Why are essay structures so important to essay writing

Why are Essay Structures so important to Essay Writing?

Now many people reading the above heading may look at it and, shaking their head, think – 

‘What a stupid question!’ I know I did too because the answer is surely obvious – isn’t it?

Well, that’s what I thought for many years for the simple reason that I believed (like I am sure that many of you do) that there was no way that you could expect to write ‘good’ essays in practice if you did not also have ‘good’ essay structures in place that showed a clear line from the first thought that you wrote on the screen/page in front of you until the very last thing that you put in your conclusion. And yet, despite this simple reasoning, I never cease to be amazed at the sheer number of essay papers I have seen with little or no effective structuring to them and this is so obviously to their detriment because otherwise good ideas can all too easily be lost within a poor structure. Therefore, when it comes to producing any essay I would advise you to always look to have the following word in mind when writing your essay – ‘PLANNING’.

This is because I would look to consider your essay strutures as being an essential aspect of this aspect of your essay writing and so I would advise you to first ask yourself the following five questions in practice –

(a) What am I being asked to do?

(b) What does this mean to me?

(c) How will this effect my writing style?

(d) What do I already know about what I have been asked to write about?

(e) Where can I find more information?

Then, depending on the nature of the subject that you have been asked to write about you may be required to undertake a great deal of research or the information may already be available to you (i.e. if you are writing about law then you are clearly going to need to refer to court decisions and legislation as well as other people’s views allied to your own, but if you are writing about a play then you may still refer to other people’s views but your own view is likely to become all the more significant for the reader so think about what the reader/assessor requires from you).

As I previously alluded to in my earlier article (‘Why does the Essay Word Count worry students so much?’) should get you thinking about the structure of your work which you can then detail in the first paragraph by way of an abstract (particularly for a dissertation or thesis) or you may refer to it in the way that I do for an essay as the ‘Introduction to the Introduction’ because you are using this to tell the reader about your approach to the subject matter and in what order this will be undertaken in your essay structure. Then the next paragraph that you writie will be your ‘actual’ introduction that serves to present the main issue that is to be discussed and its importance to the particular aspect of the subject area you are studying. From there the rest of your work should be looking to consider matters related to this issue. Then, finally, you should be looking at concluding with a summary of the key points derived from your discussion relating to the overall subject matter that you have been analysing so as to draw the work to a close.

Moreover, I have also found that it is generally a good idea to not write less than seven lines and/or three sentences and NOT much more than 250 words per paragraph so you keep your arguments and analysis as part of your discussion clear and concise without proving too detriment to your essay word count. In addition, I geneally also like to look to work to the following four basic rules with regards to the content of each paragraph –

(a) First, make a point that you consider to be important.

(b) Second, explain why that point is important.

(c) Third, offer any supporting evidence from other people’s work and show why it supports what you are saying.

(d) Fourth, consider whether there is anything that conflicts with what you are saying and then use that to move into your next pargraph so that the flow of your work is enhanced.

Of course these rules may need to be adapted depending on the nature of the work that you have been set, but in principle these are just some of the thoughts that go through my head when thinking about the essay I am writing and the development of effective essay structures.

When thinking of your essay structures, however, I would also advise you to look to first ‘group’ ideas together at the planning stage. For example, if you are writing an essay about the ‘Nazi Party’s hold over Germany’ you may group ideas in the following way –

(a) Economic

(b) Social

(c) Political

(d) Propaganda

At the same time, however, you need to show an appreciation of any ‘crossover’ between areas because. for example, some issues like the ‘Jewish Question’ may relate to all four areas of division used for the ‘grouping’ of ideas. This is because, by way of illustration, it may be economic and social due to the fact that the Nazi Party played on the idea that Jewish people were not German citizens and were taking jobs away from those who were so that they were detracting from Germany’s national economy. Moreover, it was also a polical and propaganda issue because the Nazi Party blamed the Jewish people for a lot of the problems that the country was experiencing as a whole. Therefore, there is a need to think carefully about the way in which you express your ideas in practice since it is also important to make sure that you express your ideas clearly in concise precise sentences that are pointed and clear in what they are saying.

Poor structuring is lazy and if you fail to express yourself in a clear way it will cost you a lot marks, but have really barely scratched the surface of what you need to appreciate when structuring your work here. Therefore, if you would like a great deal more information and support in this regard then you can find it in the form of my own e-journal ‘The Secret Guide To Academic Writing & Study’ that I produced myself and am currently distributing to students like you at a remarkably inexpensive one-off price through my website at www.academicfx.co.uk.

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