What is an essay?
Essay writing is an important skill from academic and literary points of view. It demands as much imagination, information, and insight as is necessary to write a novel or drama. For expertise in essay writing, you must understand what an essay is. An essay is a composition that presents the ideas and perceptions of the author on a particular topic. The author argues either in favour of or against an idea or an issue. It is a personalized piece of writing that results from the author’s emotions, experiences, knowledge, and information. The writer uses all or any of these according to the subject, tone, and thesis of the essay. Some essays that cover such topics as science and commerce are based entirely on concrete facts with no personal emotions. An essay helps to initiate a debate. Coherence, balance, and unity of thought make the essay effective and appealing.
Importance of Essay Writing
Expertise in essay writing expands the vision of the author. He may apply it to formulating political manifestos, writing literary criticism, and narrating personalized stories and events. In educational institutions, essay writing is an academic tool to assess the extent of the understanding of students. There is an unending list of essay writing topics that involves every field and phase of life. In educational institutions, instructors suggest various topics to develop and polish the essay writing skills of the students. One may estimate its importance by the fact that many online tools provide essay-writing services using AI. In this era of digital marketing, it has generated new roles for writers. The ability to write persuasive descriptions of products and services is a new trend in essay writing.
Types of Essays
For effective essay writing, one must have awareness of the different types of essays. An essay writer resorts to any of these types according to the need, nature, and purpose of the essay. Generally, we have the following types of essays:
- Expository Essays
- Persuasive/Argumentative Essays
- Descriptive Essays
- Narrative Essays
- Imaginative Essays
- Reflective Essays
1: Expository Essays
Expository means something that explains. Expository essay writing involves sharing information and explaining an idea. These essays are based on facts and figures. The author begins by stating a point of contention and presents analytical data or observations related to it. He also refers to other essays or articles discussing the same topic and presents a comparison or contrast of ideas. For an expository essay, the author needs extraordinary knowledge and information on the topic. The titles of expository essays may be as follows:
- CPEC and Economic Expectations
- Electricity and its uses
- Impediments on the Way to the Higher Education
2: Persuasive/Argumentative Essays
Persuasive means intending to convince while argumentative means full of reasoning and justification. This category generally deals with essays on controversial topics. The author aims to persuade the reader` to agree with his point of view. To attain this purpose, the author presents justifications for his point of view. In an academic environment, the instructors assess the argumentative ability of the students through this type of essay. On a social level, there are mixed opinions about the topics of such essays. Therefore, they offer the author the liberty to write whether in favour or against the idea. The titles of persuasive/argumentative essay writing may include:
- Privatization of Education
- Freedom of Press
- Social Media Platforms
3: Descriptive Essays
Descriptive means something that describes or classifies. A descriptive essay generally describes a personality, depicts a scene, or delineates an event. It demands a keen observation on the part of the author. Also, it requires a strong command of diction and stylistic features of a language. A descriptive essay should be so clear as to transport the reader to the scene being depicted. It should describe a personality with all the features of appearance and character. There should be imaginatively realistic details of the event it delineates. Descriptive essays may deal with the titles such as:
- A Visit to the Slums of Karachi
- The Marriage Ceremony of my Friend
- The Leader I Like Most
4: Narrative Essays
A narrative is a presentation of closely connected events or ideas in a comprehensible order. Narrative essay writing is a kind of story-telling. At certain points, a narrative essay seems to merge with a descriptive essay. But there always remains a slight point of distinction. A narrative essay may have a more fictional outlook. It has a well-knit plot, a suitable setting, real-life characters, conflicting ideas, and thematic background. There is a recurrent pattern that focuses on a character or an event. All these elements attract and engage the reader. Many leading literary figures have written narrative essays. Some of them are:
- Self-Reliance by R. W. Emerson
- Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
- Joy by Zadie Smith
5: Imaginative Essays
An imaginative essay, as is clear by the title, relies more on the imagination than the fact. This type of essay is purely fictional. The essayist tends to explore probabilities out of improbabilities. An imaginative essay generally poses some questions about a person or situation. It then suggests their answers by putting them in a context that is entirely different from the real one. The writer may assume a persona himself or grant the same to another character. He prefers imagination to observation. But he does not let the imagination go beyond the limits of reason. The titles of imaginative essays may be as follows:
- If I Were the Prime Minister!
- What If You Have to Settle on Mars?
- A Day in the Life of a Bee.
6: Reflective Essays
Reflective means based on profound thinking. It shows what one may expect while reading a reflective essay. The author of a reflective essay shares his views on abstract concepts. He discusses such topics as honesty, love, piety, faith, and so on. In this type of essay writing, morals and morality, feelings and emotions have a significant role. Through reflective essays, the essayist tends to bring about moral and spiritual reformation. These essays have proverbial titles such as:
- Honesty Is the Best Policy
- Truth Always Triumphs
- Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied
Characteristics of a Good Essay
One of the objectives of essay writing is to engage the attention of the readers. To attain this end, the essay must have the following characteristics.
