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How to write essays

(15 Posts)
BreakOutTheKaraoke Tue 06-Sep-11 13:33:40

Does anyone else find it really hard to write essays? I'm doing a degree with the OU, and finding it really hard to get into essay writing. How do you learn to do this? Are there any websites anywhere that give you sample essays to read? I think it would really help me to read how someone else does it. I hate starting them! I don't find them too bad once I get started, but I HATE introductions! Any tips?

keynesian Tue 06-Sep-11 16:51:37

Make a plan first noting all the themes/points/ideas/quotes you want to include and use that to refine the order you want it to be within the body of the essay. I do this in a spreadsheet which makes it easy to cut and paste, so seeing how your paragraphs link one to another. Also have the essay question in bold at the top of the plan so you keep that in mind at all times.

OU have a book called 'The Good Study Guide' by Andrew Nortledge which has a good basic chapter on basic essay writing.

Plenty on ebay

www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Good-Study-Guide-Andrew-Northedge-/230666651765?pt=Non_Fiction&hash=item35b4cdc875

You don't have to write the introduction at the beginning - one of my tutors recommends writing the introduction from what you have written in the main body of the essay.

carocaro Tue 06-Sep-11 16:53:21

Did they send you the Preparing Assignments booklet? I have just done an OU course and find this hard. But they don't expect you to get it right from the start, the feedback you get is very usefull, the good and bad. Are you on a Introduction To ..... course? I just did DSE141 Introduction to Pschology and am starting in Oct Introduction to Social Sciences.

I bang out a rough structure, do a mind map of points I may want to include, sometimes start writing the conclusion first. What I am trying to say is that I don't start at the beginning if you see what I mean! Kind of pull it all together like a recipe.

I really would not look at other essays as you will get tainted and you have to develop your own style and voice. However I could email you one of mine with the tutor feedback, but do bear in mind it's my style. I do get what you mean by just having one to read helps. Also do try to go to as many of the day schools as poss, as they did a workshop on this very subject which was brilliant.

PM me is you want me to email you.

BreakOutTheKaraoke Tue 06-Sep-11 18:16:35

Thank you both! I did recieve a study guide with my courses, this is my second but the first was maths so not essay based. I'm doing personal finance now, so lots more essays!

I do plan roughly what points I want to make, and write down references, but I find it hard to put them in any sort of order on paper. Once I have the introduction started, I find it easier to just bang on through it all until it's done. If I stop in the middle, I lose my train of thought and can't really get back to it.

I ordered a book about writing essays, but haven't really found it useful so far- couldn't somehow place it into what I needed to write.

missmogwi Wed 07-Sep-11 11:10:10

Making your case by Stott,Snaith&Rylance.
Covers all aspects of essay writing. Loads cheaper on amazon than brand new!

Red2011 Wed 07-Sep-11 23:17:06

My college recommended Stella Cotrell books. There is one on "skills for success" and (not sure if it is by her but is in same series) about writing essays.
I usually start with a few papers/books that have references in that cover my main themes....copy & paste directly, then rewrite in my own words, picking up supporting info (or contradictory viewpoints) along the way. I start with a bit of the intro, write the main body and often then go back to the intro after the conclusion.

Mspontipine Wed 14-Sep-11 23:19:20

I do find essay writing on a pc a revolution since my previous essay writing days of the 80s.

I write my title in bold. Pop a bit of a plan in a text box so it doesn't count in the word count and kind of ... take it away!!! On PC can start write in the middle keep adding taking away have a good idea get it written down!! I would put it in another colour to ensure my blurbled mind's random outpourings weren't included in finished article by mistake!! Keep going move stuff about get down as much as you can then have a break. I found a warm bath a fantastic way to get the mind working again. Keep your notes by you as you're cooking etc -fab idea - jot it down.

Make sure there is a visible intro,main,conc. Do them in whatever order you like! Intro - what I am going to talk about. main - talk about it. conc - so I have talked about it and come to this...

That's my way of writing successful essays anyway.

Mspontipine Wed 14-Sep-11 23:21:00

Oh and start early. The earlier you start the more time you have to think of fab ideas and titivate grin

BreakOutTheKaraoke Thu 06-Oct-11 18:52:31

Oh, I'm sorry I missed more replies! Well, I sent off my last essay, broke it down more into intro, main body, concusion, really thought I had cracked it...came out with 60% on it sad
I had written my intro, it flowed quite well actually, was about 100 words of an 1100 word essay. It set out what I was planning to do in my essay. My tutor said this was a waste of words as he knew from the question what I had to do in the essay. But everything else you read tells you to do this!
So, my current dilemna is that my EMA is due on this course this month. Given that it will probably be an independant examiner who marks my EMA, shall I do it as my tutor wants, or as everyone else advises and include the intro?

FreddieMercurysBolero Thu 06-Oct-11 21:12:31

The best advice I received was this:

Introduction: Say what you are going to include in the essay, include all the points/topics that you will be covering, withal short synopsis of each point. E.g. In this essay, the writer will investigate/ discuss x.

Main body: include each topic, try to ensure it flows seamlessly, e.g. At the end of your first topic, write : the author will now discuss/explore...

Conclusion: a brief synopsis of what you have just discussed, what conclusions you have drawn from the topics.

So, say what you are going to write about, say it, and then say it again. If you want to pm me I can e-mail you a guide to writing essays, it is for social studies, but it has some useful tips.

breatheslowly Thu 06-Oct-11 21:30:30

What sort of question was it?

The best advice I was given when writing essays at degree level was to stop sitting on the fence.

The introduction should explain the question (so explain any technical terms).

Then each paragraph should tackle a different aspect of the question or the research - returning all the time to what the question asked.

A conclusion should be brief - possibly identifying the most persuasive aspects of the evidence or considering the gaps in it.

BreakOutTheKaraoke Sat 08-Oct-11 09:18:42

Thats what I did! Aaargh, it's driving me nuts! Well, this is my last assignment for this course, and as it will be independantly marked, I'm going to do it as I have previously I think. If I get the same feedback from my tutor on my next course, then I'll have to look again I suppose.

Breathe, the question is about the Bank of England base rate, and the impacts it will have on families' budgets, and the country as a whole, if/when it rises.

Freddie, that guide would be fab, thank you. I will PM you now.

HSMM Sun 09-Oct-11 13:10:35

My tutors have always liked introductions.

My Dad's advice on essay structure :
1 say what you're going to say
2 say it
3 say what you said

FreddieMercurysBolero Sun 09-Oct-11 13:33:38

Sorry I'm late getting back, Break, sent it nowsmile

BrEEEKOutTheKaraoke Tue 11-Oct-11 16:43:33

Thank you! Just printing it out to have a read.

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