How to write a better essay

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Westside, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. Westside

    Westside Sogdiana

    Dec 18, 2004
    Guantanamo bay
    First of all, as many of you noticed, I have bad grammar and am bad with punctuations. I've completed academic (University) level grade 12 English in Ontario with an 81. However, I know I still need help for further achievements in University. I was wondering, does anyone know a good essay writing study guide of some sort? (For adults and what not.)
  2. bullet007

    bullet007 GBAtemp Regular

    May 22, 2006
    Although I am only in 12th grade (senior in High School), the best thing I have found is that using the thesaurus to substitute common words for not as commonly heard words. Another thing that helps is to use similes and metaphors in you papers.

    Just trying to give you a few tips. =D
  3. jelbo

    jelbo Ōkami!

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lol, I reread that part two times before I read it right. Thought you said smilies [​IMG]
  4. Icarus

    Icarus fire walk with me

    Feb 3, 2006
    United States
    Big Appleu
  5. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United States
    I have marked the odd essay and written many more.

    Tips grammar and punctuation as you point out are vital. If you feel like you may have made a mistake redo the sentence to say it another way that does not need the punctuation. Of course there is no substitute for actually knowing it:
    Grammar is also a tough one in English owing to the amount of irregular verbs and such. Learning is about the only way but owing to the habit of the UK and US to add or be invaded and gain new words to the language there are invariably several ways to say the same thing.

    Have a plan, this prevents waffling which is usually fairly fatal to any otherwise good essay. It will kill 10 minutes easily at the start of a timed essay but it prevents you stopping every 10 minutes to think.

    The thesaurus, a double edged sword as it can make your writing seem obtuse and archaic. Of course being a walking thesaurus can have advantages:
    do not know how to spell aerial, call it an antenna.
    Monetary concerns: pecuniary concerns etc.
    The other use of one is to prevent repetition:
    I woke up and I had a piece of toast and I met my friends and we went to the shop and we got some sweets and we went to the park:
    When I woke up I had a piece of toast. Shortly thereafter my friends and I met before heading to the shop to get some sweets for the trip to the park.

    Target your writing: an engineering essay/report varies greatly from a book report on 16th romance novels which in turn is nothing like a law essay.
  6. ChowMein

    ChowMein GBAtemp Regular

    Nov 14, 2006
    I heartedly disagree with bullet007's perception that you should use similes and metaphors in your papers, save for a few exceptional cases. What you are writing is an essay, not a children's story littered with pointless comparisons such as "the bird was like an angel who descended from the heavens" or "his knowledge was abundant, an encyclopedia containing even the rarest of information."

    Frankly, University English WILL kick your ass unless you put in a boatload more work than in High School. For example, I handed in an essay for an English Major introductory course that would guarantee me a 90+ in High School, only to walk to away with a 65.

    The key to doing good is two things: First, be as direct as possible. This advice doesn't change regardless of whether the word limit is around 1500 words, or 5000 words. The professor doesn't have time nor the patience, as I painfully found out, to deal with rhetorical questions or non-relevant information. If you find an obscure piece of information that is brilliant and insightful, go ahead and use it, IF AND ONLY IF it's relatable to your thesis - ex/ Dido from Virgil's "The Aeneid" may have been a historical character who couldn't have possibly survived in the same era, but that has absolutely no relevance to how significant a role she played.

    Secondly (and this here is probably the most important point), EDIT. I can't tell you how ridiculously good your classmates will be in an English course, but it's best to assume that they write at an equivalent level of a popular blogger or a minor author. And since your essay will undoubtedly be compared to everyone else's essay, you want and need your essay to be as polished as possible. After you finish editing once or twice, get a friend or go to your university's writing aid center to read over your essay and determine the weak points. Take those weak points (hopefully it's not a key content filler) and get rid of them. Refill it back in, edit once or twice more, and you should hopefully have a paper around 80%.

    Lastly, if you have time, read the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.. This very useful book will smash most, if not all, your bad habits in writing and clarify any common grammatical misconceptions. And over your future writing career in university and beyond, it'll end up as the most worn and overused book in your library. Cherish it as your muse.

    Best of luck.
  7. nintendofreak

    nintendofreak Around. Shoot me a PM.

    Mar 27, 2006
    United States
    Cal Poly Pomona / (323)
    Ill keep it short.

    I HATE sitting down for hours trying to write an essay. Its a waste of time (IMO) cause you probably get distracted and go off doing other things...

    Ive found that if you write your essay in short segments, it will become much easier. Just think about it and when you come up with a new idea or a way to say something that sounds intelligent, write it down! After doing enough of this, you'll have yourself an essay

    works for me!

  8. Little

    Little I r Little

    Nov 20, 2006
    I found the transition to the university style of essay writing quite hard... especially since I hadn't taken English since 16 and none of my a levels contained anything beyond a short business essay. I practised lots though and spent a lot of time going over coursework pieces and getting other people to comment to. That helped me develop a more mature writing style (clearly not demonstrated on forums!) which was invaluable in exam situations!

    I agree with everything, except possibly the thesaurus stuff... you need to make sure the words are in context and relevant. If you don't know the word yourself, how can you be sure that it's completely in context... and if you already know the word why do you need the thesaurus! =p

    One thing I've learnt to do is ask "So what?" or "What's the point?". If there is no point to that piece of text, what is it doing in there in the first place? And if there is a point, is it clearly explained/illustrated and placed into context?

    Another thing is learning how to use your word processor properly! Word processors have great built in tools that can be so valuable when writing long pieces. In the terms of office 2007....Comments are great for you to leave little notes to yourself reminding you where you were going. The built in referencing/bibliography creator is a life saver if you are quoting people. If its more of a report style essay, the auto-updated contents pages are a wonderful time saver and help you keep consistent in the presentation of the report because they work through formatting.
  9. deathfisaro

    deathfisaro Narcistic Deathfisaro Fan

    Mar 16, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    Perhaps take a non-credit writing course at the University, if you have time and can spare like $450 =/

    Because those courses will prepare you for generally any Canadian University's essay style and stuff.