Defining What an Essay Is and How to Write One Properly

Tips for Writing a Descriptive Essay
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Essays are brief, non-fiction compositions that describe, clarify, argue, or analyze a subject. Students might encounter essay assignments in any school subject and at any level of school, from a personal experience "vacation" essay in middle school to a complex analysis of a scientific process in graduate school. Components of an essay include an introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion.

Writing an Introduction

The beginning of an essay can seem daunting. Sometimes, writers can start their essay in the middle or at the end, rather than at the beginning, and work backward. The process depends on each individual and takes practice to figure out what works best for them. Regardless of where students start, it is recommended that the introduction begins with an attention grabber or an example that hooks the reader in within the very first sentence.

The introduction should accomplish a few written sentences that leads the reader into the main point or argument of the essay, also known as a thesis statement. Typically, the thesis statement is the very last sentence of an introduction, but this is not a rule set in stone, despite it wrapping things up nicely. Before moving on from the introduction, readers should have a good idea of what is to follow in the essay, and they should not be confused as to what the essay is about.

Finally, the length of an introduction varies and can be anywhere from one to several paragraphs depending on the size of the essay as a whole.

Creating a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a sentence that states the main idea of the essay. The function of a thesis statement is to help manage the ideas within the essay.

Different from a mere topic, the thesis statement is an argument, option, or judgment that the author of the essay makes about the topic of the essay.

A good thesis statement combines several ideas into just one or two sentences. It also includes the topic of the essay and makes clear what the author's position is in regard to the topic. Typically found at the beginning of a paper, the thesis statement is often placed in the introduction, toward the end of the first paragraph or so.

Developing a thesis statement means deciding on the point of view within the topic, and stating this argument clearly becomes part of the sentence which forms it. Writing a strong thesis statement should summarize the topic and bring clarity to the reader.

For informative essays, an informative thesis should be declared. In an argumentative or narrative essay, a persuasive thesis, or opinion, should be determined. For instance, the difference looks like this:

  • Informative Thesis Example: To create a great essay, the writer must form a solid introduction, thesis statement, body, and conclusion.
  • Persuasive Thesis Example: Essays surrounded around opinions and arguments are so much more fun than informative essays because they are more dynamic, fluid, and teach you a lot about the author.

    Developing Body Paragraphs

    The body paragraphs of an essay include a group of sentences that relate to a specific topic or idea around the main point of the essay. It is important to write and organize two to three full body paragraphs to properly develop it.

    Before writing, authors may choose to outline the two to three main arguments that will support their thesis statement. For each of those main ideas, there will be supporting points to drive them home. Elaborating on the ideas and supporting specific points will develop a full body paragraph. A good paragraph describes the main point, is full of meaning, and has crystal clear sentences that avoid universal statements.

    Ending an Essay With a Conclusion

    A conclusion is an end or finish of an essay. Often, the conclusion includes a judgment or decision that is reached through the reasoning described throughout the essay.

     The conclusion is an opportunity to wrap up the essay by reviewing the main points discussed that drives home the point or argument stated in the thesis statement.

    The conclusion may also include a takeaway for the reader, such as a question or thought to take with them after reading. A good conclusion may also invoke a vivid image, include a quotation, or have a call to action for readers.

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    Fleming, Grace. "Defining What an Essay Is and How to Write One Properly." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-an-essay-p2-1856929. Fleming, Grace. (2017, October 9). Defining What an Essay Is and How to Write One Properly. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-essay-p2-1856929 Fleming, Grace. "Defining What an Essay Is and How to Write One Properly." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-essay-p2-1856929 (accessed December 14, 2017).