1. nicolo
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    nicolo New Member

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    Major Writing Issue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by nicolo, Oct 29, 2010.

    Okay I'm above average in vocabulary and ect. When I write persuation essays I can easily make an A-B. When I write ANY other type of essay I can't put hardly one word on the paper. It kills me, I start college next year and I'm very nervous on this issue. Any suggestions? If you need further information, I'll gladfully share if it pertains to my writing ability. Ha
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Most academic essays (in my experience) are sort of like persuasive essays. You come up with a thesis and defend it with logical arguments, so I'm not quite sure what you're having trouble with.

    By the way, there are sample essays that can be found online, so you can use those as a starting point.
     
  3. iambrad
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    iambrad Member

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    I bluffed my way through loads of papers in school. That's not to say I didn't do the work, I was just able to do it more quickly using a few tricks. This is what I did....your mileage may vary.

    • Step 1 decide what you want to write about.
    • Step 2 Turn off your monitor and type about it for 5-10 minutes; if you are on a laptop, put a bag or a folder over it to block your view. While you are typing, do not stop. There will come times where you want to think, but don't. Just keep going. If you have to, retype your starting sentence and start it again. under no circumstances should you attempt to edit or delete anything. Much of it will be nonsense, but a good portion will help provide inspiration.
    • Step 3 Review what you wrote. You will very likely find your main topic and several supporting points.
    • Step 5 Find resources that pertain to your subject and read through them.
    • Step 6 Write your essay in one sitting. Don't worry about citations or word count.
    • Step 7 Now that you have a basic essay, go back through and edit. Add citations, and correct any grammar or wording.

    Now, even if you ignore every other step, step 2 is always a valuable tool in any writing. If it helps, choose an opening sentence, think about it, then start writing blind.

    Doing this, you can get through many daunting essays in just a few days, or sometimes even in one session.
     
  4. lavendershy
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    lavendershy Contributing Member

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    I sometimes use a web to plan my essay; after the planning stage, I don't have much trouble putting it down. This largely pertains to persuasive essays, but like thirdwind said, most academic essays are. Even if the assignment isn't strictly persuasive, most teachers like it if the student is willing to think enough to come to conclusions; I haven't had a problem with having to take out persuasive overtones. Here's what web planning looks like:

    1. Condense the question/prompt as much as you can. You want the essence in as few words as possible. Often this is key to writing a good essay. Write your short version of the question down. (i.e. I can go from four lines of King Lear and a paragraph of question to "does wealth help hide sin from justice?")
    2. Think for just a minute about all the stands you could take. Write them down. If possible, don't use any of those; if you could come up with them easily, so can everyone else. Teachers get very tired of reading essays that all argue the same thing with the same evidence.
    3. Make yourself come up with some interesting standpoints. If you can't find any, you can use the views that will be common; make yourself find decently original arguments to support it, though. Write the basic standpoints/conclusions/ideas you could use down in a rough circle around your version of the question.
    4. For each idea you have, think of evidence you could use. Write your evidence around your idea.

    You'll end up with a three-layer spiderweb that lays out everything you could argue and how you could argue it. That makes writing a lot easier.

    If it's more of a facts-based essay (i.e. what ramifications the Boston Massacre had), it can help to write down the thing you're given; then write down everything related to that in some kind of order, whether it's the steps of a process or events on a timeline. Just having the basic facts laid out before you try to start makes everything simpler. Once I have my skeleton, it's generally simple to put on meat, hooking everything together.

    So there's the oh-so-wise perspective of a high school junior. Actually, most of it is advice from various teachers, but you're welcome to try it if you like.

    Cheers,
    lavendershy
     
  5. cmcpress
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    cmcpress Senior Member

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    There is a structure which works on almost all essays from high school to Doctorate thesis.

    1. First paragraph(s) should be an overview of the content of the essay - what your argument is and how you intend to demonstrate it.

    (an overview of the issue - the argument you wish to prove and how you are going to show it).

    2. Your next paragraphs should be a definition of the terms used in the essay. If you're writing about The effect of curtains on the absorption coefficient of non reflective surfaces - define a reflective surface. This may seem in some cases redundant (durr everyone knows what a reflective surface is) but the meat and bones of your essay will hinge upon your definitions:

    example 1:

    (a reflective surface is a material within a room that causes a soundwave (This means you are talking about sound reflective surfaces as opposed to light reflective surfaces) from a given source to change direction or rebound towards the original source. This rebound, or reflection, is caused echo. A large number of echoes creates reverb - a distinct and ghostly sound heard after the original sound transmission has stopped.

    Any given surface will absorb as well as reflect soundwaves.

    The measurement of sound absorption is called "The absorption coefficient". Aborption will attenuate sound at specific frequencies depending upon the material of the reflector and it's shape.

    Similarly the size and frequency content of reverb depends upon the size and shape of the room and the material of it's construction.... and so on
    ).

    example 2:

    Political relatavism is the study of cultural differences across political spectra...

    If it is appropriate you can also define the scope of your argument. So if you are talking about how Pikachu is the best pokemon you could mention that Pikachu is limited and vulnerable to attacks from Water but for the purposes of your argument you are excluding Water monsters from the subject in hand.

    3. The meat - look into specific points regarding your argument - how you came to your definitions and how you test your thesis.

    (referring to example 1 - above you would talk about how you measure room reverb, the equipment used - how you changed the material and this changed the frequency content and length of the reverb. What kind of sound sources you used to measure the changes. How your argument was then applied and the results received).

    4. Conclusion - This is a recap of the results from above and a summary of what this means. It wraps the essay up in a neat package

    In conclusion Pikachu is the best pokemon because he is cute, funny, has more screentime than any other pokemon and can cast lightning bolts.
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can look up essay/paragraph types, like:
    -argumentative
    -cause/effect
    -descriptive
    -giving advantages/disadvantages
    -defining
    -describing stats
    -classification etc etc.

    Most essays are a combination of two or more of these types of writing. Look up how to write correct topic sentences and thesis statements. Check out summarising paragraphs to end your essay as well.

    Also, make sure you completely understand and answer the critieria of the task given to you (avoid irrelevancy), obey wordcount, formatting and presentation rules, punctuate properly, and give correct citations for all your sources, particularly and especially internet hits.

    Plus the other things said above.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    lots of good advice there... but what hasn't been mentioned is that your 'above average' skills still need improving:

    ect.
    persuation
    it kills me, I start
    gladfully
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I write documentation or other things where I don't know where to start, i don't start. I think of things in the middle to do.

    I know I'll have to describe X, somewhere in the middle? I write those paragraphs. I know I'll have to explain how X relates to Y? I write those paragraphs. I keep dancing around on the topic, writing paragraphs without worrying about where they'll fit or how they'll fit together. Usually that eventually warms up the process so that I can start to get a handle on the structure.

    In the end, it's entirely possible that _every single one_ of those paragraphs gets rewritten or even thrown away altogether. But they got me to the point where I _could_ rewrite, so they were worth it.

    ChickenFreak
     

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