A key factor in writing an essay is organization. There are three basic section to a well-written essay: introduction, body, and conclusion. Before beginning to write these sections, writers should plan what they will write in an outline. Consider it the blueprint of a house, which you can modify as you start building.

In your outline, write in short bullet forms what you intend to write for each section, starting with your introduction. You should begin with your thesis statement, which is a statement that explains what you intend to prove or disprove with your text. For example, if you are writing an essay comparing a movie with fairy tales, your thesis could look like this:

Thesis: I will prove that the movie Pan's Labyrinth (2006) by Guillermo Del Toro is a classic fairy tale that lends itself to a cultural studies analysis because it critiques one aspect of culture by pitting it against another in the same setting, i.e. fairy tales versus fascism.

Try to be as specific as you can, since your thesis sets the tone for the rest of your essay. Follow this with short descriptions of the content of your essay:

- Short plot points

- Nature of fairy tales

- Fascism

Do the same for each section of your outline. For the body of your essay, describe what each section of the body will be about, and include what you think should be the first sentence:

Section 1 (classic fairy tale)

Pan's Labyrinth was made in the tradition of classic fairy tales of old by a director who fully intended to use those classical elements to make a culturally relevant story.

- Classic elements

- Uncensored events

- Moral dilemmas

- Bruno Bettleheim

The conclusion is the final section of your essay whose purpose is to sum up your main points without restating everything you have written. Be short, concise, and finish with a closing sentence that possibly includes your personal opinion:


- A movie using one cultural aspect (fairy tales) to criticize politics

- Classic elements used

- Reflection of one man's personal cultural views

- Guillermo Del Toro uses cinema as a cultural tool to scare you and make a cultural impact.

Once you have your outline, start at the beginning, your introduction. Do not simply write your thesis statement and a description of the content of your essay. Begin by giving precise information regarding your subject matter:

The culture of the 20th century has been greatly affected by the appearance of cinema, a story-telling medium which can have an impact on other aspects of a society's culture depending on the story and the storyteller. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is a film maker who has the ability to both tell a compelling story and use cinema as a visual tool.

When writing the body of your essay, use the same structure that you used for the entire essay. Start with an introductory sentence, make your statements, and finish your paragraph, or section made of several paragraphs, with a concluding sentence. If you make a statement that is not your own opinion, do not forget to properly cite the source of that statement or you could be accused of plagiarim and your hard work will be discredited. When citing a source, be specific as to the name and origin of the source and if it is a direct quote, place it in quotation marks:

According to Bruno Bettelheim in his book The Uses of Enchantment, "...a child's choices are based, not so much on right versus wrong, as on who arouses sympathy and who his antipathy. The more simple and straightforward a good character, the easier it is for a child to identify with it and to reject the bad other."

All sources used and cited should be listed in a Work Cited section at the very end of your essay. List all sources, be it books, websites, DVDs, encyclopedias, or even interviews. Depending on which organization you are writing for, there are two different formats you can use to write a Work Cited page, the MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) format. Several books are available that describe each format. A great website that includes examples of each format is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/) which also includes useful research tips and information.

Writing an essay is a writing project which, if you plan carefully, can be easy. Just be organized, plan what you will write before you write your text, use reliable sources, cite your sources carefully, and sum up your ideas.