Essay Writing 101
Written by Sawyer Bullock of North York, Ontario
My guess is that most of you reading this are high school students that are not big fans of English class. Your goal is to get the highest grade possible while putting in the least amount of work.
Well, my friends, you have come to the expert.
I have never considered myself a good writer and have invested a great amount of time and thought in order to now express myself in a semi-understandable fashion.
Here are my tips on one of the core components of persuasive writing: that is, the thesis. You cannot have a strong essay without a clear thesis and an organized structure; persuasive writing says something meaningful and in a way which makes sense. So, check this out and see if you find something helpful for your next school assignment.
A thesis is a statement which is put forward to be proven; it’s the point or idea that you are trying to convince the reader of. When constructing a thesis, ask yourself if it is 1) meaningful, 2) relevant, and 3) focused.
Take a look at possible theses for an essay about Romeo and Juliet.
“Love is dope” – Not focused. Both the terms “love” and “dope” are far too vague and are not related in any way to the text. A good thesis is zeroed in on one particular thing, even if it is talking about a topic as broad as love, for example.
“Romeo sucks at freestyling” – Not relevant. While this thesis is more focused than the previous, Romeo’s rap battle skills are not relevant in any way to the story. A good thesis doesn’t get caught up arguing trivial details or abstract concepts which are not related to the topic.
“Romeo thinks Juliet is pretty” – Not meaningful. The whole play is about the love of two characters, so while stating that Romeo likes Juliet is focused and relevant, it is not saying anything new. A good thesis is something that people can take either side on. If you are proving a point that no one disagrees with, you may want to reconsider your thesis.
“The parallel between Romeo’s first and final monologues as well as Shakespeare’s twentieth sonnet suggests that Romeo was contemplating suicide hours prior to meeting Juliet” – Focused. Relevant. Meaningful. This thesis gives insight into a main character and into a main plot event. It is provocative and probably something which the reader has not thought about before.
Now that you have a world-changing thesis, make an outline of how you will prove it. Usually the sentence following your thesis looks like this:
“This will be shown through ___________, __________, and ____________.
Each blank space is a point which you will expand into a paragraph. After those three paragraphs, you conclude your essay by once again restating your thesis and how you proved it.
Simple enough, huh?
Fight to keep your essay reigned in, though. Make an outline and actively return to it during the writing process.
If you do these things well, you will have an organized essay which makes a persuasive case. Clarity, focus, and concision are characteristics of great writing which are within all our reach.
All the best in your upcoming assignments!