How to Write a Winning Essay

There are several different types of essays. But no matter what style you choose, or in which style you are compelled to write, the most important decision that you will need to make is what will be the topic of your winning essay.

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If you are a student in school, you may be assigned a specific list of topics or subjects from which to choose. If you are an employee, your boss might dictate the subject matter. You might be at liberty to choose a topic that pleases you. In any case, approach the first step with reverence for it is truly the origin from which your whole essay will sprout. Ideally, your final choice of a topic should be one that interests you or one you can become very passionate about.

During the first step of the essay writing process, it is imperative that we have time alone. If we must, let us put our self in isolation for a brief span of time. I know we’ve heard it said in the past that it’s important to brainstorm with other people for ideas. However, at this point in our essay writing process we are not seeking to please the crowd. We want to be able to hear that inspirational voice which has been silenced by the multitude and buried deep within us. We seek inspiration to formulate an idea that excites and impassions us, so that each day we find that there is a desire to return to it to develop and nurture it to its full potential.

Hopefully, following the previous stage of incubation, we are beginning to realize that an undeniable conviction has germinated regarding the worthiness of the topic we chose to write about. Now we are at an ideal point in our writing process to brainstorm with others. Even at the risk that the ownership of our idea might be compromised, we feel at ease about engaging the participation of others to contribute to the elaboration and expansion of our idea.

Wherever we might find some information about our chosen winning essay topic, we will search it out. Most of us are aware that the internet is a quick medium through which to acquire information on all types of topics by research. We will use it judiciously, being cautious about accepting any information from it as accurate. We will always carefully consider the source.

Libraries are still wonderful places to find resource material. Also, depending on the subject matter, other people’s firsthand experience can become very valuable information for an essay. Movies, documentaries, museums, and even our own experiences can be growth fertilizer for the topic idea we decide upon.

Without question, we must ascertain that any material or information that we use from other writers is well documented. We must avoid plagiarism at all cost. We will not copy another writer’s material and claim it as our own. (We will discuss documentation styles in a later writing.)

Now, we’ve gathered together all our ingredients, so to speak. However, we will not let the abundance of material matter intimidate us. We are not going to use it all, anyway. We will arrange and rearrange it; chip away at it until it looks and feels right to us. By that I mean, when we step back to look at it, we must be able to say in our heart, “It is good.” If we cannot say those three words to ourselves, then we are not finished. We will continue to arrange, rearrange, refine, and chip away until “It is done.”

This process of writing a winning essay can be used to approach not only essay writing but also other writing styles. The parameters of the particular writing assignment, whether it is expository, argumentative, research, descriptive, autobiographical, business or technical, will dictate what we will use and what we will discard. We will keep only that which is necessary and not an encumbrance to our final product.

Not all essays are long nor do they all encompass many pages. One may be asked to write an essay of a single page or perhaps a one paragraph essay. Just remember, no matter how long or how short it may be they all must have a beginning, middle, and an end. Yes my friend, writing a winning essay is that simple.

As Henry David Thoreau use to say, “Simplify, simplify.” What a paradox!

In the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style.

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004. Print.

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