How to write a short essay in 10 steps

For the first test of maturity do you plan to write a short essay? Do you dream of 10 effective moves to deliver a short essay triumphantly for a year-end test or for a course you have attended (hopefully) profitably? No fear. Here is a scheme or, if you prefer, a lineup, and some useful tips to converge on the goal at every opportunity. Remember that the best example you can have is a right method of reasoning.

Night before exams. With all due respect to Antonello Venditti and his emotional bric-a-brac (which does not fail to tickle every generation), let’s give ourselves some useful guidelines for the preparation of our brief essay. First of all, let’s ask ourselves: “What is a short essay?” We are talking about a paper that takes up and summarizes some ideas and information found from different sources. If the subject of your essay has been assigned to you, you will also be provided with a list of texts from which to draw news. If you examine visual sources (documentaries, films, video clips, paintings, comics, etc.) or materials on the net, look for the precise reference and correctly cite the bibliography inherent to your topic.

To write a good short essay you will have to demonstrate a good attitude (a professor at my university often preached it!) To establish links between the elements of your research that present similarities or similarities with the topic you are dealing with, or with the thesis that you have in mind to support. Your work must then be organized and structured, selecting the most suitable material for your work.

But let’s see better what are the 10 moves to write a short essay and do not frustrate or render incomplete our purpose:

Choose the appropriate topic. Unless the title has already been assigned to you, if there is a margin of choice (or better yet, a list of topics) do not take into consideration topics that have very distant sources. Identify at least 3 sources that have a direct bearing on the topic you are proposing.

What kind of essay? It could be an argumentative essay, where you expound your point of view and articulate its aspects. Do not venture too far in this direction if you are not masters of the subject and have not metabolized many readings on the subject. You could organize an explanatory essay: draw the coordinates of the theme you are going to treat; presented the state of the art on the subject, with respect to the sources in your possession; organize the facts by categories and review the positions taken by the most attested and officially recognized luminaries of the discipline, with the aim of expanding the skills of the reader (in this case it will be similar to a popular article). Finally, you could consider writing a critical essay, or starting a discussion on some theses supported in the framework of the discipline in question. In medicine or in humanistic and social studies this type of short essays takes on the task of analyzing the weak points of some research or experimentation and / or highlighting some areas worthy of further study.

Develop the thesis. Try to make yourself a point of view on the subject and express it in a short clear sentence. Don’t be bizarre or “bastian opposites” at all costs, if you don’t have solid arguments! Compare your theses with the most authoritative opinions on the subject.

You could start with an a) preamble or introductory phrase, or go straight to the point, in medias res. Perhaps to mention an opinion, a sentence or an eloquent and explanatory passage with respect to the thesis you intend to support; b) illustrate the current positions or the studies carried out and the conclusions regarding the topic of your essay. Then c) support the focal points of your argument with recourse to sources and their relevance; d) finally reiterate the importance of your topic, what you have deduced and the conclusions you have reached, with an effective closure to emphasize the critical spirit with which you approached the problem. A relevant bibliography is provided in the appendix.

Presentation. To better illustrate the aspects of your thesis you could use objective documentary sources: eg. include tables, graphs, illustrations, photographs, etc. your short essay. Or a press review of related newspaper articles, some paintings or cartoons that recall the subject and that subjectively connote the essay you intend to write.

Tricks of the trade. Use the “straw man technique”: present a thesis opposite to yours; Below is a sample of theses that refute it, citing the sources. Discuss in detail the defects and weaknesses of the opposite thesis, showing that you are aware and finally hit with a slash, emphasizing the solid and unassailable elements of your thesis, proven by the state of the art and the most accredited currents of thought that play on your behalf. You can also make “concessions”: you value the opposite thesis in its general aspects, but you compare it with yours with respect to those elements for which it is “weak”, indirectly having the effect of demonstrating how the thesis you support is more strong.

The form is everything! To write well your short essay is best to use the third person. It gives professionalism, authority and allows you to build clear sentences. Attention to the register used: use the appropriate vocabulary for the subject you are dealing with, but not further complicated. The sentence must be formulated in a direct and understandable way, without too many panegyrics; eliminate the redundancies and go straight to the core. Avoid a too articulated hypothesis. Identify the supporting sentence and be careful not to insert too many grades of subordinates. Better to break a complex proposition into more simple sentences. Try not to say trivial things, but not even that the speech becomes too cumbersome!

Writing. Try to follow the line-up you have set yourself, but do not worry if, during the work, you feel the need to integrate, eliminate or diverge from the path. The important thing is that a substantial consistency is ensured in the construction of the text. Roll out the introduction (which is not too wide); frame the topic in a synthetic way; use statements, quotes, personal anecdotes or historical events to corroborate your thesis. In the central body of the text you present the topic that will be the backbone of your short essay. Discuss the facts and elements related to the central topic; list the most proven theses and currents of thought, even those that conflict with your point of view, and organize them into strategies, as shown in the previous points. The order of the paragraphs can be of chronological type, based on the history and literature on the subject, but always well correlated.

Reading and (re) writing. Read again carefully what you have written, several times and even aloud if you are in your studio and you are preparing the essay to be delivered. Ask yourself questions: “Did I build the summary of sources well in support of my point of view?”; “Did I explain all the logical reasons to support my thesis?”; “Is my essay consistent with the proposed argument and develop all the points I had set for myself in the lineup?” Writing and integrating if there is something to fix or something is missing.

Revision. Treat vocabulary and grammar; look for errors, misprints, repetitions, logical connections between propositions and paragraphs. Any examples should be clear to the reader and let your friend or someone else have a taste of your brief essay. Let them express an opinion: what would you add or take away from your arguments? It works? Is it written clearly? Finally the title: it should represent the point of view of your thesis and express the reasons in an icastic and concise manner. Think of more than one, try and recombine.

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