Today as I promised in our last lesson. We’re going to look at how to write a good essay and Although this essay can be applied at almost any level For the purposes of this talk, we’re going to assume that it’s at a university level now.
One of the most important things about essay writing is your preparation your research at A University level there are many tools at your disposal many of them accessible through the internet so use them but don’t. Don’t pooh-pooh the value of books on you Books are our lifeblood and you need to learn at the earliest possible stage how to skim Through a book how to read a book quickly for example If we take one of these things there’s a book about her former British prime minister. All the exciting information is going to be about two-thirds of the way through the book.
So if you have to read this book and let’s say one hour please don’t start at the forward or the introduction because that’s really just pandering to the Brilliance of the writer (John Major not Norman!!). It’s hits all pompous rubbish the actual weight the information is going to be about two-thirds of the way through the book. This is the same with an academic book with a novel in fact with any form of literary writing the Important bit of information and in your essay is going to be about two-thirds of the way through the actual piece. When you’re looking at when you’re looking for research You should think seriously about the resources that are available to you on the internet? You’ve got things like JsTor. Which is or PDf for the most parts of therefore a little bit slow Lexis, Nexis, Eric CQ researcher? University Databases, but Also, make sure that you’re looking at primary as well as secondary Sources the primary sources are very valuable the secondary sources are equally valuable. Useful to know what everybody is saying about your particular subject But make sure you do this quickly the next thing you need to look at is analysis your analysis of why somebody says something because Everybody has a bias Everybody has a particular axe to grind. Look carefully at the evidence that is presented for a particular Viewpoint Look at the claims that are made by the author identify his argument or her argument and the some Shion’s be careful of Generalizations things which are out of date and non sequiturs. Check also whether or not the logic works as we look particularly for a thing called the logical fallacy I’m going to speak in the in a few lessons about a thing called the fallacy of Authority, but that equally is important here.
Don’t accept what somebody says simply because they shout louder Look at the Evidence point that I would like to make Is the value of what I call the crunch? But some people might call this the thesis some people bizarrely might call this the synthesis if their following is a philosophical approach Where you have thesis? antithesis, and then synthesis um but essentially the reason I call this the crunch is because it’s the weight of Your essay, it’s the bit that packs the punch. Maybe we should call it punch rather than crunch. Anyway that that’s the bit that you’re focusing on if you don’t know what you are going to write in your crunch or your thesis or whatever you want to call it then really you shouldn’t be writing the essay You need to know before you start writing What’s your main point? What your main focus is going to be and finally. Before we look at the little film let me just reiterate please Plan plan plan there is nothing more important than a plan and a plan Can be done in literal really one minute all you have to do is focus on your crunch And then hold back make sure you don’t say anything about that until you get there Let’s listen to what we had to say about two years ago and first of all we’re going to listen to The wise advice of the turkey an essay is about a presentation of not only your ideas But also the ideas you’ve acquired which prove that you understand the subject When we’re thinking about the essay? We’re particularly thinking about these brief essays, which we write in examinations Which are going to last what three course of an hour, but the same principles will also work by extension simply by expanding What here we’re going to refer to as paragraphs so an essay is made up of a series of units let’s say five units we’re going to write them down one two three four Five and we might call these paragraphs unit one would be the intro Duction and unit five would be the con clue conclusion units two and three paragraphs two and three are Those paragraphs where you are going to demonstrate to the reader that you know what you’re talking about these paragraphs Need to establish that everything is balanced so for example in an argumentative essay. Maybe paragraph or two paragraph two would be the reasons for The preposition in paragraph three would be the reasons against the proposition but There’s a certain leeway here maybe paragraph two would be your main reasons for and your main reasons against in paragraph three would be your subsidiary reasons for and against Now there is only one Way to write an essay and that is to plan it and the plan the important bit of the plan Is not necessarily about everything that is in the essay? I’ve seen some plans where people have written so much they might just will have written the essay anyway. The plan is about what you don’t say about what you’re not going to say at the big The plan is about getting your main ideas your best ideas on paper and then saving them and saving them for the crunch paragraph for Paragraph four is where you establish very clearly that maybe some of the points. In paragraph two or three are not points you agree with You also maybe add your own special bit of information it is that bit of information Which is so important