How to write an Essay (New Students)

“A paragraph is a number of sentences grouped together and relating to one topic, or a group of related sentences that develop a single point.”

Wren & Martin

An essay is a combination of a few meaningful paragraphs. But in order to write essays, one should not think of a paragraph as a single unit, but some coherent units on a single topic as a larger scheme of the work. Hence there should be coherence not only within the paragraph but also between the paragraphs. If the paragraphs are coherent, the reader will have no trouble in realising the relation between the preceding and the succeeding paragraph. For this purpose, the topic sentence may be used at the beginning of the paragraph or the essay.

In writing an essay the student is required to show that he can think and reason clearly, has imagination and is able to express his thoughts cogently and coherently. When the points are given, the student should develop them systematically, normally devoting a paragraph to each point but, if necessary, joining two or more points in a paragraph. The ideas expressed in a paragraph should lead to those in the next so as to give a central unity to the entire composition. Even if the given points do not mention an introduction or a conclusion, a few introductory and concluding lines should be put in.

What is Good Style and How to Make it?

A clear conception of what one is going to write is the first condition of making a good style. The next point is: The more a sentence communicates ideas with the least possible number of words, the higher its quality from the point of style. One may aim at achieving this style of brevity by rejecting the useless and emphasizing the necessary points or words or phrases. And, therefore, there must be a merciless rejection of superfluous words, high- sounding phrases and roundabout expressions.

Length of an Essay

There is no hard and fast rule in this matter. Sometimes, of course, in examinations students are asked to write an essay within 300 or 500 words. In essay competitions, there may be an instruction to write the essay within 1,000 words. Examinees or competitors should abide by such instruction as far as possible. However, you must break up your essay into the main divisions or paragraphs.

Types of Essay

  1. Descriptive essay – description of someplace, person or thing.
  2. Expository essay – explaining a theory, plan or view.
  3. Reflective essay – expressing the writer’s thoughts or reflections on a topic.

Remember the following points

  1. Write a separate paragraph on each point or a group of connected points in the outline given in the question paper. The secret of clear writing is clear thinking.
  2. The length of a coherent paragraph will depend on the importance of the point to be discussed. If it is important, you should discuss it elaborately; if not, you may finish it in a few sentences.
  3. Do not make the composition too lengthy. Remember that quality—not quantity or volume—should be your guiding principle.
  4. The charm of the composition is the charm of its expressions. Even the usual thing becomes interesting when it is unusually told.
  5. Use simple and lucid words and avoid bombastic words and round-about expressions.
  6. Write clear and correct English and avoid grammatical errors.
  7. Be careful of the spelling of words.
  8. Avoid repetitions, but take care that no significant point is left untouched.
  9. You must maintain the principle of unity and cohesion in writing paragraphs.
  10. Finally, you must revise your composition and correct the mistakes, if any.

Essays are, however, seldom purely of any one kind. Thus through an essay on ‘The cow’ is mainly descriptive, it has to be also reflective to some extent because it must contain reflections on the usefulness of the animal. ‘A Moonlit Night’ may contain the expository of an event. An essay on ‘Your Last Holidays’ may lead to thought on the need for holidays or the best way of spending them. ‘The Duties of a Citizen’ may narrate an event arising out of the conduct of a good or a bad citizen. Thus, an essay, to be a good essay, usually is of a mixed character.

There are also other kinds of essays. For example, there are Imaginative Essays, in which the imagination is more at work than reasoning. ‘The Autobiography of a Rupee’ and ‘A Journey to the Moon’ are examples of this kind.

Again, an essay may be either subjective or objective in character. It is subjective when the writer deals mainly with his personal feelings and experiences. ‘How you spent the Last Holidays’ must necessarily be subjective. An essay on ‘The Cow’, on the other hand, is to be written objectively. Sometimes, however, an essay may combine the two trails. For example, ‘A Moonlit Night’ may be a purely objective description of such a night, or it may be descriptive of the writer’s emotions and experiences in such a night. A subjective treatment usually improves the quality of the essay, because it adds to it a personal and intimate note.

Paragraphs, however, cannot always be grouped so rigidly into such water-tight compartments as Descriptive, Expository and Reflective. In describing a battle-field for example, one may sometimes reproduce reflection as occasions arise just as in writing upon a subject like Mercy or Modesty one may introduce some description. In fact, there is no strict rule for writing essays. The division, though artificial, is made for our convenience.

Sentences are the units of any composition, and Verbs are the main-spring of the sentences. Make a list of the Verbs used in the Paragraphs. It will assist you to write correct English and remember the total Paragraphs.