Successful Techniques for Writing an Essay


The writing process starts when you open your class text and begin reading and concludes when you submit your final copy. Pre-writing, drafting, and revision are standard divisions of the process (which includes editing). However, the writing process is far more recursive and complex than the parts show. For example, despite its name, pre-writing involves reading; revision (revising your thoughts) occurs throughout the writing process, and so on. It’s critical to comprehend your writing procedure. The shortcomings in an essay are frequently created by issues with the writer’s writing process: most writers rush through the drafting stage and do not revise their work, instead opting for minor editing adjustments as a substitute for revision.


Words or phrases that denote crucial concepts are referred to as key terms. A key phrase can be used to name essential topics to some extent. Every discourse community has its own set of key terms, and every essay has its own set of key terms. Key terms in an essay act like main characters in a story, and unlike a story, a writer should not change a character’s name without explicitly describing the change. Key terms are also the structure of an essay’s argument; without them, the essay will be illegible. It’s critical to clarify your essential terms in all situations because their meanings aren’t always evident.


Freewriting, journal writing, note-keeping, brainstorming, plans, web creation, in-class writing, “reaction” pieces, summaries, and other forms of exploratory writing are all examples of experimental writing. The best exploratory essay forces the writer to revisit and reconsider the original content. Exploration is, of course, the purpose of an exploratory essay, and the best exploratory writing refuses to cut off any avenue of research.


A topic informs the reader about the subject of an essay. In the title and first paragraph, a topic must be stated. Students frequently confuse a thesis with a topic.

TIP: Before putting “pen to paper,” successful writers choose a topic early and think about it thoroughly.


The central and governing notion is the thesis, which is both arguable and particular. [It’s worth noting that your thesis can be more than one phrase long.] The term “arguable” refers to the ability to discuss and argue an issue. Ask yourself if more than half of the class would disagree with your thesis to see if it is debatable. If you answered yes, your notion is debatable. If your thesis is text particular, it means it is written in a specific way. To put it another way, if your thesis can be applied to a variety of literature, your fundamental notion isn’t distinct enough. A thesis frequently explains how the evidence works or why it is interesting to the reader. A thesis is stated in the first or last paragraphs of a paper. In other writings, such as a personal essay, the thesis is inferred through anecdotes, pictures, or metaphors.

You won’t know what your thesis is most of the time until you’ve written a few versions, and even then, it could change.

A working thesis is a thesis that is in the process of being written. A thesis can also be referred to as a conclusion, hypothesis, claim, major idea, or promise.

Your thesis statement is the most important part of your paper.


Your argument is made up of the ideas that arise from and follow your thesis, as well as the evidence that supports or “talks” to these ideas. Premises or points are other terms for these supporting ideas and proof. The argument of your essay is found in the body of the paper. An essay’s body does not just exhibit or demonstrate proof of a thesis; rather, it dissects and/or expands on a thesis. Furthermore, the essay’s body connects these themes. The argument format (or goals) varies depending on the type of essay requested (see description of Kinds of Essays below). Make sure you know if you need to make an inductive or deductive argument, for example, deductive arguments prove, whereas inductive arguments persuade. The argument develops (moves, progresses) in all writings, and the conclusion does not just restate the thesis. Given the argument, the final paragraph must provide something new to the reader due to the thesis’s breakdown and enlargement. The links created between ideas and their evidence, on the other hand, are the key to creating arguments. Many writers list concepts and their supporting facts rather than connecting them. The sequence of the concepts or premises in such compositions has no logical link. If you’re trying to prove or persuade someone, this is an issue. In most situations, you should avoid writing a five-paragraph essay, which consists of an introductory paragraph presenting a thesis, three paragraphs supporting the thesis, and a conclusion that restates the thesis. This is a one-sentence essay that is far too simplistic. Arguments at the college level usually contain multiple ideas.

Your claim, which establishes your thesis, is your argument. It would help if you attempted to avoid ambiguity and claims that are trivial, unimportant, or exaggerated.


Evidence is used in every argument. The thesis determines the type of evidence required (statistical data, graphs, empirical data, paraphrased textual evidence, quotations, analogies, anecdotes, etc.).

Still, all evidence requires an introduction, summary, and interpretation.

