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Writing Essays: How to Organize your Thoughts

There are those who think that writing is a skill that some people possess, while others just aren’t born with it.  That’s not true.  Just about anyone can write a good essay if they know what steps to follow.  Essay organization makes the difference between a good essay and a poor essay.  A student may have some great ideas, but if those ideas are unorganized and poorly worded it becomes difficult to read and despite the great ideas, will not be a good essay.

If your paper is unorganized and your reader has to work hard to figure out what you’re saying, you haven’t achieved your purpose.  There are three main components to any well-organized essay.  Utilizing these components and following the formula laid out in this article will help you organize your thoughts so that you can produce a well-written essay.

Three Essay Components

There are three main parts to an essay:  the thesis, supporting points, and a conclusion.  The thesis is the purpose of your paper.  If you can answer the question, “What’s your point?” then you have your thesis.  You cannot begin writing until you know what you’re writing about.  The thesis should typically be stated in the last sentence of your introduction paragraph.  This gives the reader a clear idea of what the rest of the paper will be about.

Supporting points are the evidence you have found to support your thesis.  If you can’t come up with very many supporting points, you’d better find a new thesis that you can support with facts.  Each supporting point will be its own paragraph. The required length of your paper will have an impact on how many supporting points you will need.

Your conclusion is the final component of your essay.  In your conclusion, you want to reiterate your thesis, but you don’t want to just repeat words you’ve already written.  This paragraph should be new writing tied closely to your previous points. Once you understand the components that make up an essay, you’ll find that organizing your thoughts becomes easier.

Create an Outline

The first step to organizing your essay is to create an outline of the three main essay components:  The thesis, supporting points, and the conclusion.  Here is an example of a simple outline:

I. Thesis Purpose of your paper; point you plan to prove.
II. Supporting point #1 Concrete detail (facts) and commentary (opinion) that helps you prove your thesis.
III. Supporting point #2
IV. Supporting point #3
V. Conclusion Reiterate thesis in different words to wrap up.

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint of the plans, and you can’t build an organized essay without a blueprint either.  This step may feel tedious, but it is necessary for organized writing.  Do not skip your outline.  Disorganized essays are a result of a lack of planning by the writer.  Your outline is your planning session.  You can go into as much detail, or as little detail as you’d like, but the more details you write into your outline, the faster the writing will go when you compose your essay.

Write

Once your outline is complete, you can begin writing.  The outline really is the biggest job.  You’re going to find that as you follow the outline you’ve made, the hard work is behind you.  With an outline to follow, your mind won’t go off topic and the end result will be a well-written, cohesive, essay.

Proofread

The final step is to proofread.  Proofread, proofread, and proofread because nothing looks worse than an essay with spelling and grammatical errors.  Your teacher may provide you with the opportunity to use your peers as proofreaders, or she may allow you to have a parent proofread your work.  It does help to have someone else look over your paper because often a writer is so close to her work that she can’t see the errors as easily as someone with a fresh eye.

Writing essays isn’t as abstract as some people believe.  An essay can be approached just as you approach a math formula.  The ideas you write about will be as varied as the numbers you encounter, but just like a math problem, you solve it by taking the same steps each time:  Develop a thesis, support your thesis with proof, and write a conclusion.


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