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Steps to Writing an Essay

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Tiffany Solod

on 9 March 2017

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Transcript of Steps to Writing an Essay

Created from a Creative Commons License WikiHow page
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License: Creative Commons Uploaded by: Wikivisual
How to Write an Analytical Research Essay
Three stages:
(1) Pre-writing
(2) Writing
(3) Finalizing

Writing any essay can seem daunting, but research and analysis essays are incredibly difficult. Especially if you've never done it before.
Don't worry!
Take a deep breath, buy yourself a caffeinated beverage, and follow these steps to create a well-crafted analytical essay.
Prewriting for Your Essay
1. Understand the objective of an analytical Research essay.
An analytical essay means you will need to present some type of argument, or claim, about what you are analyzing. Most often you will have to analyze another piece of writing or a film, but you could also be asked to analyze an issue, or an idea. To do this, you must break the topic down into parts and provide evidence, either from the text/film or from your own research, that supports your claim.[1]
A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field.
2. Decide what to write about.
Sometimes you will have a free reign assignment, sometimes specific subjects and other times specific prompts.
Read the prompt carefully.
What is the prompt asking you to do?
What is the point or main idea of the prompt?
You have a topic - but you have free reign within the topic.

You will do research on a
poem or song
as well as the writers/performers of the piece.

You may choose from any genre, time-period etc.

A word of
Explore characterization
in the Epic of Beowulf
3. Brainstorm.
You may not immediately know what your thesis statement should be, even once you've chosen your topic. That's okay! Doing some brainstorming can help you discover what you think about your topic. Consider it from as many angles as you can.[2]

Research can also assist in this endeavour.
Look for repeated imagery, metaphors, phrases, or ideas.

Things that repeat are often important.
See if you can decipher why these things are so crucial.
Do they repeat in the same way each time, or differently?
How does the text work?
If you're writing a rhetorical analysis, for example, you might analyze how the author uses logical appeals to support her argument and decide whether you think the argument is effective.
If you're analyzing a creative work, consider things like imagery, visuals in a film, etc.
If you're analyzing research, you may want to consider the methods and results and analyze whether the experiment is a good design.
A mind map can be helpful to some people. Start with your central topic, and arrange smaller ideas around it in bubbles. Connect the bubbles to identify patterns and how things are related.
Good brainstorming can be all over the place. In fact, that can be a good way to start off!
Don't discount any ideas just yet.
Write down any element or fact that you think of as you examine your topic.
4. Come up with a thesis statement.
The thesis statement is a sentence or two that summarizes the claim you will make in your paper.
It tells the reader what your essay will be about.
write a vague or obvious thesis such as "Revenge is a central theme in Beowulf."
make a specific argument such as "Beowulf explores different styles of vengeance in the Anglo-Saxon age, contrasting the dragon's honorable retribution with the response of Grendel's mother."
This is an analytical thesis because it examines a text and makes a particular claim.
"If one focuses solely on the monster Grendel in the famous epic poem “Beowulf”, then these models show unconscious sexuality in the Heorot mead hall, Grendel's Oedipus love for its mother, and the need of castration from a father figure, Beowulf. All of which make Grendel into the monster he is."

The claim is "arguable," meaning it's not a statement of pure fact that nobody could contest. An analytical essay takes a side and makes an argument.

In the case of the thesis shown the slide before, the argument is that Grendel has an "Oedipus" love for its mother meaning incestuous. This argument was made but there is no pure proof anywhere that this was exactly the case in the epic.
Make sure your thesis is narrow enough to fit the scope of your assignment. "Revenge in Beowulf" could be a PhD dissertation, it's so broad.

It's probably much too big for a student essay. However, arguing that one character's revenge is more honorable than another's is manageable within a shorter student essay.[4]
Unless instructed to write one, avoid the "three-prong" thesis that presents three points to be discussed later. These thesis statements usually limit your analysis too much and give your argument a formulaic feel. It's okay to state generally what your argument will be.
5. Find supporting evidence.
You will work with primary and secondary sources, such as other books or journal articles.
Sources required: your text, 2-3 scholarly journals or articles, 2-3 contemporary research items.
Good evidence supports your claim and makes your argument more convincing. List out the supporting evidence, noting where you found it, and how it supports your claim.
Example of supporting evidence:
Grendel could also be seen to try to punish those partaking in any sexual acts as he himself cannot take part in them. It states in the poem on line 166-­168 that Grendel “took over Heorot, haunted the glittering hall after dark, but the throne itself, the treasure­seat, he was kept from approaching; he was the Lord’s
outcast.” This line could be read that Grendel is not allowed to indulge in intercourse, which the word “treasure­seat” could be a symbol for, and therefore Grendel takes out his rage and frustrations elsewhere since he cannot have this great gift.
- Tiffany J. Williams- Solod
: ignore or twist evidence to fit your thesis.

