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Improving Your Essay Writing
The further you go in school, the higher the expectations will be for your writing skills. Remember when you were in 2nd grade, you wrote simple little sentences, like “I like to walk my dog.” You probably got a star, because that little sentence met your teacher’s expectations. As you progressed through grammar school, you began to write more – longer sentences and then whole paragraphs. At some point, you received your first essay assignment, and you have to put 5 paragraphs together about a single topic. The topics continued to get more complex, and the types of essays began to be more numerous. All of a sudden you found yourself writing a persuasive essay on some controversial issue.
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Good Writing is a Skill that Can be Learned
Writing a good essay requires several things, as follows:
- You have to have sound grammar and composition skills.
- You have to have a vocabulary appropriate for your age and academic level
- You have to be able to organize your thoughts
- You have to know your topic (it may take a bit of research).
- You have to understand the type of essay you are to write (explanatory, descriptive, comparison/contrast, narrative, persuasive, etc.)
- You have to understand your audience
If You Want to Know How to Improve Essay Writing, Read on!
I taught high school and college English composition for years. What struck me most of all was the huge variance in writing abilities of the students who entered my classroom each semester. I knew I had to help those who were struggling, and over time, I began to develop a list of tips that I now pass on to you.
- You must read: People who write well have always read a lot. I know your text books are not exciting, but they are usually good examples of formal English writing. You can also read fiction material that you enjoy – most works that you might read (e.g., the Star Wars Trilogy, any John Grisham novel, and even “fluff” writers like Janet Evanovich) are reflective of good sentence structure, at least in their descriptions and narratives. Pick an author you like, and read, read, read!
- If you are really challenged in the grammar and sentence structure areas, you need to seek help from someone. S/he can review your writing and explain all of the corrections that must be made. Gradually, over time, these will “sink in.”
- You have to practice! Even if you do not have an assignment, begin to keep a journal. You must write a much as possible. Then, read your writing out loud to yourself. Does it sound right? If your vocal speech and communication is good, you will discover your mistakes quite easily by reading out loud.
- Read samples of the essays you have been assigned. If you are writing a persuasive essay, for example, read as many of them that you can find, particularly on your topic. You will find thousands with a simple “Google” search. Look at the phrasing and the variety of sentences writers use. Writing a good essay is easier when you have several good models to study.
- Absolutely make use of the spell check, and certainly the grammar check, on your word processing program. With “Word,” when you see the green line, don’t just right-click and take their suggestion. There will be link titled “grammar,” and it will explain the grammar rule that applies. Read it! Again, over time, this will help.
- Make use of online dictionaries and especially find a good thesaurus. You can find great substitutes for the simple, tired words you have been using.
How to Improve Essay Writing?
I really hope that you will take these suggestions to heart. I spent years in the classroom with struggling students, and I can tell you that these work! Eventually, you may even come to enjoy writing!