A Cookbook on Writing an Essay—The Post-Research Writing Phase

A Cookbook on Writing an Essay—The Post-Research Writing Phase

If last week’s article on a recipe for essay writing—the research phase—left you asking, “What about the actual writing phase?” then look no further.

I have a strategy that can bolster any student’s essay grades, simply by offering structure to an essay.  This structure means that, for every paragraph you write, you’ll have at least three references, likely all from different sources.  Varied sources are critical to A+ essays, especially for those of us with weaker writing ability.

We all love recipes for success, so how about one for essay writing mastery—for the essay writing post-research phase?

The only ingredients needed for this recipe are a cue cards, elastic bands, scissors, tape, paper, printer, a computer, a university library, and a library article database.

With those elements at hand, here is part two of a cookbook essays—essay writing phase:

You’ve already gathered books and articles, highlighted article sentences to quote, and added sticky notes to pages in books you’ll want to reference in part one, so you’re at the starting block of the race.

Review your thesis statement that you created in last week’s Voice article.  For example, here is a thesis statement: “In the art piece called Horse Set Free, the multiple renditions of sunlight reflecting on the horse through use of a pointillism style [A], the artistic detail on the horse’s weary face [B], and the abuse weathered on its scarred body [C] showed a human element to the horse’s newfound freedom [D], reminiscent of the abolition of the slave trade [E]”

Take each of the points (A, B, C, D, E above) and place them in an outline.  You can use Microsoft Word’s outline view mode.  The outline should look as follows:

  1. Introduction: [insert thesis above],
  2. The multiple renditions of sunlight reflecting on the horse through the use of pointillism had the effect of showing liberation through sunlight while contrast the horse’s long-term suffering.
    1. Introduction to pointillism style
    2. The significance of multiple pointillism renditions.
    3. Sunlight as a metaphor for liberation.
    4. How pointillism captured the horse’s long-term suffering.

That’s just a start.  Fill in each of the other points of the thesis (B, C, D, E) for the body.

  1. Conclusion

If you find you’re repeating similar points in other areas, then consider condensing the repetition into its own section.

Now that you’ve got an outline, download more articles to fill up each of those sections.  For instance, you may need to download and skim five more articles on the significance of multiple pointillism renditions.

But when you fill in the outline, try to fill in each point with a direct quotation along with a full bibliographic reference.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.  Nothing is worse than having to omit a key point because you can’t find its bibliographic reference.

Order your quotations by cutting and pasting in the outline view mode of MS word.

If you only have three citations or fewer for a section, or if all your citations for a section are from one source, search for additional articles online to add substance.

Once your outline is done, then simple switch Microsoft Outline View Mode to regular view mode, and now make sure everything is in complete sentences.

Add an introduction to each quote and a one or few sentence summation after each quote.  For instance, you could write, “Author Peter Wall acknowledges the deep psychological wounds that come from abuse in captivity [introduction].  Wall (2021) states, ‘The captive at times can succumb to mistreatment with fewer and fewer moments of resistance, until the will to live dies.  But once hope is reawakened, even the heaviest trodden spirit can see a return to the will to live, although limited to various degrees by the past tendency to resignation’ (p.  39) [quote].  Wall’s claim suggests the wounds of captivity, when accompanied with reduced resistance to mistreatment, may be healed by hope but still leave a scar [summation].”

Do the same for all the other quotes in each section, ideally stringing them together in an argument that flows.

Be sure to introduce each section itself and conclude each section with a sentence or two or even a paragraph.

By doing this to all of your sections, the paper will write itself.  Plus, you’ll have a multiple of reference resources in each section.

But what if you prefer to use cue cards over Microsoft Word Outline Views?  That can be done easily.  Instead of an outline view, type up all of your quotes along with full bibliographic references in random order.  Be sure to include the general heading for each quote, such as “the abolition of slavery.”  Cut each quote, along with bibliographic reference, and general heading together with a pair of scissors.  Tape each quote onto a cue card and write on the back of the cue card the general heading (I.e., “the abolition of slavery”).

After that, sort them according to the general heading, placed in separate piles.  Then sort each pile further to make the best logical order for each quote in the pile.

If you want, make smaller piles within each pile, writing down both the general heading and the new subheading on a separate cue card and placing it on top of each pile.

Order the piles logically as best as you can.

Place an elastic band around each pile and group them with a larger elastic band for each general heading.

After that, place the general headings in the best logical order.

Fill in any gaps or skimpy references with quotes from additional articles you will download.

The paper, once again, will write itself.  Enjoy.  That is the writing phase of the essay process.

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