Laying the foundation of an essay on a stipulated topic then proceeding further on it, developing it and, finally, leading it to an appropriate finishing without crossing the limits of time and words has always been a difficult task for students of all levels.
But interviewing some university students and aspirants for competitive examination revealed the alarming fact that most students did not even know the basic concept behind and nature of an essay.
Generally speaking, an essay is a collection of paragraphs that spin around one main idea or thought with some supporting points, examples and explanations required or asked for by the paper setter and examiner. It comprises three portions: introductory paragraph(s) for defining the term, person, place, thing or system you are going to write the essay on; supporting paragraphs that further explain and add detail to your topic, and concluding paragraph(s) that summarise the topic, lay stress on the pivotal point and wind up the piece in a very appropriate manner while mentally preparing the reader to wrap up his or her thoughts.
Selecting a suitable topic, out of the given options, for an essay is the first and foremost step that must be taken with care and seriousness. Out of the provided list, you should opt for a simpler and less technical topic for it will require comparatively less methodological, technical and subtle details. Some highly crucial and popular topics like “Terrorism”, “Kashmir issue” or “Palestine-Israel conflict” may appear to be impressive and exciting, but you should go for such topics only when you have adequate knowledge and information about their background, contemporary status and the crux of these issues. Another critical factor, in this regard, is the mentioning of the correct dates of important milestones and the names of the people and places associated with them. Furthermore, you have to give references of experts’ opinions and analysis.
Next, you must prepare in your mind an outline of your ingredients and the scheme of presentation before putting pen to paper. Otherwise, you are liable to apportion unjust and abrupt space and time to different points and portions and it will, consequently, destroy the coherence of your essay. You must keep in mind whether the topic is descriptive, critical and debatable or a narration-based account. Then, you will be able to focus on and set your points in a fitting order.
In debatable subjects, you have to offer a brief introduction, merits and demerits and, finally, your verdict or conclusion, giving adequate and deserved share to each division. Remember to offer merits, pros, advantages or positive points first and then to discuss negative aspects. An outlined and preplanned submission of facts will help you allocate suitable time and extent to all segments. For example, if you have 35 minutes for writing an essay, on a debatable theme, you know you have to give five minutes to introduction, 10 minutes each to advantages and disadvantages and five minutes to your verdict or conclusion. The remaining five minutes are for preparing an outline in your mind.
The most recurrently committed mistake is the mishandling of the essay in connection to its size, length, proportional division and the allotted time. Generally speaking, the students spur their pens with enthusiasm and proceed on a lengthy introduction without realising that they are running short of time and word-limit, and when they become conscious of this fact, they try to wrap up the whole essay abruptly without submitting all the significant supporting details and leading to an appropriately wound up conclusion.
A just and apposite proportional space must be allotted to all three parts — beginning, middle and the ending. The beginning, comprising introductory paragraph(s) and a brief background of the topic, normally comprises 15-20 per cent of the total space whereas the middle, the central and the main portion, covers 60-70pc of the overall span, and the ending, too, deserves 15-20pc share in the scheme.
The culture of using headings and subheadings in the essays is quite prevalent in our schools and it often remains yoked with the students’ minds even till the university level. This practice of using markers and highlighters for giving headings has a negative impact on your composition and matter. The best way to compose an essay is to divide it into paragraphs and then to make your subheadings instead of highlighting the topic sentences of the paragraphs.
Another misconception about essay writing is that if you write more and more stuff, however superfluous it may be, you will impress the examiner and get maximum marks. It is sheer nonsense and plays havoc with your essay’s compactness. One must adhere to what has been asked and must not pour in whatever is lying in his memory or store of information.
The adherence to cohesion and coherence in submitting your details and information is also an aspect of vital significance. You must begin with a mind-capturing beginning that must harmoniously lead into the middle or the central ingredient. Likewise, the middle must merge with the conclusion in a manner that the whole piece may present the impression of being a compact unit. Introduction and background of the subject matter must be placed in the beginning, details in the middle and winding up in the ending. In certain narratives and travelogues where happenings and events are involved the stream of flow will follow only chronological order. In the same way, debatable essays will go after the sequence prescribed in the preceding lines.
Courtesy: – Dawn