- Focus on Subject
- Quotes and References
1: Focus on Subject
While writing an essay, the essayist should focus on the idea or issue being presented. In an effective essay, a single idea or issue remains in focus. If the writer includes too many ideas or issues in an essay, the essay will lose its appeal. Also, the reader will not be able to decide what the essay is about. Whatever the writer writes should support, explain, clarify, and justify the thesis statement of the essay. Suppose you are writing an essay on ‘Economic Conditions of Pakistan’, you should focus on standards of economic analysis. All the other factors you mention should justify your stance on the topic. If you include in the same essay the role of the press in society, it will slaughter two distinct ideas.
Organization in essay writing refers to the sequence or order in which the writer presents his ideas. The essay must have a proper beginning, middle, and end. There has to be a logical connection between one sentence and the other; one paragraph and the other. The strategy to ensure a flawless organization is to devise an outline of the ideas and arguments. A well-organized essay will hold the attention of the reader from the beginning till the end.
The effectiveness of an essay depends a lot on unity. The essay should be a unified whole dealing with a single idea. Each paragraph of an essay should deal with one aspect that supports your point of view. There is no barricade to the thoughts. But every thought should lead the essay to the intended conclusion.
Brevity is the soul of wit is an oft-quoted proverb. Essay writing demands the application of the same concept. It is a fact that there is no fixed length of an essay. But it does not permit the writer to go on writing unlimited. The essayist must have the ability to use a few words for many. In an academic environment, observe the requirements of the topic, the time allotted, and the number of words prescribed.
Correctness has two aspects. Firstly, the writer should avoid false statements and misleading arguments. The writer should not twist facts to reach a conclusion that is unconvincing or unacceptable. An essay containing these elements will leave a bad impression. From the examination perspective, it will lead to a heavy deduction of marks. Secondly, the essay should be correct grammatically. However clear in your thoughts you may be, it is useless if you cannot put forward your ideas properly. With grammatical flaws in your writing, you cannot convey what you want to.
The choice of words should be apt. For instance, in an expository essay, you cannot use too many imaginative words. It will lead to a misperception of the essay. Avoid flowery phrases and words with ambiguous meanings. Also, the remarks should be sharp and crispy but not sarcastic.
7: Quotes and References
Essay writing is all about the author’s personal opinion. Sometimes, however, the writer cannot neglect the impact of ideas gathered by reading the works of other writers. He finds his opinions voiced in the words of another writer and feels it necessary to quote him. It is not a literary taboo to quote other writers to strengthen your argument. Nevertheless, do not stuff your essay with such quotes. Use them only where they are inevitable. Furthermore, never forget to cite a proper reference to the author, work, and publication.
An essay indeed initiates a debate. But this debate should have a comprehensible, acceptable, and relatable conclusion. If an essay lacks conclusiveness, it lacks attraction.
Structure of an Essay
It has already been mentioned that the success of an essay depends on a proper beginning, middle, and end. This prompts a question about the structure of an essay. Generally, an essay comprises three parts:
This is the most trusted and extensively practised structure of an essay. It allows the author to organize his thoughts and navigate the flow of argument in the right direction. Observing this structure will make essay writing easy for you.
You must have come across the saying that the first impression is the last impression. In essay writing, the introduction holds extraordinary significance as it casts the first impression. It is here that the author introduces the reader to the subject of the essay. He introduces his thesis statement in the introduction. Also, he presents a brief sketch of the key points he intends to include in his essay. A good introduction helps in retaining the attention of the writer. Therefore, it should not be so lengthy as to create boredom. At the same time, do not compromise its comprehensiveness. The focus should remain on the thesis statement.
Read the following sample introduction on the topic, An Excursion. Every sentence of the introduction relates to the importance of excursion.
“Every human being has a right to moments of joy and pleasure in life, and an excursion is a means to these. Its importance in life is matchless. We are living in an era of financial competition. Our monetary pursuits have deprived us of spiritual peace and calm. Owing to a tight professional routine, we cannot spare time even for our family. There is no leisure in life. We continue to indulge in unnecessary worries. An excursion can relieve us of this nerve-breaking cycle of the modern age. It helps us get rid of this vicious circle of materialistic approach, though for a short period.”
The body of an essay contains information, argument, and justification of the idea. All these elements are organized in a logical framework. It remains the lengthiest part of an essay. In this part of the essay, the writer shares his knowledge about the topic. The information he provides should be true and in keeping with the thesis statement. He then proceeds with the arguments that support his point of view. His argument should justify his stance on the topic. A paragraph of the essay should support only one argument. For a new argument, start a new paragraph.
