Essay Writing Tutorial: Tips for Freshman

Writing is a necessary skill for every successful college student. Inevitably, you will have to write a paper at some point. When writing papers has not been your high point in school, there are some simple tips to assist you in writing better papers.

Start with a Good Thesis

The thesis provides the heart and soul of your paper. It tells your reader what you are trying to say. Therefore, you start a good paper here. Keep your thesis interesting and controversial. A thesis should not merely be “The IRA was influential in Irish politics”. The IRA was a huge political presence in Ireland for a long time, so this is hardly interesting and controversial. Rather, you can say, “Despite their efforts, the IRA contributed to the economic demise of Ireland from the 1940s to the present”. Remember that you should present a thesis that can be argued.

Stay Focused

One of the hardest things to do in a paper is stay on topic. It's natural to want to demonstrate your extensive knowledge on a subject, but sometimes we have to pick and choose what we should write. If you're writing a paper on the imagery of the white whale in Moby Dick, avoid discussing inapplicable information about the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg. Another way to stay focused is to stick to your topic sentence. A topic sentence is generally the first sentence in a paragraph. The topic sentence should directly apply to the thesis, and every sentence in a paragraph should directly apply to the topic sentence of the paragraph. This prevents rambling on in your paper about something unrelated to what the paragraph should be about.

Learn Some Basic Grammar Rules

When your teacher grades your paper, they will be critiquing your grammar. No matter how good the content is, if your grammar is suffering, so will your grade. Here are two basic grammar tips to get you started, but this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Always use present tense. When writing your paper, most teachers require present tense. This means, you don't write, “Huckleberry Finn said...”. Instead, you will write, “Huckleberry says...”. Keep this consistent throughout your paper.

Also, avoid using the passive tense. The passive tense are “to be” word. These are “is” and any other variation of the word. You never write, “Emerson is inspirational.” Rather, you'll write, “Emerson inspires his audience.” Use verbs that pop. Remember to also look into commas, other punctuation, and the proper times to use certain words (ex. There, their, and they're). There are a lot of grammar rules to learn. This is just a start.

Writing for your teachers isn't that difficult once you get the hang of it. Never be afraid to go outside of the box, and always be ready to improve.