Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tips for Writing Opinion Essays


Like a hamburger, an essay has several layers. Divide the essay into sections and develop each section separately over time.
    The Introductory Paragraph
    • The opening paragraph not only introduces the topic, but shows where you are going with it (the thesis). If you do a good job in the opening, you will draw your reader in. Just like in everything else, first impressions are key to winning someone over

    • Write in the active voice rather than passive voice because it will make your essay much more powerful. Also, unless you are writing a personal narrative, avoid using the pronoun "I."

    • Write more than one thesis. Even if you think your first idea is brilliant, try to come up with at least 2 more theses. You may surprise yourself with an even better idea.

    • Vary your sentence structure and vocabulary. Try to avoid the same sentence pattern--especially SVO--and review your writing to make sure you're not using the same expressions over and over. This is something that you will carry through the whole essay.

    • Plan your essay before you start. Make sure you are using the best supporting ideas and have a reason for putting them in the order you will use. An unplanned essay will always present an ineffective argument.
    Supporting Paragraphs
    • Each paragraph is like a mini-essay in of itself. Make sure each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that is obviously connected to your thesis, supporting details that are clearly related to the topic sentence, and a poweful final statement that closes the argument.

    • Use transitions to show the relationship of each paragraph to the one that came before it. Each paragraph has to flow, one to the next. It's not enough to just have a plan, but you must tell the readers what your plan is throughout the essay. The transition can be included in the topic sentence.

    • Use specific support. The best arguments are the ones that the readers not only can understand, but can see. Answer Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? for each supporting detail.
    The Concluding Paragraph
    • Many essay writers torpedo a good argument with a weak concluding paragraph. This is the second most important paragraph after the introduction because it will create the impression the reader will take away from the essay. Write the conclusion carefully.

    • Restate the thesis with originality. Do not simply copy it.

    • Summarize your argument with authority. The reader should have no doubt about your position or conclusion of logic.

    • Leave the reader with a powerful thought-provoking last thought. You want the reader to finish the essay thinking, "That was good!"

    Edit and Revise

    • Review individual sentences for spelling, grammar, and consistency. Use the spelling and grammar check in your word processing program. Avoid repetition of sentence structures and phrases.

    • Reanalyse your argument. Make sure the ideas flow logically and there are no gaps or repetitions.

    • Ask a knowledgeable friend to review and comment on your essay, and to repeat back what the essay says. You may be surprised.

    7 comments:

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