For most of us, ‘essay writing’ is an uphill task. But, once we learn the art of writing an effective essay, essay writing becomes an enjoyable activity. This write-up elaborates upon the essentials of writing an English essay. For an essay to be effective, the writer must meet some preconditions. Firstly, he must know the structure of an essay i.e. what an introductory paragraph is and how to write it, what should be written in the body of the essay, and lastly how the essay should be concluded. Along with these prerequisites, another mandatory condition is that the writer must understand the topic of the essay fully, i.e. what actually the topic demands from us. In short, there should be a complete understanding of the topic. If you are meeting these prerequisites, congratulations then, you are good to go.
The word ‘essay’ means ‘a short piece of writing on a particular subject’. It also means ‘an attempt or effort’. Thus, essay writing is an attempt undertaken mostly on the spur of the moment. That means, the given topic for essay writing mostly in exams is usually unpredicted and one has to write the essay by recollecting all the prior knowledge he has related to the topic with the help of ‘brainstorming’. If you do not know what brainstorming is; it is an activity in which we jot down all the ideas that cross our minds while we are thinking about the given essay topic. Let’s take an example. Suppose we are asked to write an essay on ‘women empowerment’. For the sake of ideas, we will take a rough sheet, and will write whatever comes to mind about the topic.
After the collection of rough ideas, we have to cross out all the irrelevant ideas. The remaining relevant ideas will then be arranged in a hierarchical order that would make your essay body to flow in a natural way. For example, if we have three ideas on the causes of the poor conditions of women; i.e. ‘poverty’, ‘illiteracy’, and ‘unemployment’, these ideas would preferably be arranged as illiteracy, unemployment, and poverty. Because, illiteracy comes first in order, and due to illiteracy, there is unemployment. Similarly, due to unemployment, there is poverty. Hence, these will make our whole essay to flow naturally and smoothly with well-arranged ideas.
Let’s first discuss how to write an essay introduction…
Writing an introduction for an essay becomes fun when you know the essentials for an impressive introduction.
As the name indicates, the introductory paragraph (the first paragraph of an essay) introduces the topic to the reader by opening it up. In the paragraph, we elaborate on what we have understood of the topic and what is our take on it. There is no fixed rule for writing an introductory paragraph of an essay. But, we must make sure that the introduction is compelling and engaging. The paragraph should be able to hook the reader’s attention. This is exactly what I did in the opening line of the introduction of this article. The sentence, ‘essay writing becomes an enjoyable activity once you learn the art of writing it’; hooked your attention because you wanted to continue reading the rest of the article just to make essay writing an enjoyable activity for you. On the same lines, your essay should start with the opening that would engage the reader.
You can start your essay by posing a direct question, by narrating an anecdote, by sharing some facts, or simply with a general opening. Start an essay the way you like. Within the introductory paragraph of the essay, you have to mention the ‘thesis statement’, also called the ‘statement of the topic’. The thesis statement defines the dimensions of your essay. In other words, it helps the reader in understanding the ambit or scope of your essay. For example, we write the thesis statement on ‘women empowerment’ as ‘Women empowerment remained a pipedream in Pakistan due to the multifarious reasons like patriarchy, religious misinterpretations, lack of political will, etc. However, this dream can be materialized by taking certain pragmatic steps’. The reader will quickly understand that you are going to discuss the factors behind the issue and the suggestions to improve the situation. An impressive thesis statement does not exceed two lines.
Body of the Essay
After the introduction, comes the body of the essay. The body contains various paragraphs. Now, we will discuss all the collected material or ideas in the body paragraphs one by one. For instance, on the factors behind the poor situation of women, we will write on illiteracy in one paragraph, unemployment in the next, and poverty afterward. The whole paragraph should discuss one aspect only.
For example, we start our paragraph like, ‘Illiteracy is one of the most prominent factors that hampered women from being empowered.’ Now, the rest of the paragraph should be supportive of your claim. Like, according to the XYZ report, 53 percent of women in Pakistan are illiterate. Therefore, a significant amount of women are totally unaware of their rights. Being illiterate, these women are even unable to make their own decisions for their life. This makes them wholly dependent on the male members of the family. This further strengthens patriarchy, etc. So, we write all the paragraphs on similar lines.
Thus, the whole paragraph should be supportive of the claim made in the opening line of the paragraph. You can use quotations or reports to support your arguments. After writing all the well-connected paragraphs of the body, we will switch to the conclusion.
Lastly, we will discuss how to write a conclusion for an essay…
We usually start the conclusion paragraph with phrases like, ‘to conclude, in conclusion, in a nutshell’ etc. In the conclusion paragraph, we wrap up all the discussions with an optimistic ending. For example, we would write, ‘a number of social, economic, and political factors are, thus, obstructing the women from empowerment. This requires serious efforts at socio-political and economic levels in order to help women coming out of the shackles of social and economic constraints. Once empowered, women will be able to play their role in uplifting the country. Hence, Pakistan would be able to stand among the comity of the most developed nations of the world’.