Source notes must be included with every proof! Furthermore, all proof must be integrated into your narrative, and it must be grammatically correct. You must introduce problematic evidence in all writings. Evidence informs your essay’s ideas, not the other way around, and your argument will evolve as new evidence is discovered and comprehended. An article that lacks substantial evidence becomes an opinion piece rather than a well-structured argument. When you introduce your evidence, you must build two links: one in and to your evidence, and another out and back to your argument when you interpret the quotation. Evidence is far more effective when woven into your essay than “plopped” in without the correct connections.

TIP: Make sure your facts or data back up your claims, so it doesn’t appear as if you’re making wild claims. Don’t just make claims without presenting evidence to back them up: if you give the data that lead you to your conclusion, your reader will be less likely to discount your interpretation. To support, refine, or extend your argument, use evidence.


In most essays, the thesis and arguments must be pushed to their conclusion (s). This entails asking “so what?” or thinking about what’s at stake, or what’s lost or gained in light of the thesis and argument.

Types of Essays

A SUMMARY describes the content of a text (not what the plot is, but what the argument is). A summary’s thesis answers a what inquiry, and the body exhibits or shows the thesis. Although a summary is a type of essay, the essays mentioned below include a summary.

A CRITIQUE describes what a text is about (summary) and how it operates. A critique’s thesis responds to both a what and a how query, and the body of the critique demonstrates the what before analyzing the how. The purpose of the critique is to examine the text’s integrity: how does it work? Is the text coherent? Is the conclusion logically derived from the claims? Does everything add up? A critique, like a summary, is a type of essay, however, the writings mentioned below include a critique.

An INTERPRETIVE ESSAY interprets a text or text. This paper not only discusses what a text is about (summary) and how it operates (critique), but it also questions why the analysis is so compelling.

The body of an interpretive essay weaves together the demonstration of the what and the analysis of the how, with the thesis answering a what and how inquiry.

Many interpretive essays ask students to “close read” or analyze specific language in a text; others, on the other hand, may ask them to apply a theoretical, historical, or cultural theory to the text. Then interpret it according to the theory or theories.

The purpose of the interpretive essay, on the other hand, is to go beyond analysis (the how question) and into interpretation (the why question). An interpretive essay, like a summary or a critique, emphasizes ramifications and addresses the “so what?” issue. So what if the text behaves in this manner? What’s on the line? What can be gained or lost as a result of the interpretation? An interpretive essay, like a summary and critique, is a type of essay, however, the final two essays listed below involve interpretation.

An INVENTIVE ESSAY does not just summarize, critique, or interpret one or two texts; rather, it reacts to a problem and needs the writer to have already summarized, analyzed, and interpreted several texts. To “create” their own argument, a creative essay needs that the writer understands most of the research on their topic — in other words, that s/he has entered the “discourse community.” Before presenting the thesis, the author must place the reader in the conversation: what are the numerous assertions made on this topic, and who makes them? The thesis of a creative argument establishes itself within the dialogue once it is introduced. An imaginative essay’s thesis responds to a what, how, or why question, and the body of the essay weaves the answers to the three questions together. In other words, an inventive essay is a hybrid of a summary, critique, and interpretation essay, with a “innovative” argument thrown in for good measure (a thesis that makes a new claim about a topic or answers a persistent problem). The traditional college research essay falls under the innovative essay category; however, keep in mind that a research essay has a thesis and that evidence should be woven into the essay’s argument rather than listed. You write reports or summaries of several pieces of evidence if you don’t have a thesis and a weaved argument. Muhlenberg College rarely assigns this essay.

A PERSONAL ESSAY is a hybrid of an interpretative and an innovative essay. The writer’s experience, observations, and research (the essay’s core evidence) are interpreted in a personal essay.

A personal essay is not a story; it contains an argument, even if it employs fiction writing techniques. This argument, on the other hand, is frequently overlooked since the evidence suggests it. Writers must first “present” evidence of their thoughts before they may declare them. Ideas must also have a tone or passion attached to them. To make matters more complicated, a personal essay does not have to specify a thesis; rather, it may infer one. Other types of research (library, interviews, etc.) are frequently required. Because it is delicate and appears to be a story, the personal essay is tough to write properly. Always keep in mind that ideas, not plot, determine how an essay is organized (what happened). Personal essays come in a variety of forms, including memoirs, trip essays, and profiles.