Technique of Writing an Essay
Essay writing is an intelligent exercise. It requires a sound knowledge of the things going on around us as well as the mental grasp and literary acumen to present the facts in a clear style. The word “essay” means “to attempt”‘ Essaying on a subject implies testing or examining it.
The scope of essay-writing is as wide as the world itself. There is no subject from the stars to the dust-heap, which may not be dealt within an essay. Its scope is endlessly diverse. Also the essay manifests the personality of the author. This accounts for its subjective character.
Essay is considered to be the surest test of the writing power and personality of the student, although there are many ways to test the student regarding the understanding of language. It is the most effective test of the ability of the candidate to write clear, simple and direct English. As such, it is made a compulsory question in almost all competitive examinations.
Kinds of Essay
According to the subject-matter and form, essays can be divided under the following heads :
(i) Descriptive Essays : Descriptive essays are those that consist of the description of some place or thing. The description should be clear and pleasant. It must be founded upon close observation and the writer should make an attempt to reproduce the atmosphere in which the object is seen.
(ii) Narrative Essays : The subject-matter of the Narrative essays is the same as that of the narrative proper. It consists of the narration of some event, action or movement. The event may be imaginary or historical or a personal experience of the student or an account of the life of someone else. The candidate may be asked to write about the biographical sketch of a National leader, a journey or a voyage or an incident like a street quarrel or a bus accident.
(iii) Reflective Essays : The aim of the Reflective essay is to test the imagination of the student about a particular subject, like Patriotism, Habits, Essentials of Character, etc. He is to attempt topics of abstract as well as of social, political and domestic affairs. Current issues like, Rising Prices are set to test the imaginative capabilities and the information he has gathered about ‘general issues of public interest. The essay is to be a sincere self-expression of the candidate.
Parts of an Essay
An essay, like any other literary forms has the following parts:
(i) Introduction : The purpose of Introduction is to stimulate generally an interest of the reader in the topic. The general importance of the subject is made enough clear in the outset, so to sustain the interest of the reader upto the end. The opening sentence is often short, captivating and enough descriptive. It is like an electric shock. It must be full of compelling force and vigour.
(ii) History : After the introduction, the history and development of the topic should be taken up. In a short essay, a very brief critical survey or birds-eye-view of the history of the topic may be given. In the case of longer essays, it is absolutely necessary to present a very detailed account of the topic. The attempted history of the topic should show that the writer has up-to-date knowledge of things, and is in a position to draw his own conclusions.
(iii) Body : It constitutes the main part or body of the essay. It should present facts, illustrations and thoughts and reflections of the writers in an orderly and coherent manner. The body should be divided into regular paragraphs, each dealing with one distinct aspect of the subject. The paragraphs should be interlinked with one another and should serve as different stages in the narrative description or the argument.
(iv) Conclusion : The essay should be rounded off with a conclusion. The conclusion of the essay is as important as its introduction. Whereas the opening introduces the subject, the end leaves the final impression on the mind of the reader. It should, therefore, contain the finest, wittiest or most original thought that has occurred to the writer on the subject. There should be a finality and completeness about the end. The last sentence of the essay should have a rhythmic effect as to produce a strong feeling that the topic has finally come to a very satisfactory and natural end.
Practical Hints on Essay Writing
- Read the title carefully. Understand its meaning, implications and scope. Observe any qualifying words and keep yourself within the limits, which these impose.
- Do a little thinking on the subject before you start writing. Note down the points on a piece of paper as they come. Then make a selection and arrange them in the form of an outline.
- Never lose sight of the central thought.
- Increase your vocabulary by wide reading.
- Avoid the following :
— Vague generalisations and sermonising.
— Vulgarised expressions.
— Rhetorical or journalistic phrases.
– Unseemly and careless repitition of the same phrases.
- Divide the essay into paragraphs and adopt a style to the subject and the mood, humourous or grave, in which you are going to treat it.
- Always remember the type of people you are writing for and adopt your style and ideas to their taste and understanding.
- Never forget to revise carefully what you have written.
Length of the Essays
Sometimes students are puzzled with regard to the length of essay. A single well-written page may fetch more marks than an incoherent piece running into scores of pages. Usually a subject decides its own length. It also depends upon the individuality of the candidate and the time at his disposal. But on an average, 500 to 750 words is a fair limit.