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A Guide To Academic Writing: How To Make Your Essays Shine


Pick a Topic You Really Care About

What makes a good essay as compared to an outstanding, shining essay? A shining essay embraces its topic with relish. Do not look at this essay as simply something you have to do—look at it as a showcase of your knowledge and scholarship. Try to pick a topic you both know something about and want to learn something about. This way, the research process, a part of all good academic writing, will be a learning experience you enjoy. Let’s say you have to write an essay on biology and you’re fascinated by dolphin’s and what you have heard hear and there about their fascinating brains and systems of communications—why not find out everything you can about this since you’re already interested in it? Then you will be telling your reader about something you really care about – and this yearning to share something with your reader will really shine through.

Make Sure You Have All The Elements of a Great Paper First

All essays have four basic elements—a fantastic introductory paragraph that really whisks the reader into the writing and makes them want to read more, a thesis statement, body paragraphs that provide evidence for your thesis, and an interesting closing that says something ultimate about your topic that will resonate in the mind and ear of your reader—I will explain in a moment.

Writing Great Intro Paragraphs

Great introductions immediately make your reader want to read more.

For example, if you’re writing about dolphins and their brains, why not begin with a super-interesting title like “Are Dolphins as Smart as People?” Now, maybe they are not—but now your reader is hooked. You could then begin with a really affirmative line like “Dolphin’s brains are sheerly fascinating—in fact, scientists say . . . “ and now you have an introduction truly begun.

Writing Great Thesis Statements

Second, you have to have a thesis statement after the introductory paragraph. In this paper, I will explore the mind of the dolphin, and report my findings on recent explorations by scientists into the minds of dolphins.

Evidence Paragraphs

Simply, the body paragraphs should prove the dolphin’s intelligence. In a five paragraph paper, for example, every paragraph could explore some aspect of dolphin intelligence. For example, you could devote one or two paragraphs to aspects of dolphin communication.

Tack on A great Conclusion

A great trick for writing conclusions is to say something very recent. “This week, scientists reported that dolphins may become extinct by . . . “

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