Guide to Essay Writing

Essays aren't just for English Majors (sadly)


College is a planet all unto itself where new species thrives and the laws of nature are completely discombobulated and skewed. Yet, that doesn't mean your professor will accept fragmented sentences, misspelled words (no text-slang isn't correct spelling), yada yada yada. I'm pretty positive that is crap you already know. Ha-ha, if only essay writing was more simplistic, we would all have jobs, live on yachts and drink martinis for brunch. If only.

It's depressing to realize that the only thing in your way from attaining a degree is that final exam paper. Worth 50% of your grade, it's all or nothing. Kiss yourself into another semester of dorming and rotten food. Don't worry, I got yo' back. (That wouldn't fly in a paper, FYI).

Soooo...these tips are aspects to writing that I have learned over time (to my credit I have written A papers on topics I have had no knowledge on, I am an English major, I write everyday, ect. ect., so you can trust me as a reliable source). 

The most vital and imperative aspect of your paper is..


1. HAVE AN IDEA. You've just read Ava by Carole Maso, or The Taming of The Shrew by Shakespeare, or insert the text you've been punished with for five months. Now, in the last two weeks you are given, what I like to call, a "clean up" essay--an essay which implements the concepts and theories which you have learned throughout the semester. It isn't a summary of the book, but a summary of the skills and how well you have grasped them. The thing to keep in mind is to always, always, always have an idea about the text. The good news here is that you don't necessarily have to be correct about your idea--but you HAVE to support it. For example: an essay on The Taming of The Shrew about how the characters are self-reflected in Shakespeare's use of a play within a play (metafiction) is a solid foundation. Normally, you can always hash out your idea with your professor! Many students overlook the opportunity, but another perspective, especially your professors, can shed insight on your topic and help you move along with that A paper.

2. Start Early. If you begin writing the night before your paper is due, you don't jeopardize the integrity of your paper. You allow for stupid mistakes: grammar, spelling, tenses. Silly things like these can mean the difference between an A and a B. Starting early doesn't mean you have to go at it two weeks in advance, but at the least give yourself three days. In these three days a number of things can occur which can you can fix and receive an improved grade. First, by the time you are completed with the first page your thoughts may have changed. This occurs a lot if you aren't sure what to write when you begin and it is a good thing that it happens. You have now cleared your thoughts and understand what you want to say (going back to the first point), the first page that may have taken you an hour should now take you ten minuets!  Like I said previously, going through and re-reading your paper allows you to find silly mistakes! Not only do those mistakes hurt your grade, they can be pretty embarrassing!

3. Give the draft to your professor. Professor should allow for you to give them a draft of your paper. (If they don't, hit up the writing center!, they can go over it as well but not in the way your professor could). Ask your professor the policy on this: some professors want the draft at a certain time before the final draft is due in order to give you feedback. The reason to give it to your professor is simply: they are the ones grading you. Therefore any feedback is valuable feedback in attaining a higher grade. You can't go wrong letting them scan your paper! The second aspect of this is somewhat indirect. Giving them your paper early shows that you are working hard for an A. It also shows that you did it. If you forget to hand it on, if the professor loses it, or if there are technical difficulties it's not as bad because they already read most of your paper! So, no more excuses.


4. Reflect. The best way to learn this is in application: when writing reflections on the paper you just wrote. Even if it isn't a part of the assignment, knowing and comprehending why it is you wrote what you wrote helps you in the future. One of the big myths about essay writing is that you learn how to write. Maybe in high school that was true, but now it's adult time. Essays help develop your ideas. They allow you to expresses in clearly stated sentences what you think and with evidence why it is that you think that way. Learning isn't always obvious, but there are skills in writing that will help you throughout your career. So don't shrug it off and think it isn't important.

It is. And now that you have your A+ and on your way to graduate, break out the martini's and bikini's! Ahola!