Read the following piece of a sample body which is a continuation of the introduction given above. It is the first passage of the body. Read and observe how the author moves toward his topic.
“I had been living a tightly-engaged professional life for a few months. The organization I work for relied very much on my performance. The feeling of being inevitable pleased me very much and I invested all my energies to prove myself. To uplift my organization and earn huge profits for it became my sole ambition. My zeal augmented when my peers appreciated my dedication. I had developed a mechanical routine. No doubt, I earned a good reputation and certain monetary benefits. But a sense of anxiety began to haunt me. At this time, I reassessed my conduct. I had cut myself off from every joy of life. There were no leisurely chats with my family. I had not shared even a smile with my wife during this period. It moved me to take a break from professional liabilities and reinvigorate my familial relations by taking my family on an excursion.”
Writing a conclusion is very important in essay writing. In this part of the essay, the writer rewrites key points briefly and presents a logical endpoint of the essay. The conclusion must not be very lengthy. It should develop a realization and enlightenment in the reader.
Read the sample conclusion of the same essay below. Observe how the writer sums up all that he has mentioned earlier. Also, observe how he intends to inspire others to do the same.
“This excursion gave me what I had been missing unconsciously. I was able to detach myself from the worries and cares of professional life. It broke the monotony of working from dawn to midnight. Above all, I felt spiritual peace and calm to see my family happy. I realized how much they missed me and how much I needed them for actual happiness. If you have a similarity with the circumstances I have been through, plan an excursion immediately.”
Summing Up Structure
The discussion above reflects how important structure is in essay writing. If you do not observe a logically organized and coherent structure, the essay will fail to register its meaning and message. Therefore, you should ensure extraordinary care while planning your essay.
Some Prerequisites for Essay Writing
Before you embark on writing an essay, you must consider the following prerequisites.
- Thesis Statement
- Collection of Material
- Selection of Material
Keep one simple fact in mind: the more you read, the better you write. Reading introduces you to a variety of ideas, opinions, and facts. It also introduces you to diverse writing styles. Therefore, make a habit of reading something daily. Particularly, when you are supposed to write an essay, read articles, essays, and reports on the subject of the essay. It will prove beneficial for the content and presentation of your essay.
Your observation is going to help you a lot in your essay writing. It is a fact that knowledge comes from books, but experience comes with observation. Before you start writing your essay, use your senses to observe the validity and application of what you have read. It will enable you to add your tinge to the topic of the essay.
Your conversation with the people around you also adds to your knowledge and information. Talk to the people about the topics you intend to write on. Listen to them carefully for the sake of clarification of your concepts. It will help you keep close to the public opinion in the essay.
4: Thesis Statement
The whole essay revolves around the thesis statement. It is the focal point of the essay. Never be hasty in developing a thesis statement. Organize your thoughts in the form of a key-points map. Analyze the progress of the debate. Now formulate your thesis statement. You will feel essay writing is fun this way. Make sure that your thesis statement covers the aspects you intend to highlight and comment upon.
5: Collection of Material
It is emphasized again and again that an essay is a common man’s response to an idea, even, or circumstance. But it never means that a person can write anything without substantial evidence, documentary support, or a relevant argument. In essay writing, credibility stands supreme. For this purpose, you have to collect data or material that reinforces your point of view. Collect data and material from credible and citeable sources only. It will augment the worth of your essay.
6: Selection of Material
After the collection of the material comes the selection of the material. You may have the desire to mention in your essay every single part of the material you have collected. It would seem justified. You have worked hard for it. But as an essay writing strategy, it is unjustified. Keep the material that best suits your thesis statement and supports your argument. Let the rest wait for another opportunity you may find to write on a similar topic.
Convert your key-points map into a proper outline. It will offer you a chance to review the direction of your discussion in the essay. The outline must serve as a compass. Resort to it whenever you feel you are deviating from the main agenda of the essay. For effective essay writing, there has to be a rhythmic flow, and a well-constructed outline ensures it.
Hello Students! I am addressing you.
You must be thinking that the latter part of this article on essay writing relates more to research writing. That’s true. But remember that essay writing involves many skills, and research is one of them. Also, we are learning how to write an essay, not how to memorize an essay written by someone else.
The Last Word
Do not take essay writing for granted. Remember that an essay is not a list of MCQs. You may pass your examinations by cramming, but you will never develop the ability to write what you think. Therefore, instead of cramming essays on important topics, near the examination, write essays on various topics during the session. This practice will prove valuable all through your life.
5 thoughts on “Essay Writing – A Comprehensive Guideline”
Very Informative and knowledgeable.
Great Artical sirr
Thank you very much for your encouraging remarks.
Nice work! 👍👍