Practical Essay

Editing your writing as you develop your ideas is a positive not a negative process: the more you cross out, re-write, and re-order, the better your essay should become. The structure may be strong and clear, or it may be unobtrusive and minimal but, in a good essay, it will be there.Underpinning the structure will be the ‘argument’ your essay is making.

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As with teaching, it is often not until you try to communicate an argument and its evidence that you find where the gaps are in your knowledge or argument.It is worth attending to all of the suggestions and comments you receive, and trying to act on them.Common criticism given to students is that their essay: These elements will be used to give a broad overall structure to this Study Guide.As a tutor has said (Creme and Lea, 1997 p41): ‘When my students ask me about essay writing, there are three main pieces of advice that I give them. The Mini Guide: Essay terms explained, and Questions to ask about interpreting essay titles may be useful.To start you off, and to minimise the likelihood of writer’s block, a useful exercise is to do a ‘brainstorm’ of all your ideas in connection with the essay title. It can be much less stressful to throw all your thoughts down on paper, before you start trying to find answers to these questions.Producing incisive and clear written work within a word limit is an important skill in itself, which will be useful in many aspects of life beyond university.Good, constructively critical feedback can give you excellent guidance on how to improve your essay writing.It is therefore useful to go into the writing process expecting to make revisions.The first words you write do not have to be part of the final version.Essentially, this is what you are doing within the essay process: breaking ideas down, then building them up again.You need to: Throughout this process, the essay title is the single immovable feature.

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