The Ultimate Guide To Essay Writing (In 7 Steps) 4

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”

– Charles Peguy

Every man should be able to write an organized, logical, and persuasive essay.  Especially in our modern Information Age, good writing skills are crucial to success in many parts of life.

At first, essay writing can seem overwhelmingly difficult, but, with knowledge and practice, this writing style can become easy and natural.

The process of writing a strong essay can be broken down into seven steps.

#1 Choose A Topic

One of the most important steps to successfully writing an organized and persuasive occurs long before the actual writing.  Choosing a good subject is not as simple as it may first seem.

Your topic must meet a number of stringent requirements:

  • Broad enough to fill an essay
  • Narrow enough to fit in an essay
  • Interesting to the writer

If a potential subject fails to meet these three requirements, you should choose a different topic.

#2 Research Your Topic

After choosing a topic, it is time to do your research.

Using a variety of reputable sources, you need to find information on the chosen topic.

Even if you already have a good grasp of the subject, you will still need to do this research in order to verify the claims in your essay.

Good places to research include:

  • Your Local Library
  • The Internet (this is a mix of good and bad sources)
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers

Make sure to only use reputable resources.  Your audience, whether they are professors, managers, or some other group, will be better influenced when you use strong sources.

Also during this research stage, make sure to carefully analyze your target audience so that your essay is understandable and relevant to them.

#3 Formulate A Thesis

With your research completed, you should now be ready to decide on your position.

Called your thesis, this sentence will declare your precise topic and attitude of your essay.

Read these thesis examples to get an idea of how they work:

Theodore Roosevelt led an incredibly active and productive life.

WordPress is by far the best blogging platform available today.

Every man in our modern times must learn good writing skills to succeed in business.

Notice, each of these sentences presents an idea and shows the agreement or disagreement of the author.

#4 Create A Planning Outline

Once you have decided on a good topic and done your research, you may want to start writing immediately.

However, to make your writing as organized and logical as possible, you should put off writing until after you have drafted a planning outline.

When I was first introduced to the idea of outlining, I felt that it was a needless waste of time, but, after years of using it, I have become a strong proponent of the outlining system because of the organization it brings.

When writing a standard five-paragraph essay, your outline should look something like this:

Paragraph One: Introduction

(To be planned later.)

Para. Two: [Insert Topic]

1. Main Point One

a. Subpoint One (Supporting Evidence)

b. Subpoint Two (Supporting Evidence)

2. Main Point Two

a. Subpoint One (Supporting Evidence)

b. Subpoint Two (Supporting Evidence)

3. Main Point Three

a. Subpoint One (Supporting Evidence)

b. Subpoint Two  (Supporting Evidence)

Para. Three: [Insert Topic]

(Content same as last paragraph.)

Para. Four: [Insert Topic]

(Content same as para. two.)

Para. Four: Conclusion

(Not planned until later.)

Although this planning is difficult at first, you will quickly get used to it, and your writing will improve.

#4 Write A Rough Draft

Now that your planning outline is completed, it is time for you to fill in the details by writing your first draft.

When you write your rough draft, concentrate on finishing the entire essay in one sitting.  Instead of editing as you go, get all your thoughts on paper (or, better yet, on a computer) where you can edit them later.

Make sure to include the proper citations to backup all your assertions.

When you create this draft, you should not write the introduction and conclusion, but only the three middle (or body) paragraphs.

#5 Edit Your Writing

After you have finished your rough draft, let your essay rest for at least a night before you do anything else to it.  Taking this break will give you a fresh perspective that will help you edit more efficiently.

As you complete this first essay edit, you will have five main tasks:

  1. Correct all grammar and spelling (Are all your mechanics correct?)
  2. Verifying logical arrangement (Are you clear and organized?)
  3. Confirming topicality (Do all your supporting points support your thesis?)
  4. Add or perfect transitions (Does your essay read smoothly?)
  5. Validate good documentation (Is your information authenticated by strong sources?)

After you finish editing and improving your essay, you will be amazed by the marked difference between your rough draft and your edited draft.

#6 Draft An Introduction And Conclusion

Now that your body paragraphs are well edited, it is time to add your introduction and conclusion.

These paragraphs were not written when you created your rough draft because the introduction cannot be written without something to introduce and the conclusion could also need alteration depending on the changes you make when editing.

The Introduction

Introductions should catch the reader’s attention and build interest in your topic.  Your thesis should be placed at the very end of the introduction. You can choose from many different types of introductions.

The Conclusion

Once your introduction is complete, it is time to start on the conclusion.

All conclusions begin by restating the thesis in different words.  What comes next, however, varies depending on the type of introduction you used.

For instance, an essay that begins with a strategic question introduction should end by answering the questions asked.

Simply use the conclusion that matches your introduction.

#7 Polish The Final Draft

Now that your complete essay is completed, it is time for you to polish the final copy.

During this final edit, you should check the same things as you did in the first edit.  In addition, it can be very useful to get someone else’s feedback on your essay.

If you still are not satisfied with your writing when you finish this edit, you can continue editing until your essay is well polished.

Although it may seem tedious, this editing process is the major difference between mediocre and great writing.

What are your thoughts on essay writing?

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Essay Writing (In 7 Steps)

  1. Reply Jason V Mar 15,2010 6:51 AM

    I think that at #3, it is important to decide on your “intended audience” and what you want them to hear. This is what I forget, and I end up writing for myself instead of my audience. Makes a difference how you present the information I think.

  2. Reply Nate Desmond Mar 15,2010 7:44 AM

    @ Jason – Very good point! Correctly choosing your audience is a necessary step in the writing process.

  3. Reply bondChristian Mar 15,2010 4:08 PM

    Good writeup. Someone asked me a couple weeks ago about my idea generation/writing process for blogging. I’ve been planning to publish a post about it, but this is a strong foundation.

    I like Jason’s suggestion too. I’ve found with all the fantastic people online and easily accessible, it’s often a good idea to run ideas by other people. It’s like exploring your audience and getting an editor in one package.

    On a different note, I like the new picture, Nate. It’s good to see your face here – more personal.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  4. Reply Nate Desmond Mar 15,2010 6:20 PM

    @ Marshall – Thank you for your comment. I had been toying with the idea of uploading a picture for a while, but I didn’t get around to it until last Saturday.

Leave a Reply