5 Essay Writing Rules

Writing an essay requires practice and a natural talent for writing. Even people who have a hard time putting their thoughts into words can still write well if they spend the extra time and effort to perfectly craft their paper. To make sure that students get the best grade on their assignment, they should make sure to use the five following steps for excellent writing.

  1. Skip Out on the Long Words
  2. Mark Twain once railed against the use of “very” in writing and suggested getting rid of it entirely. Although students do not have to remove every use of “very” or every long word, they should be extremely careful about the word choices that they make. As a rule, students should never use a long word in their writing when a shorter word will do. Writing is meant to express ideas, and longer words can obfuscate the real meaning. Be concise, focus on brevity and make sure to get the point across.

  3. Get Active
  4. When writing, it is important to focus on the active voice instead of the passive voice. This means that rather than say, “The rules were broken by him”, you would say, “He broke the rules”. Active voice helps to show immediately what is happening and places the emphasis on the subject. It makes writing shorter, clearer and more forceful. Obviously, the passive voice can still be used on occasion if it makes more sense, but writers should strive to use active voice. One example where it might make sense to use passive voice would be in the sentence, “John was given a car by Sara”. By using the passive voice in this instance, it puts the focus on John getting a car instead of the subject, “Sara”.

  5. Avoid Using Metaphors and Similes
  6. Good writing should not rely on a metaphor or simile to make a point. In essay writing, students should avoid using phrases like “an ax to grind”, “toe the line” or “swan song”. These phrases may sound melodic, but they are a colloquial, casual way of writing that is more appropriate to the spoken word. Instead of using similes and metaphors, students should work to think of fresh, unique images for their writing.

  7. Always Make an Outline
  8. Even professional writers have problems with organizing their thoughts. Ideally, the writing process should begin with brainstorming topic ideas. Once the student has figured out a good topic, they can start to research it. If there are enough research materials available, the student can decide for sure on the topic and begin outlining.

    The start of the outline always includes a thesis statement. Normally, the thesis statement will be found in the middle or end of the introduction. This statement should make an argument that will be proved in the rest of the paragraphs. Following this, students should make topic sentences for each paragraph. Positioned at the start of the paragraph, these topic sentences are like miniature thesis statements that support the main topic. Beneath the topic sentence, students should include two or three pieces of research that support their entire argument. The paper ends with a conclusion that sums up the argument. As the student makes this outline, they can reorganize the order of the paragraphs and the research to ensure the best argument.

  9. Take Time to Edit
  10. One of the most important parts of writing is editing. In this step, the student has to make sure that there are no spelling errors, grammar mistakes or problems with the argument. Any typos or spelling errors will distract the reader from the overall point of the essay, so students should take time to proofread their work. Reading the document outline, getting a friend to help and using a spell checking program are all great ways to start the editing process.