Essay Writing Process

Your essay will lead your reader through your organized thoughts on a single topic. Before you begin writing your essay, it's a good idea to understand the nuts and bolts of essay writing. Learn about the different steps of essay writing and how to both outline and format your essay. Knowing the basics makes the essay writing process easier.

Brainstorming Your Essay
Whether the topic is your choice or it is assigned, a good way to begin the essay writing process is to brainstorm.

An easy way to start brainstorming is to use a list or a tree (example below). Another popular brainstorming technique is to radiate your ideas out from the center of a circle. Start with a title. If the topic was assigned, use the topic as your brainstorming title, such as "Essay on Advertising" or "Essay on Logical Thinking". If you need to choose a topic, use the reason you are writing the essay as your brainstorming title, such as "Personal Experience Essay" or "Essay for History".

Brainstorming is creating a list of whatever comes to mind. For instance, a list on "Essay on Advertising" might look like this:

Essay on Advertising
Common definitions/synonyms
- Persuasion
- Getting the word out
- Promoting products/services

Typical related concepts/words
- Marketing companies
- Targeted campaigning
- Target audiences

- Fear associations
- Nonequivalent emotional associations
- Happiness
- Health
- Security
- Love/Companionship
- Popularity
- Success/Wealth
- Status/Fame
- Adventure
- Patriotism
- Bandwagon
- Build of cultural perspective
Used by
- Companies
- Organizations
- Politicians
- Any supplier

- Product placement
- TV ads
- Merchandising
- Word of mouth
- Social networking pages
- YouTube ads
- Sponsorships: Athletic, good cause, community event

- Influencing children
- Negative personal attacks
- Create a society that confuses needs and wants

After you have brainstormed your essay, choose an idea and ask yourself:

  1. How is this idea in line with the subject matter? Advertisers use many psychological tactics to persuade viewers.
  2. Can I create an interesting title and strong thesis/premise from this idea? "Advertising: What You Don't Realize"
  3. Where can I find the evidence I need to support this idea? Internet sites, books about advertisement trends, marketing blogs/forums, watching television commercials, movie trailers.
  4. What type of evidence might support my premise? Marketing critics, awards in best advertisements, advertisement news articles.
  5. What conclusion can I draw from this idea? What techniques audiences should be aware of while viewing advertisements.
  6. Which type of essay would work best with this idea?
    • A description
    • A comparison
    • Cause and effect
    • A narrative
    • Explaining a process
    • An argument
    • A critique

Start writing an essay with an outline, using the different elements of your essay as a template.

The Essay Introduction
The introduction is the first paragraph of your essay and introduces the essay topic to your reader. Although your essay topic serves as your title, it isn't necessary to repeat it in your essay introduction. The essay introduction presents your topic and tells the reader what supporting points follow within the essay body.

For example:
Advertising influences many decisions people make in modern society, yet people rarely stop to consider the affects of its influence. A passive TV viewer is told how to live life from television ads, but a smart consumer holds the power over their own decisions. Advertisers use many tactics that tell audiences that they need more products and services. By understanding advertising techniques, passive viewers can turn into smart consumers and decide for themselves where their hard earned money is spent.

The Essay Body
The body is where you develop the topic that you introduced in your introduction. Start a new paragraph every time you discuss a new point. Make the body "flow" by introducing the next paragraph of your essay at the end of the previous one. When you're satisfied that you have made your points, move on to the essay conclusion.

If you are using outside sources, cite your sources and add them to your works cited page as you use them.

The Essay Conclusion
Although it's often overlooked, the conclusion is an important part of your essay. It's the last paragraph of your essay and your last chance to drive home your point of view as well as an indicator of how well you've organized your thoughts. Generally the conclusion is a summary of your essay body and/or any closing thoughts or ideas.

Once you are sure that your essay "makes your point" and that you have caught and corrected any errors in formatting, spelling, punctuation, and grammar, your "first draft" magically becomes your finished essay.

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