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  1.  Essay Writing

1.1.           What is an essay?

An essay is made up of a number of paragraphs. These paragraphs play important roles in the essay. Essays have an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph. Essays vary in length depending on what and how much the writer plans to write about a given topic. Writing essays involves a writing process.

1.2.           The Writing Process

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) resources provide guidance for learners as they undertake their writing assignments and projects at university. The OWL provides an instantaneous guidance and resources readily accessible by learners as they work towards reaching assignment deadlines. Despite variation in different task descriptions across units, the writing process is generic and involves three important stages; pre-writing, drafting, and editing and proof-reading before publishing.

1.2.1.    Pre-writing process

All assignment at DWU have deadlines set therefore it is important to develop and effective plan to answer the question asked. Writing essays involve a development process before the final product is achieved. The quality of input and time given to planning and writing up the tasks shows in the end product. Planning ahead helps you to focus on pre-writing activities that will help you draw your ideas together and organize them before you begin to write the first draft. It is important to determine when you feel more productive to work on your essay to ensure you are making progress as you work towards your deadlines. Taking break between writing intervals allows your mind to reflect on what you have written in case you need to make changes. 

1.2.2.    Finding a Topic

There are many different purposes in writing. At Divine Word University (DWU) students write in response to given assessment tasks. These tasks range from essays, research reports, book reviews and others.  It is important to understand the content words and task words to choose the right topic for the project. Content words sets the boundary of your response to the task while task words tell how your response should be presented. These words help define a topic.   The following are some examples:

  • Summarizing: Condensing longer text to shorter texts by presenting only the main points.
  • Arguing/Persuading: Using expressive language to convince and argue issues or topics purposely to convince others.
  • Narrating: Giving an account of an event/s by story telling
  • Evaluating: Determining the value of something using a set of criteria.
  • Analyzing: Examine the relationship between parts of a complete idea or something by breaking them into parts.
  • Examining/Investigating: Maintaining neutrality on issues while at the same time questioning and finding out facts.
  • Observing: Using detailed sensory description to instill understanding on issues, persons, places, objects or events.

1.2.3.    Determining Audience

Determining what target audience is that will be reading helps to keep the tone, language and expressions relevant. Your choice of topic is also influenced by the audience. Your lecturers and tutors become the audience for most essay writing at Divine Word University. Here are some questions to ask about the audience;

·         Who is the audience you are writing for?

·         Why should your audience be interested in the topic?

·         How much does your audience already know about this topic?

·         What does your audience need to know about this topic?

·         What do you hope the audience will gain from what you will write?

1.2.4.    Thesis Statement

The thesis statement contains the purpose. It also reveals the writer’s position in writing. The entire essay is built around the thesis statement. Each issue or argument stated in the thesis statement is expanded in each paragraph.

1.2.5.    Freewriting

Free writing helps the writer to write anything and everything that comes to mind about a topic. This is a prewriting process that will eventually be organized into a formal list of ideas the writer chooses to write about.

1.2.6.    Brainstorming

Brainstorming is writing down ideas that comes to the mind that may be related to the essay topic. As this is the initial stage, there may be ideas written down that may be irrelevant.

1.2.7.    Clustering ideas

Clustering is a brainstorming method that clusters sub-ideas around a central idea and expands further outwards. Some writers prefer this method over the listing method.

1.2.8.    Creating an Outline

Outlining ideas helps one get their ideas organized and into a visible order. Through this layout, it is clear to see what the writer plans to talk about from the introduction, to the body and how they plan to conclude the essay. There are many types of graphic organizers that can be used to get ideas organized before drafting the essay.

1.3.            Drafting

1.3.1.    Introductory paragraph

Introductory paragraphs introduce the subject to be discussed to the reader. The introductory paragraph has three features; Hook, transition, thesis statement. Depending on what the purpose is in writing, there are many ways to present the Hook. The transition sentences or sentences narrows to focus of the reader towards the thesis statement, the reason or purpose in writing. Therefore, the introductory paragraph usually end with the thesis statement. A thesis statement contains the writer’s purpose in writing and may include in brief the major issues or arguments the writer plans to cover in detail in the body paragraphs of the essay.

1.3.2.    Topic Sentences

Each topic sentence in a paragraph contains a central idea to be discussed in each paragraph. It is important that this central idea is introduced in the thesis statement. It ensures logic serve as a linkage between the introductory paragraph and the body paragraphs. Often times, the topic sentence appear as the first sentence in the paragraph. However, writers may choose to have a linking sentence to the previous paragraph before stating the topic sentence.

2.3.4. Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs have important features as they expand on specific ideas planned to be discussed in each paragraph. These ideas appear as the controlling ideas in the topic sentence. There are major details and minor details in each paragraph. The PEEL strategy is used to explain what these details; P- point, E- explanation, E- example and L- linking sentence. Major details describe the topic sentence while the minor details deliberate on the major detail. A linking sentence forms a bridge between the previous and the next paragraph.

2.3.5.      Conclusions

Conclusions are kept to a concise number of words usually shorter than the introductory and body paragraphs but contain two important features. Firstly, it restates the writers purpose and main ideas discussed and secondly, it presents a clinch or opinion about the topic to leave a lasting impression on the reader.


    2.4.     Coherence

Coherence is writing plays an important role in ensuring unity of ideas in essays. Coherence creates links between word in sentences and paragraphs. There are connective devices that can be used to link ideas in sentences and paragraphs in essays.

    2.5.     Voice in writing

Researching and gathering facts and information from sources about a topic for an essay may get one to pass. However, integrating these ideas and expressing them in one’s own words, style and expression creates one’s own voice in writing. Consequently, this helps one to learn to combine facts and ideas in their own way creating authenticity and originality.

2.6. Revision

Looking at one’s work with a critical eye helps one to measure one’s work against a given criterion. Editing and proof-reading can also happen during revision. It helps one to identify anything that is missing or remove anything that is not relevant to the essay topic. Revision is done at the end of the drafting phase but can also happen at any time during the write up.

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