Sage Sarah: Essays

Guess what Peeps? I’m going to bestow upon you some writing wisdom on this fine day. Essays! They suck, common knowledge. You probably still won’t want to write one after this, but hopefully, it will be a little less painful. So strap in folks, here we go!

1. Break It Down

No, I am not telling you to start dancing, although dance breaks are not out of the question in this house. Before you start writing, break it down into manageable parts. I will admit, sometimes I just jump right into it and start typing, but believe me, it is always better to organize first. An essay is just a collection of pieces like a puzzle.

First, how many pages are required? You’ll need about 3 well-written paragraphs per a full page, maybe 4 depending on length.  Write the introduction and conclusion and you just knocked off two paragraphs. Say you need 4 pages, that’s about 12 paragraphs, 10 if you already have the introduction and conclusion written. Now, each paragraph is going to be one idea, organize all of your points and ideas in a way that flows well and elaborate on each.
A 4-page essay just became 10 paragraphs and far less daunting. You’re welcome.

2. Paragraphs

As much as we hate writing them, imagine you had to read 30 of them in one sitting. Yeah, I don’t think teachers are riding the happy town rainbow train either, so please make the dang thing at least pleasant to the eye. Don’t make paragraphs a mile long! Readers respond better to shorter paragraphs!  

While it’s up to opinion, paragraphs should be around 5-6 well-developed sentences. However, as I am not the paragraph queen; they can be longer! When I say well developed, I mean they need to make sense. Again, break it down. The first sentence should present the idea of said paragraph. The next few sentences are your facts that back up your idea. The last sentence should not only flow understandably into the next paragraph, but it should also somewhat close the last.

I mentioned the flow of your essay before, this means that your ideas should be arranged in such a way that each paragraph has some sort of connection to the last. If I’m writing about the Pacific Ocean I don’t want to immediately jump from water temperature straight into plant life.

Try this instead:

End of the last paragraph:
Water along the Southern Coast reaches warmer temperatures in the summer months, about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. (Yes, I did look that up.)

Start of the next:
These temperatures are a welcome home to some of the many native plants that call the Southern Coast home. (Continue on with plant life paragraph.)

3. Topics

It can be particularly daunting when teachers allow us to choose what we want to write about. It’s like we’re suddenly kindergartners who can’t function without solid, clear instructions. Don’t panic! Instead, I want you to start thinking about things that bother you. Not just in an angry way, maybe something sad or concerning.

The more passionate you feel about the topic, the more inclined you’ll feel to write about it. Have you ever gotten so upset about something that you just had to rant about it? Angrily text incoherent messages to the group chat for an hour. Great! Take all that emotion and make it into a structured essay. Like you’re politely yelling. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with some sort of solution to the problem while you’re at it.

4. Revising

You’ve got your very infuriating essay all written up. Do you just hand it in? NO! Stop that! First of all, READ THAT THING OUT LOUD! Sentences sound so much different out loud than in your head. It’s like when something sounds really funny in your head, but as soon as you actually say it everyone gives you that look. Sentences can very easily sound right when you read it but really make no sense at all.

Also, a big thing, don’t be afraid to cut things out if you don’t feel it fits. You might have to rework it a bit for word requirements, but one bad part can mess up the entire flow of the essay. If it’s not working, cut it out and try something else. Maybe you just need to change it up a little. Finally, I would suggest rereading fully every time you make a decent sized change, just rereading the paragraph doesn’t always give you the full idea of how a piece fits in the whole puzzle.

Well, Peeps! We have reached the end of yet another journey on this voyage of wisdom. I hope this helps make writing seems less intimidating. I know I’m lucky to have writing come very easily to me. To those who find it difficult or just plain hate it, soldier on my fellow comrades! For school is a war and essays are a battle, each battle won brings us closer to our prize. Which apparently is a degree…. and then more school…. Oh….