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Help needed with writing introduction...

(4 Posts)
Mousey84 Sun 30-Aug-09 20:16:40

Despite this being my third course with the OU I still get stuck writing essays

While I love the course Im doing now, I could cry at the thought of writing an essay about it (planning financially for retirement - only 900 words but it might as well be 9000) I cant plan the essay either. I dont get it (and Ive read 3 books on how to plan and write essays)

Anyone have any tips?

I get that the intro should inform the reader about what Im about to tell them, then the middle tells them it, and the conclusion tells them what I told them in the main bit. This does not help me, Im afraid.

Molesworth Tue 01-Sep-09 08:33:33

Your intro needs to set the scene (maybe with a brief overview of the topic), possibly defining any terms you are going to use (especially any terms that are used in the question) and, as you say, to tell readers how you're going to answer the question so that they know what to expect. Easier said than done though, I know. I'm on my fourth year and essay writing has become harder every year, not easier shock

My advice is to get stuck in to your answer and don't worry about the introduction. You could write a few lines to get you started, but you'll probably go back and change them, so don't worry if they're crap unpolished. It's a good strategy to start by writing your conclusion, then the main body of the essay (at which point you'll probably change your conclusion a bit) and then tackle the intro at the end. If you haven't got an essay plan then I suppose it's obvious that writing your intro will be hard, because you haven't decided what you're going to say yet. Although we're always told to plan plan plan, sometimes it's only by writing that your plan emerges. Having said that, it's a good idea to try making a plan first, just to get you started. Try kicking off by writing a one sentence answer to the question: this can be the basis of your conclusion. Another good one is to get a bunch of post-it notes and brainstorm by writing each point on a post-it as you think of it. Then you can shuffle your post-its around to find some sort of structure. Some people like using mind maps, although personally I hate them because they show me how messy my thoughts are!

Possibly the most helpful advice I've ever had about writing is that it's always hard, even for people who do it professionally. It's normal to procrastinate, it's normal to find the blank page daunting, it's normal to hate doing the first draft, but it's also normal to find the task gets easier and more enjoyable once that first draft is down on paper (or on screen).

Anyway, good luck with it - I've also got one on the go and I'm busy procrastinating wink

Mousey84 Tue 01-Sep-09 17:15:34

Thanks so much Molesworth. I tried the post it idea and its great. I tried mindmaps, but was trying to make them too perfect and spent too long doing them.

I started the essay this morning and am already over the word limit depite only answering one of the two questions (but have a great intro!) Will obviously be going over it and shortening bits - Just want to get everything on paper rather than worry about editing as I go.

Molesworth Wed 02-Sep-09 09:53:26

I do that with mindmaps too - fiddle for ages to get them looking right and then stare blankly at finished product!

You've inspired me now to get on with mine <gets out 8783982774 post it notes>

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