How To Write a Good Essay: Start and Preparation Issues
The very name of the literary form suggests its charms and pitfalls. The essay, from the French essai, meaning attempt or test, is a form made famous in the late Renaissance and later Enlightenment. Exceptional philosophers and scientists created essays as the highest form of intellectual exercise. At a time when the idea of the individual spirit and reason independently exploring the world around them was spreading, people such as the French politician and man of letters Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and the Spanish Jesuit Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658) resorted to the essay to express their ideas and subject them to the critical test of opposing views.
The basic structure of an essay consists of three parts – the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. One of the tips on writing a persuasive essay is that, in simplified terms, the structure can be imagined as two funnels connected in the narrower part by a tube. The introduction explains the theme of the work, i.e., it moves from the general to the narrower specific part, which is further developed in the main part. The latter finally leads to the conclusion, which summarizes the work and takes it back to the general level.
- The title and introduction have three main functions: to explain the choice of topic, to present the basic argument of the essay, and to engage. It is necessary not only to choose an attractive topic, but also to engage the reader in style and content so that he or she has a reason to spend the following moments reading the essay presented.
- The main body is the actual body of the essay. Here the author lays out the various arguments and evidence for his or her claim defined in the opening thesis.
- The conclusion, in our case probably one or two paragraphs, is the last and therefore the key part of the essay. Here the opening thesis is summarized as correct and its validity is often generalized.
- One more comment. Typically, it is highly recommend coming up with a title for these three parts of the essay other than the introduction, main body, and conclusion. The title, of course, must indicate which part is which, but an original so-called intertitle will certainly make the reader happier.
Before you start writing
Don’t be afraid of the essay. Do not be put off by the famous names who have tried to get to the heart of things with its help, nor by its popularity in academic or literary circles. While the essay has its given rules, it is very liberal in style, argument, and literary devices.
- Before you sit down at your desk or computer, reach for the classic tools of pen, pencil, or pen and a sheet of paper.
- Write down the topics you can think of.
- Do a little brainstorming, write whatever comes to mind.
- Choosing the right topic that appeals to you and has a chance to appeal to your readers (nothing is easier than testing the appeal of a topic on your parents and friends) is the key to success.
- Why write about race cars when I’m interested in nature?
- The magic of passionate (and informed) writing works well on readers, too.
Now it’s time for library or internet research. You can find dozens, and for many, thousands of pages of text on just about any topic. But beware of sources on the Internet; anyone can publish their text, but credibility may be at a premium. Books or quality magazines (for the purposes of our topic, National Geographic) are more reliable in this regard.
Think about what comes to mind about your chosen topic. The purpose is to narrow the topic as much as possible. It’s time for more brainstorming. Saying that flowers are beautiful is not a topic for an essay. Arguing that orchids, with their magical flower shapes and various intoxicating scents, are the most beautiful may already be. Once you have decided a topic and formulated your thesis, try it out on someone. Is he intrigued by the argument, finds it controversial, wants to know more? Then you have the right thesis!