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The Craft of Essay Writing. Think about essay writing as a craft. Don't expect to be good at it straight away. Break things down into tasks. Stages in writing an essay:. thinking about the title gathering material getting some ideas on paper organising ideas and material (plan)

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The Craft of Essay Writing

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the craft of essay writing
The Craft of Essay Writing
  • Think about essay writing as a craft.
  • Don't expect to be good at it straight away.
  • Break things down into tasks.
stages in writing an essay
Stages in writing an essay:
  • thinking about the title
  • gathering material
  • getting some ideas on paper
  • organising ideas and material (plan)
  • writing a first draft
  • reviewing the first draft (NB the title)
  • writing a final draft
read around the subject
Read around the subject
  • Break the wording of the title down into phrases and even singe words
  • study the title
  • sleep on it
  • make sure you fully understand it and get to grips with it before you move on.
gathering material
gathering material
  • Look at course materials, notes and reading lists.
  • Research where appropriate.
getting ideas on paper
getting ideas on paper
  • Brainstorm in groups, making individual notes, to get started?
  • Put notes to one side and write your thoughts... questions, cases for and against an argument. Don't be organised at this stage - just cover some paper with ideas.
  • NB The quality of the final essay is often directly linked to the richness and range of these initial, informal jottings (GASG). If you find it hard to find enough to write about in essays, put more effort into this phase.
organising ideas and materials
organising ideas and materials
  • Begin by thinking in terms of an overview of the essay. Simple is best.
  • Remember you are creating an argument.
  • This is the phase in which it is best to decide what to leave out in order to stay within the word limit.
writing a first draft
writing a first draft
  • This is where you must explain and link your ideas together into a coherent, logical argument.
  • Be experimental at this stage.
  • At this stage of the course you are trying to find your 'voice'. Practice would help here. Try writing for ten minutes every day, on any subject at all, quickly and without constraint. Then put it away and read over it later in the week, looking for places you feel that your 'voice' breaks through.
reviewing the first draft
reviewing the first draft
  • Print out your draft when it is complete - it's easier to see faults on paper.
  • Leave it until the following day (or later) to review... this helps with objectivity.
  • Read it out loud (ideally to someone, even if they make no comment whatsoever):
reviewing the first draft1
reviewing the first draft
  • Do the sentences work?
  • Are the paragraph divisions appropriate and effective?
  • Have you given enough explanation for your reader?
  • Does the argument work? Have you signalled the main flow of your argument to the reader?
  • Have you answered the question in the title?
writing a final draft
writing a final draft
  • Do print off a final draft and sleep on it. There are often trivial errors remaining after a major review.
  • The phases of essay writing need not be rigid, especially in the early stages. You may prefer to treat gathering ideas, organising ideas, and getting ideas on paper as a single phase. Or you may simply move back and for between the phases.
  • Importance of link words & phrases... Even if, although, either... or, but however.
  • Exercise: have a look at a magazine article from SoS or similar and underline the link words. Notice how the writer forms his argument.
  • Vary sentence and paragraph lengths to make points stand out.
  • Be imaginative.
making a case
Making a case
  • Use references.
  • Quoting (NB square brackets and ellipsis); be precise.
  • Use illustration.
  • Use logic and reason.
the experience of writing
The experience of writing
  • Revealing yourself - all the available examples are written by professionals.
  • Take advantage of criticism.
  • It's a poorly defined task.
  • The uncertain relationship with your tutor.
  • Being too close to see.
use of the wordprocessor
Use of the wordprocessor
  • using word in layout mode
  • inserting notes into text
  • NB Follow the Style Guide
the conclusion
The Conclusion
  • Useful exercise: prepare a word template with an imaginary title, one reference and one bibliography entry.