which is so vital to your essay, and which is vital to your getting the good mark at the end paragraph for the crunch Is probably going to be your longest paragraph? It’s going to be the paragraph where you back up your facts with good quotations going to be the paragraph Where you present your argument in a clever? logical Ordered way each paragraph that you write isn’t a complete idea we could take a metaphor like cromwell in the battle of Naseby Which is just around the corner from where I live you might hide some of your ideas But you might hold back your crunch but you advance with discipline the Paragraphs are the blocks as you develop your essay. You’re building up your army like a battlefield Now a point about some About length here, just very quickly paragraphs 1 and paragraphs 5 are probably going to be quite brief paragraph 1 you establish. How you intend to answer? the question paragraph 5 follows naturally from the crunch Paragraph 5 is exactly what it says on the bottle it is the conclusion of all this discussion if you want to start in paragraph 5 making a new discussion if you want to start a new Idea you might as well write a new essay It’s a waste of your time to add anything new to the parapet or paragraph 5 paragraph. 5 Concludes what you’ve been writing. It follows, naturally Paragraph 4 is your argumentative paragraph paragraph 4 is what you’ve been waiting for now Look, it’s exactly like the situation where you get into an argument with one of your friends or indeed. Maybe not one of your friends you want to say there’s no point in going in going on to the offensive right at the beginning and battering some Ridiculous Childish, silly You listen very politely to what somebody else has got to say? Oh yes? I understand and you reason with them how? Clever your points are how wise is your is your position? but Paragraph four one two three reasons why your position is wrong and bang You flawed them you’ve destroyed them you’ve established your own point of view very calmly and very brilliantly by conceding that they also had a point of view too, but that it was wrong we can say something later about how you set out your Essay and how for example you are going to fulfill the requirements of the system.
Let’s just recap a few of those points that we made in the film and The first one which seems to have caused a lot of problems Is the idea of the introduction in fact quite a number of people have written to me since seeing that film? To ask me how do I write an introduction? How do I write the best introduction? I thought this is a very strange question Until I looked on the internet to find there’s a lot of people on the internet advising that an introduction should be Something that captures the attention of the reader An introduction should be something that you spend a lot of time and effort thinking about well Frankly in my experience you don’t have that much time or effort number one.
But number two and this is more important Your average teacher the person who’s generally going to be reading this essay and marking it can Generally survive a few sentences of an introduction They are not going to fall asleep or lose interest after two or three sentences The area where you really need to keep their attention is once the essay has started you need to pay particular attention to the way that you present your arguments in paragraphs two and three and particularly in the crunch so don’t get Worried about the introduction don’t try to be George orwell if you are spectacular. But if you are not, please don’t worry about trying to say something original There’s not that much that you can say that is truly original that’s point one point two, please take the opportunity of using that introduction to Fashion your essay in the way that you want it to be read So if the question is perhaps a little bit vague By all means use the introduction to make it specific Set out your stall Indicate what you intend to do, but do so succinctly don’t spend too much time on it the introduction again Let me repeat should be brief and the conclusion again. Let me repeat should be brief if you’re going to spend a lot of time on either the introduction or the conclusion. Really, you’re wasting time Your time is best spent on that fourth Paragraph on the crunch. There is a view particularly in France that the conclusion should hint that there is more to be said if You want to do this by all means do but don’t spend too much time on it if there’s more to be said frankly, I would ask why haven’t you said it a final point That we might say before we finish this lesson is about language now many of you may have Undergone the rigors of the sat test and you’ve learned all these extraordinary words But be careful. I’m not saying don’t use extraordinary words extraordinary words are wonderful but be careful that you really know how to use them and that you’re not going to misuse them there is nothing worse than seeing the misuse of a word like ease so tarik or Excoriate these words have a perfectly good and valuable meaning we don’t want it to be Messed up by somebody who’s just showing off? that’s the first point here the second point probably we use to back this up because what is better to have lots of words that nobody understands in your essay or To explain something which is very complicated in the language that an intelligent five-year-old or seven-year-old might actually? Understand I would always opt for that option I would always say please try and write clearly in a way that an intelligent child Would understand you it’s much cleverer to be able to explain something complicated in simple language Than to make something that is simple seem really complex. You are not working for some Strange dictatorial bureaucracy, you are trying to explain something