A student asked me the other day how to start off an essay. I responded with my usual summary of what goes into an introduction paragraph.
She stopped me halfway through and said, “No, not that. How do I start MY essay?”.
After some prodding, I came to realize that this student believed that every essay is different and requires a different formula for its construction.
Believe it or not, this is pretty common. Writers oftentimes feel like every piece of writing is so extraordinarily different as to require a different structure, different tone, and different everything.
Sure, there are some different elements to different essays. For example, using the same tone in a persuasive essay as an expository essay is going to throw off the reader and miss the paper’s point. Now the reader stops learning about the topic and is being convinced to make a decision about it.
Every essay prompt is different, and there are different styles of writing. Absolutely true.
What is also true is that the basic essay format works. It has worked for decades, and it still works. There is wiggle room and space for creativity too, but it does still work.
OK, so what is the basic organization for an essay?
Introduction: Hook your reader’s attention, state the thesis in a strong manner, and give broad, general support which will be explained later in the paper.
Body: Get into the details. Expound upon the details which support the thesis statement: research, quotations, facts, figures, statistics, and your unique analysis that presents your thesis statement as well documented.
Conclusion: Wrap it up with academic professionalism. Give your reader the summary of what is really important here; this is your last chance to make a great case.
Make life easy on yourself and use what works–introduction, body, and conclusion.
Take a look over these videos for a more in-depth look at how the structure looks.
Related Blog Posts
About the Site