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How to get an essay to flow?

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drinkswineoutofamug Tue 17-Oct-17 13:15:00

I don’t know if I’m in the right place here.
I’m on my 2nd year of an ou course. My first mini essay is due 9th November. I’m stuck. I just can’t seem to get the essay to flow properly. It doesn’t help that it’s only 1000 words and I’m trying to condense all my notes in to something understandable! I’ve got bullet points of what I need to include but when I try to type/write it out it’s jumping all over the place. Any hints or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

drinkswineoutofamug Tue 17-Oct-17 13:22:22

Sorry seen I’m on wrong thread and asked HQ to move my post.

blueskyinmarch Tue 17-Oct-17 13:27:13

What topic is it? Surely you wrote essays in your first year? It is the same format no matter how many words - introduction signposting people to what you are about to discuss, 2/3 areas of discussion trying to link each area to the next one, then a short conclusion. Have you maybe got too many areas you want to discuss? Think about what is absolutely necessary to answer to question and stick to only that.

drinkswineoutofamug Tue 17-Oct-17 13:32:06

That’s my problem, I seemed to of forgotten, too much in RL got in the way. I wrote my best essay in a court room last year waiting for my daughter to be sentenced. It’s the link words I’m struggling with. I’m doing about well being and mental health.

blueskyinmarch Tue 17-Oct-17 13:37:47

Hmm. Have you written anything yet? It is possible it will become apparent how to link each bit as you go? I am no expert but have just written a few essays recently as part of a course i am doing and wanted to try and help you - i know how stressful it can be!

drinkswineoutofamug Tue 17-Oct-17 13:39:43

Yes, I’ve done the intro , now onto the main body but it reads to blocky is you get what I mean

NewbieAcademic Tue 17-Oct-17 13:44:51

Tell them what you are going to tell them.
Then tell them.
Then tell them what you told them.

For a 1000 word essay write out 4-5 bullet points of what you are going to cover. Rearrange your bullet points until they're in a meaningful flowy order - Start with the broadest points and then get into nitty gritty like an inverse pyramid.

Your intro should get me interested in your essay. Give me a reason to keep reading "In this essay I will summarise existing research on XYZ and develop the idea that actually ABC also serves a purpose here", or something like that.

Then one paragraph per point.

Then conclude by ramming home what you did in this essay "I explored the evidence supporting XYZ and found that while there have been multiple useful strands of research they have not been synthesised effectively." something like that.

Happy to give more suggestions if you explain what your topic is and what you are trying to say.

Don't fall into the trap of using meaningless large words or trying to cram too much. If I read your essay I should come away with one or two interesting thoughts, and a general feeling that you know what you are talking about. Doesn't have to cover every possible angle of every possible take on the subject.

Good luck!

blueskyinmarch Tue 17-Oct-17 13:46:00

Can you pick up on something you mentioned towards the end of the intro? So maybe you have said that you were going to consider mental health and well being and the impact of X and Y on this. Then you can move on to "Turning firstly to the consideration of X..... and its effect on MH and WB"?

NewbieAcademic Tue 17-Oct-17 13:47:26

XPost - you need to transition better. Just go back to the fundamental idea behind each paragraph and write just that out in 6-8 words on a post it. Then shuffle the post its around to see if they are in the best possible order (inverse pyramid).

Then lay out a plan for how you'll cover it in the intro. So I often say "This essay will start by doing A, then examine the supporting evidence in B. The third section deals with C while the fourth section advances certain key objections already developed by experts."

Then when you are writing you can use these Transitions to help your essay not feel like a bunch of choppy sentences thrown together.

blueskyinmarch Tue 17-Oct-17 13:48:42

The most useful tip i have ever had was to answer the question in every paragraph. As Newbie says - keeping ensuring you make your points so the reader absolutely knows what your argument is and how you are backing it up.

FaFoutis Tue 17-Oct-17 13:49:39

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that includes a link word.

thecatfromjapan Tue 17-Oct-17 13:55:01

1000 words is about 3-5 main points.

Paragraph structure:

opening sentence refers back to the preceding paragraph and looks forward to what is going to be in this paragraph: "Having discussed blah/having outlined the main argument of this essay .... I will not look at blah blah ..."

Next however many sentences: dicuss blah blah

Last sentence of paragraph: Recap briefly what you did in the paragraph and look forward. "In conclusion/to sum up .... pithy summing up of point .... this raises the question of (whatever next point is)... there is also the issue of (next point) .... I now turn to (whatever you turn to in your next paragraph).

That's a rough guide. Obviously, you need to vary it a bit because you can't have all your paragraphs beginning and ending that way - it would read very strangely. But that, in principle, is how it flows: Your essay has an intro and a conclusion and in the middle is the main bulk (your points). You flow from paragraph to paragraph, point to point, with orientating sentences at the start and end of paragraphs basically telling your reader how this paragraph relates to the one before, what is going to be in that paragraph, and how it relates to what comes next.

1000 words isn't enough to be very flashy - if you have a lot of material, it might be better to just dump it all, paragraph by paragraph.

I sometimes write essays by writing a paragraph about each point, then deciding on the order, then writing the linking paragraphs, and then writing the introduction and conclusion.

Not sure this matters for a 1000 word essay (you probably don't have enough space):
Introduction = describing what I've written/what the reader is going to read (kind of like a map) + sometimes an explanation why it's in that order; conclusion = recap of what they've read and why I think it's important.

Last point: Writing the essay is a question of getting words out on paper, it's the editing that is the glossy bit.
What about just writing the whole thing quickly and then spending more time, after that, doing the glossing and buffing and shining? I think you might find it easier to add the 'flow' when you have a clear idea of what you're writing + the words to say it already (in most part) written.

thecatfromjapan Tue 17-Oct-17 13:57:40

Oh, that has been said so much better by other posters. smile

I also realise I've made a slightly confusing error, and written "linking paragraphs" instead of "linking sentences." <sigh>

LornaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 17-Oct-17 14:29:32

We're just sending this over to pendants' corner at the OP's request.


ChipInTheSugar Tue 17-Oct-17 14:31:33

Look up “academic phrasebank” - a Uni of Manchester resource - it will give you everything you need!

OlennasWimple Tue 17-Oct-17 14:42:43

Write the introduction and conclusion last!

Depends on the subject, but one para in favour of the argument, another para against the argument and a third para refuting the arguments against (plus short intro and conclusion) works well

Then you can use linking words and phrases such as "however", "not every one agrees", "it can be argued that", "on the other hand" etc etc

drinkswineoutofamug Tue 17-Oct-17 15:57:32

Thank you so much. I’m taking my notes into work tonight. You have all been a great help. Think I’ve had brain freeze! It’s a very interesting subject.
Yes I will write the main first then go back to the intro and conclusion. I waffle in general so do find hard to condense. Thank you again

drinkswineoutofamug Wed 18-Oct-17 18:00:56

Well with your helpful tips I cracked on last night. Written my main body of the essay and the staff nurse who read it ( just done her masters) said it was well written , doing my intro and conclusion tonight. Thanks again

ferriswheel Wed 18-Oct-17 18:02:07

Newbie gives you excellent advice.

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