Blasphemous Tips For Improving Your Essay Writing

No matter your major, you’re going to have to write a few essays. Even if you know calculus is your one true love, there’s still general education credits that have to be taken.

Besides, being able to persuasively argue your point is a skill that remains relevant for the rest of your life. Now what I’m about to reveal would probably put most high school teachers into a frenzy, but these unorthodox tips will make you rethink the traditional methods

Break Free from the Three

Throughout high school, teachers emphasize the three body paragraph structure for essay writing. Well, it’s time to experiment a little…this is college after all! While I have nothing against the three body paragraph format (notice that this article contains the body paragraph trinity), there’s many times where you will need to adjust because you just can’t cram all your ideas into three neat sections.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to essay writing. Sticking to three body paragraphs can create bloated walls of text that span for pages. Not only do these word blocks detract from your essay’s visual appeal, they also make organization impossible! Allow yourself to indulge in four or five more tightly focused body paragraphs and you’ll find that breaking the rules isn’t so bad after all.

Don’t Start with a Thesis

The best advice I’ve been given during the past year was to not worry about my thesis during the first phases of essay writing. While it may be engrained in most students’ heads to not start until they have that perfect argument laid out, this can really slow you down. If you’re having trouble coming up with a thesis, skip it!

Instead, try reading through the text or texts you have been assigned and start putting together a list of quotes that you can organize under broad themes. Next, examine how these themes relate to the essay, and begin mapping out how you would structure body paragraphs while eliminating quotes that don’t fit your structure. All of the sudden you just laid out plan for writing your essay and the thesis will just pop out at you. Skipping the thesis initially will allow you to dive into a paper, even when you feel unsure about what to write.

Avoid the Repetitive Conclusion

While there’s no way around restating a few key points, keep it brief. Yes, you need to restate your thesis, but challenge yourself to sum up the main paragraph points in a single sentence if you can. Remember, the professor has already just read these points and doesn’t need to be reminded of all the details.

The conclusion is the last bite, so make it savory! Conclude with a new idea that draws from your main body paragraphs, but moves them forward. Make a statement that’s provocative. Say something that you believe will truly cause a stir and your paper will stand out among the stacks of needlessly repetitive essays.

I’ll be the first to admit that the traditional essay writing formula definitely works, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only method out there. When you find yourself stuck, try out any one of these strategies and I’m sure you’ll be surprised with the results!

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Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals is a senior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing and Psychology. Outside of class, Ryan can be found working in the Pysch Lab or at a local health clinic. When he's not distracted by cat videos, he tries to balance his time between playing guitar, writing prose, and running around the soccer field.