: adjust your thesis to a more nuanced position as you learn more about the topic.
6. Make an outline.
Outlines are essential to planning the STRUCTURE of your essay.
An outline will help structure your essay and make writing it easier.
Be sure that you understand how long your essay needs to be.
While some teachers are fine with the standard "5 paragraph essay" (introduction, 3 body paragraphs, conclusion), many teachers prefer essays to be longer and explore topics more in-depth. Structure your outline accordingly.
If you're not quite sure how all your evidence fits together, don't worry! Making an outline can help you figure out how your argument should progress.
You can also make a more informal outline that groups your ideas together in large groups. From there, you can decide what to talk about where.
Your essay will be as long as it needs to be to adequately discuss your topic.

A common mistake students make is to choose a large topic and then allow only 3 body paragraphs to discuss it.

This makes essays feel shallow or rushed. Don't be afraid to spend enough time discussing each detail!
Writing your Essay
1. Write your Introduction
Your introduction should give your reader background information about your topic.
Try to make your introduction engaging but not too overzealous.
Avoid summarizing the prompt--it’s best to simply state your argument.
Also avoid dramatic introductions (beginning an essay with a question or exclamation is generally best to avoid).
In general, do not use the first (I) or second (you) person in your essay.
State your thesis, generally as the last sentence in the first paragraph.
2. Writing body paragraphs
Each body paragraph should have:
1) A topic sentence
2) An analysis of some part of the text
3) Evidence from the text that supports your analysis and your thesis statement.
A topic sentence tells the reader what the body paragraph will be about.
The analysis of the text is where you make your argument.
The evidence you provide supports your argument. Remember that each claim you make should support your thesis
Example topic sentence
: The key to differentiating between the two attacks is the notion of excessive retribution.

Example analysis:
Grendel's mother does not simply want vengeance, as per the Medieval concept of ‘an eye for an eye.’ Instead, she wants to take a life for a life while also throwing Hrothgar’s kingdom into chaos.

Example evidence:
Instead of simply killing Aeschere, and thus enacting just revenge, she “quickly [snatches] up” that nobleman and, with him “tight in her clutches,” she leaves for the fen (1294). She does this to lure Beowulf away from Heorot so she can kill him as well.

The formula "CEE" may help you remember:


Whenever you present a claim, make sure you present evidence to support that claim and explain how the evidence relates to your claim.
3. Know when to quote or paraphrase
means that you take the exact text and, placing it in quotation marks, insert it into your essay.
Quoting is good when you use the precise wording of something to support your claim.
Make sure that you use the correct form of quotation, depending on if you are using MLA, APA or Chicago style.

on the other hand, is when you summarize the text.
Paraphrasing can be used to give background or compress a lot of details into a short space.
It can be good if you have a lot of information or would need to quote a huge portion of text to convey something.
Example of a quote:

Instead of simply killing Aeschere, and thus enacting just revenge, she “quickly [snatches] up” that nobleman and, with him “tight in her clutches,” she leaves for the fen (1294).

Example of a paraphrased sentence:
The female Grendel enters Heorot, snatches up one of the men sleeping inside it, and runs away to the fen (1294).
4. Write your conclusion
Your conclusion is where you remind your reader of how you supported your argument.
Some teachers also want you to make a broader connection in your conclusion.
This means that they want you to make a ‘bigger world connection’.
This could mean stating how your argument affects other claims about the text, or how your claim could change the view of someone reading the text you analyzed.
introduce a completely new argument in your conclusion.

expand beyond your thesis statement by discussing its implications or wider context.
Example conclusion

The concept of an ‘eye for an eye’ was very present in the early Medieval world. However, by comparing the attacks of both Grendel's mother and the dragon, the medieval world’s perception of righteous vengeance versus unjust revenge is made clear. While the dragon acts out in the only way he knows how, Grendel's mother attacks with evil intent.
Example conclusion with a ‘bigger world connection’:

