Essay writing tips



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ESSAY WRITING TIPS
You do not have to write your essay in order! If you can’t think of how to start your essay, just make a rough thesis and then jump to the body and start writing supporting paragraphs. Soon, a way to begin your paper will pop into your head, and you can go back and create the introduction. If you think of a way to write the conclusion while writing the body, jump down and make your conclusion. Then, go back and finish your paper.
Capturing Attention:
First, capture the reader’s interest with an engaging title. Then, use a “hook” at the beginning of your essay to capture your reader’s interest. Some methods:
--A question --An anecdote --humor

--An interesting or startling statistic or fact

--A quote (either from the story or a quote from another source that somehow relates to the story)

An intro generally moves from the general to the specific (your specific thesis). A conclusion does the opposite. It moves from the specific (your thesis) back to the general.


Development:
In a longer essay (3+ pages) a well-developed intro and conclusion are crucial to making the essay effective, and just as importantly, to meet your assigned page requirement. Don’t be afraid to make a two or even three paragraph intro./conc. if you are writing a long paper. In general, the longer the essay, the longer your intro./conc. should be.
If your intro is longer than one paragraph, skip an extra space after it to signal to the reader where it ends. Similarly, if your conclusion is longer than one paragraph, skip an extra space before it to signal to the reader where it begins.
Don’t skip an extra space on a one paragraph intro/conc., as the reader knows they are the first and last paragraphs.
Transitions:
Use transitional words/phrases/sentences to connect paragraphs smoothly. These transitions may appear at the beginning of a paragraph or at the end of the preceding paragraph (or both).
Some sample transitional words: First of all, secondly, next, most importantly, consequently, finally, therefore, etc.
Your essay should flow smoothly, like a river. Avoid awkward jumps between ideas.
Quotes:
Use quotes to support an idea, point or argument that you have made. A quote should never stand alone without explanation. In general, a phrase or sentence or two of introduction precedes the quote, and a few sentences of explanation (at least one) follows it. However, a quoted word or brief phrase that you have inserted into a sentence of your own creation may certainly stand alone, if it does not require explanation.
·A “quote” is an excerpt from the text. (It may or may not be dialogue.)
·Remember, a quote can be a couple of words, a sentence, or an entire paragraph
·Make a parenthetical citation for each direct quote. “xxxx xxxx xxxxx” (2).
--Vary the length of your quotes. Remember, “Variety is the spice of life” (and of essays!)

Quote Insertion Methods:
Beginning of sentence

“You’re driving too fast,” Mrs. Mitty says, nagging Walter in her customary way (7).


End of sentence

Mrs. Mitty pesters Walter in her customary way, exclaiming, “You’re driving too fast” (7).


Middle of sentence

Walter declares, “We only live once,” but then he surprises us when he adds, “or do we” (9).


A quoted word or two inserted for emphasis:

The “craven” character of Benbow is depicted as cowardly, providing an amusing contrast with the ever-courageous surgeon, Walter Mitty (10).


A phrase integrated seamlessly into your own sentence:

The narrator proudly announces that Walter is “inscrutable to the last” (11), despite his tragic fate.


Note that the quotes flow smoothly into the sentences. This is achieved primarily through the use of speaker tags (For instance, “Walter declares” in example 2)
Do not insert quotes abruptly. Don’t do this:

Walter maintains an aura of mysteriousness. “We only live once”(9).
Don’t do this:

“We only live once.” Walter often says mysterious things.
Note that you write in present tense. (The story is always happening.

Block Format (for quotes 4+ lines; poetry 3+ lines) Note: in a paper of less than 4 pages, block quotes should be avoided, lest your teacher accuse you of too much quoted material and not enough of your own ideas. A block quote looks like this:
In the following scene, Walter heroically saves the day by inserting a pen into a malfunctioning machine:

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. (12)


The use of a pen cartridge to save the day is highly improbable, which makes this scene funny. [further explanation here]
Note: no quotation marks, and the period goes before the (#)
Elipsis…For omitting words/phrases from quotes:
If you remove a word or phrase from a sentence, and the quotation appears to be a complete sentence, then you must use an ellipsis (three periods) to signal the removal.
Examples:
Original Sentence: “From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast” (325).
“From that chamber,… I fled aghast” (325).
“From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled…” (325).
If you only quote a word or phrase, it will be obvious that you left out some of the original sentence, so you do not need to use an ellipsis.
Some instructors prefer that brackets [ ] be placed around ellipsis. I do not have a preference; use them if you wish. However, if the author you are quoting uses an ellipsis, put brackets around your own to distinguish them.
[ ] Brackets to indicate changes and additions to a quote
When you truncate a quote through the use of…you sometimes need to add a word or phrase for the quote to be grammatically correct. Put brackets [ ] around any word(s) you insert into a quote to indicate that they are your own.
Similarly, if you change the tense of a quoted word, from past to present, for example, put a bracket around the change.
Examples:
Original Sentence: “From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast” (325).
“From [Roderick’s house], I fled aghast” (325).
At the end of the story, the narrator “fle[es] aghast” (325).


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