Example - In this quote, to exaggerate his point, Romeo uses a number of oxymorons. This quote also shows that Romeo is a very emotional and immature39 person as he is acting depressed just because one good-looking girl (Rosaline) turned him down40.

The final finished paragraph:

      We first see Romeo in Act 1, Scene 1. He seems to be over-dramatic, and exaggerates everything he says: ‘Mis-shapen chaos of well-seemed forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!’ (1.1.178-180)[1]

      In this quote, to exaggerate his point, Romeo uses a number of oxymorons. This quote also shows that Romeo is a very emotional and immature person as he is acting depressed just because one good-looking girl (Rosaline) turned him down.

By following PEE, you have the necessary structure to write a good paragraph in an essay.

      Since PEE is an acronym and has several connotations, it is very memorable. Probably the reason why English teachers never stop talking about it.

[1] The numbers in brackets show where in the play the quote was taken from. The first number is the Act, the second number is the Scene, and the third (and fourth) number(s) is/are the Line(s).

05 сентября 2010


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