The concept of an ‘eye for an eye’ was very present in the early Medieval world. However, by comparing the attacks of both Grendel's mother and the dragon, the medieval world’s perception of righteous vengeance versus unjust revenge is made clear. While the dragon acts out in the only way he knows how, Grendel's mother attacks with evil intent. As we saw from the study of other characters, these portrayals may tie into an early Medieval perception that women had greater potential for evil.
Finalizing the essay
1) Proofread your essay for spelling or grammar mistakes.
2) Read your paper out loud
3) Check for proper spelling, grammar, etc.
4) Check rubric with paper & grade yourself
5) Peer-edit workshop
Analytical research paper:

The analytical research paper often begins with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question) on which he/she has taken no stance.
Such a paper is often an exercise in exploration and evaluation.

For example, perhaps one is interested in the Old English poem
. He/She has read the poem intently and desires to offer a fresh reading of the poem to the academic community.

Here is an example question: How should one interpret the poem Beowulf?
A student would then research and come to the following conclusion:
Beowulf is a poem whose purpose it was to serve as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh-century monastic communities.

Though this topic may be debatable and controversial, it is not the student's intent to persuade the audience that their ideas are right while those of others are wrong. Instead, the goal is to offer a critical interpretation of primary and secondary sources throughout the paper--sources that should, ultimately, address the particular analysis of the topic. The following is an example of what a thesis statement may look like once a student has completed his/her research.

Though Beowulf is often read as a poem that recounts the heroism and supernatural exploits of the protagonist Beowulf, it may also be read as a poem that served as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh-century monastic communities found in the Danelaw.
This statement does not negate the traditional readings of Beowulf; instead, it offers a fresh and detailed reading of the poem that will be supported by the student's research.

It is typically not until the student has begun the writing process that his thesis statement begins to take solid form. In fact, the thesis statement in an analytical paper is often more fluid than the thesis in an argumentative paper. Such is one of the benefits of approaching the topic without a predetermined stance.
NEW songs or poems will be harder to research and find valid, scholarly sources
You may want to go back at LEAST 10 years. If you are having a problem picking something - see me - I will assist.
7. Proper mla format, proper research, proper citations
Go to this website now:
1. Click on the tab that says "Research & Citation"
2. Click on "MLA Style"
3. Click on "MLA Overview and Workshop"

Welcome to the OWL Workshop on MLA Style.
This workshop will introduce you to the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style for writing and formatting research papers. To get the most out of this workshop, you should begin with the introductory material below, which covers what MLA Style is, why it is used, and who should apply this style to their work. Then you are invited to browse through the OWL's various handouts on different aspects of MLA Formatting and Citations standards, both as sources appear in-text and in final reference page.
Contributors:Kristen Seas, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2016-08-05 01:30:36
What is MLA Style?

MLA Style establishes standards of written communication concerning:
formatting and page layout
stylistic technicalities (e.g. abbreviations, footnotes, quotations)
citing sources
and preparing a manscript for publication in certain disciplines.
Why Use MLA?
Provide your readers with cues they can use to follow your ideas more efficiently and to locate information of interest to them
Allow readers to focus more on your ideas by not distracting them with unfamiliar or complicated formatting
Establish your credibility or ethos in the field by demonstrating an awareness of your audience and their needs as fellow researchers (particularly concerning the citing of references)
Seas, Kristen, and Allen Brizee. "Welcome to the Purdue OWL." Purdue OWL: MLA Overview and Workshop. The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University, 05 Aug. 2016. Web. Jan. 2017.
General Guidelines of Formatting an MLA Paper:
Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt.
Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).
Use your Sample Template in Google Docs!!! The only thing you have to do is type in your information & essay - other than that, do not mess with the format AT ALL!!!
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)
How to Cite your research using MLA Format:

Yes, you can use a generator, but you have to make sure it follows the MLA guidelines in Owl at Purdue - look at the toolbar menu to the left & click on "MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources"
Everything has a specific way of being cited now - even a "TWEET!!!" --- Yes... that's right... we can now do research and include someone's Twitter rampages...
(Not a real tweet - it is a joke about Shakespeare)
Proper Research & plagiarism
First and foremost...
Also used information from Owl at Purdue
Full transcript