Writing an essay can seem like a bulky task to undertake especially if you are not used to writing long pieces. It can be tempting to sit down and just start writing without any plans or direction for your essay. You can use a handful of simple ways to make writing an essay easier and improve the overall quality. Use a selection of these methods before, during and after the essay to help with planning, readability and accuracy. Approaching your work in the correct manner will ensure that it is well presented, error free and standing out from the rest.
Creating a detailed plan for your work is one of the most important aspects when writing an essay. It is tempting to dive straight in and get words on the page. Developing your strategy and content will improve quality whilst saving you time in the long run.
You can break the essay into segments making sure you have an introduction and conclusion that sandwich your points. Try looking at the word count. If you have 1000 words to write, look to break it up into more manageable chunks. Perhaps 100 words for the introduction and conclusion each. Then split up the remaining 800 words into 4 areas of 200 words each. This instantly feels more manageable and also offers you strict confines to work within.
Now you have a framework you can fill in each section with the points you want to make. The framework will also guide you in removing unnecessary information which will be important with shorter words limits. If you only have 200 words to make the argument then clear, concise writing is in order.
To know what topics you want to discuss will mean research. Get all your research done whilst making your plan; this will make writing infinitely easier as you will not have to keep interrupting your flow to do research. Try to make yourself an expert on the subject before you fire up a word processor. It can be helpful to do your research and planning on a separate screen or paper so you are not tempted to start writing before you are ready.
Stick to the instructions
Keep in mind the instructions offered for your piece of work. The likelihood is that they are there for a reason, particularly the word count. Word count and essay length will be important.
A shorter limit may be used to challenge you to write in a concise and succinct way. Writing a 3000 word essay to a 1000 word limit may feel good, but the person grading your essay certainly will not be thanking you for the extra time spent picking over your ‘work of art.’ It could even be likely that you are only marked on the first 1000 words.
A longer word count offers the opportunity to expand on points and delve into deeper detail on a subject. Significantly undercutting a word limit is quite obviously a problem. You probably have not added enough detail and analysis to your work. Go back through and look for areas that do not fully explain your ideas.
You do not have to nail the exact number of words. There is usually a leeway of a hundred words or so, just keep the rough word limit in mind when making your plan.
Check your sentence structure
The dreaded waffle. Writing your essay with the correct sentence structure can make it 10 times easier to read and understand.
It can be quite easy to write long sentences that end up as whole paragraphs. Long sentences are generally hard to follow and can make a reader lose interest. Short sentences can make clear, concise points. If you are regularly writing sentences over 20 words long try replacing a comma with a full stop. This can help you to bring closure to a specific thought or point before you expand upon it in more detail.
Use active language
To get slightly more technical with your writing, try converting sentences into active language. It will make your writing clear and to the point whilst engaging the reader. Passive language may have the opposite effect being vague with too many words.
What is active language?
Active language is structuring a sentence so that the subject performs the action.
What is passive language?
Passive language is structuring a sentence so the subject receives the action.
Active – The postman posted the letter
Passive – The letter was posted by the postman
It can be tough trying to spot active and passive language. Try looking for some key signals including the word ‘by’ which appears in the passage above. Also look for where the subject appears in the sentence. In the examples above the subject (postman) appears early on in the active sentence but at the end of the passive sentence.
Generally, quotes can be used in most pieces of work including academic essays. The quickest place to find examples of writing with quotes is to pick up a newspaper. You can expect virtually every article to include quotes and interviews from experts that confirm points and opinion. You may not have time to go out and get interview quotes for your essay, but include direct quotes that you find during your research.
The key to a good quote is authority. Picking opinion and unchecked fact from social media is not going to cut the mustard, try something from an academic journal or a qualified expert in the correct field.
Add a conclusion
Your conclusion brings the essay back together leaving the reader an understanding of the overall points. Suddenly finishing a piece of writing leaves the reader trying to piece together a puzzle in darkness. Try turning the lights back on for them with your work, offering a full picture of information. It may feel repetitive and that you have just told the reader what they need to know, but a tidy summation will leave them with a clear set of points you have made.
This is probably the easiest way to improve any piece of writing. It is guaranteed that you will have made mistakes during your work and a computerised spell check is not enough. Go through your work with a fine comb.
It is not always easy to edit your own work and a good way is to read it aloud which will help you understand how it reads. Check your grammar and spelling. If you are still unsure, ask someone else to go through the work to highlight any mistakes. A helpful piece of software is Grammarly.com which checks your grammar and use of words correctly. Do not rely on technology like this, make sure you are double checking everything manually. Perhaps use spelling and grammar technology as a final sweep.
There are lots of simple ways to improve the quality of your writing and the 7 tips above are sure to gain you extra marks. Your essay will be easier to write and, more importantly, easier to read. Use planning and guidelines to give yourself an easier time. Structure your writing in a manner that will make it straightforward to read and pick out the main points. Finally, check for any silly mistakes that are going to cost you marks despite all the hard work.