How to write a great essay

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How to write a great essay

  1. 1. How to write a great essay Croydon, 2 nd July 2011.
  2. 2. What is a good essay?
  3. 3. What makes a good essay? <ul><li>Have you answered the question? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you drawn on the relevant parts of the course for the main content of your essay. </li></ul><ul><li>Do you show a good grasp of the ideas you have been studying in the course? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you presented a coherent argument? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the essay written in an objective, analytical way, with appropriate use of illustration and evidence? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the essay clearly written and presented? </li></ul>
  4. 4. maps
  5. 5. Seven Stages of Essay Writing <ul><li>Taking in the title: Underlining the key words in the essay title and thinking about it for a couple of days. Formulating the overall purpose of the essay. </li></ul><ul><li>Gathering Material: Gathering together notes for the essay from your course materials. Working out what use you can make of the course materials you have been studying. </li></ul><ul><li>Generating Ideas: Getting ideas on to paper; quickly jotting down thoughts, your response to the notes you have been making, your response to the question, additional questions, etc. Capturing you own thoughts on paper. </li></ul><ul><li>Planning: organising your notes into a simple outline plan. Working out what shape to give the argument of the essay. </li></ul><ul><li>First draft: writing a first draft; ‘talking’ your reader through your argument, with explanations, illustrations. Translating your own ‘private’ language into a shared ‘public’ language. </li></ul><ul><li>Reviewing: reading over your work in the light of the essay title and correcting errors and omissions. Quality control. </li></ul><ul><li>Final Draft: Writing a final draft, paying attention to legibility, accuracy and general presentation. Presenting a polished end product. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Getting Started <ul><li>Practice writing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>start writing. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>include everything that you know about a subject. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make observations about the question </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Think about how you feel about the TMA </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>look at your notes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>stop writing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>think about the quality of what you are writing (this isn’t the point) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming/ideas shower </li></ul><ul><li>Mindmapping </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Question <ul><li>How did the Romantic theorists conceive of the imagination, and what did their ideas imply about their view of the nature of art and the artist? (A207) </li></ul><ul><li>In what ways does drama add to our understanding of the history and society of fifth-century BCE Athens? What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this kind of evidence? (A219) </li></ul><ul><li>How has the development of feminist art history affected both the questions we ask about art and the selection of works for study? (A216) </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Plan C E N T R A L I D E A THEME THEME THEME THEME topics topics topics topics topics
  9. 9. The Argument <ul><li>You and your reader should know clearly what you are writing about. </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas and events linked in a sequence </li></ul><ul><li>Clear sense of direction </li></ul><ul><li>Clear beginning and end </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of completion </li></ul>
  10. 10. Introduction <ul><li>Give an overview. </li></ul><ul><li>Present the central idea of the TMA. </li></ul><ul><li>Give reasons for writing the TMA. </li></ul><ul><li>Explain how you will interpret the title. </li></ul><ul><li>Give your reasons for answering the question in a particular way. </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce the questions that the TMA will be addressing. </li></ul><ul><li>Give background to the main topic of the essay; historical/contextual. </li></ul><ul><li>Make a bold statement that the rest of the essay will fill out and justify. </li></ul><ul><li>Quote from somewhere else in order to interest the reader and give them a feel for what the whole essay will be about. </li></ul><ul><li>Present concrete example or story which your essay will explain or elaborate upon. </li></ul><ul><li>Relate the assignment to work in the same field. </li></ul><ul><li>Convey the writers own relationship to the material and assignment. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Conclusion <ul><li>Summarise ‘answers’ to questions the assignment sets out to address, signalled in the introduction. </li></ul><ul><li>Refer back to the question posed in the title and show that it has been answered. </li></ul><ul><li>Give a sense of an ending. </li></ul><ul><li>Point out what the assignment has and has not answered. </li></ul><ul><li>Show that the writer has done what she proposed to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Put forward the writer’s point of view in light of the evidence she has presented. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow the writer to be positive about ideas in the assignment. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Review <ul><li>Does the piece have a central idea? Is this idea apparent or do you have to ‘search’ for it? Is the central idea clear enough for you to restate in a different way? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it raise questions which it doesn’t answer? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it convey a sense of an argument developing? </li></ul><ul><li>  Do points, both within and beyond paragraphs, seem to follow logically? Does the whole piece hang together? </li></ul><ul><li>  Why is a particular piece of information in the essay? What work is it doing for expressing the ideas of the assignment? </li></ul><ul><li>  Can you understand what is writer? If not can you see why? Does the writer’s use of subject terminology seem clear and confident? </li></ul><ul><li>  Does the introduction seem helpful as a signpost for the whole piece? </li></ul><ul><li>  Does it have a satisfying ending? </li></ul><ul><li>  Does the ending in particular and the piece as a whole answer the question set? How do you know? Has the writer referred to the question clearly and explicitly? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Key Questions? <ul><li>  Does this example work? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this idea clear? </li></ul><ul><li>It there too much/not enough evidence? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it too personal? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the English OK? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Jennie Osborn [email_address] <ul><li>www.open.ac.uk </li></ul>

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