In this chapter my goal is to show you how to write an essay in three easy steps.
This is a simple three-step process of writing an essay of any length and on any topic - even if you’re totally confused about writing and even if you don’t like writing. So, let’s begin to learn how to write an essay.
The three steps for writing a winning essay are:
- Step 1. Take a Stand as you learn how to write an essay
- Step 2. Write your Thesis Statement
- Step 3. Write the Body of the Essay
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But what about Introductions and Conclusions? This is what I was taught on how to write an essay. Besides, in learning how to write an essay I was taught to structure them this way: Introduction, Body, Conclusion. What happened to that?” Well, there’s no other way of saying it, and I’ll say it bluntly. This old and ineffective way of teaching essay writing is responsible for your frustration with writing and for your teacher’s frustration with reading what you wrote. It won't teach you how to write an essay.
And here is the main problem. Most of the time as you learn how to write an essay you are advised to begin your essay with some sort of a ‘hook’ to grab the reader’s attention. Then, after you’ve done that, as you learn how to write an essay you are told to present your thesis, which is your main point. This thesis can be placed at the end of the first paragraph or, if your introduction takes two paragraphs, then it should appear somewhere within those two paragraphs.
This doesn’t help you or your reader learn how to write an essay in three easy steps, for several reasons. First, this doesn’t help you learn how to write an essay and develop your essay in the quickest and easiest way possible. Second, after reading your introduction, your reader may miss your main point in the shuffle of other statements that are kind-of-sort-of related to your topic. And finally, during the process as you learn how to write an essay, you may actually lose your reader’s attention by taking too long to get to the main point as you learn how to write an essay.
So, what do you do instead and how do you solve these problems and learn how to write an essay in three easy steps? You simply follow the three-step formula above. Let’s do an example. Let’s say that we want to learn how to write an essay about high school life. And this would be your teacher’s essay question: “Being a high school student is a wonderful experience. Do you agree or disagree?” So, your first step as you learn how to write an essay is to take a stand.
Step 1. Take a Stand as You Learn How To Write an Essay
Taking a stand as you learn how to write an essay means you simply need to decide firmly whether you agree or disagree with the essay topic in question. And, of course, both you and I realize that high school life has its ups and downs, its own excitements and disappointments. And you could certainly write a statement in which you agree or disagree only partially.
But let’s keep it simple as you learn how to write an essay and let’s assume that you are totally thrilled with being a high school student. Then you should state it as early as possible. The first sentence is a perfect place: “Being a high school student is a wonderful experience.” Great - step 1 completed. Let’s move on to step 2:
Step 2. Write the Thesis Statement
I would like to teach you a simple but very effective technique I call the Power of Three. Here is how you can apply it to write a great thesis statement: “Being a high school student is a wonderful experience for three reasons.” This is more than perfect as you learn how to write an essay.
Now - you may be asking, “Why three? And not five or ten?” And the answer is that three is the easiest largest number for the human brain to deal with effectively. We simply think better in terms of three. One doesn’t help you, because only one reason that high school rocks provides little information to fill up your pages. Two is better. But three is best. And anything more than three is simply unnecessary, at least in a simple essay such as this one. Let’s keep it at three. (And, by the way, with practice, you can use the Power of Three to develop any topic and quickly learn how to write an essay.)
Now, a full thesis statement as you learn how to write an essay consists of two parts: Thesis and Statement of Support. The first part - thesis - is the first sentence that we just wrote: “Being a high school student is a wonderful experience for three reasons.” And the second part of the thesis statement should simply outline every reason briefly.
Let’s see what this looks like in practice: “Being a high school student is a wonderful experience for three reasons. First, meeting new people and making friends is an exciting part of high school life. Second, high school provides for an opportunity to explore college courses, which may help choose a major earlier rather than later. And finally, high school students have an opportunity to learn how to drive a car through driver’s ed programs.”