A good way to think about college writing is like giving your professor a tour of your hometown. But in this case, your hometown is states’ rights, or greenhouse gasses, or Shakespeare.
The biggest similarity these two things share is that if you know your subject matter, or city, well enough, you can cast it in whichever light you’d like – safe, unsafe, impactful because of the characterization of Romeo. It all depends on where you take the reader, or visitor.
The key to getting your reader to agree with your thesis is evidence. Choose three or four points that best support your opinion and lay out each in the form of a body paragraph, explaining why exactly it has anything to do with your opinion. You can think of each body paragraph as the commentary a tour guide would give of the beaches, food, and sports teams that make their city great.
Keep this metaphor in mind, as well as these tips, as mid-semester due dates inch closer and you’ll have an easier time getting your thoughts on paper
Creating an outline is the best first step you should take when writing an essay. It is essentially the “roadmap” for your paper and will keep you from getting lost.
Keep it simple
For essays less than five pages in length (as they usually are for professors who don’t enjoy grading for days on end) the simple format of introduction, three or four supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion that reiterates the thesis is always a solid choice.
Tie it all back
You wouldn’t show off your city’s landfill if you were trying to impress someone. Don’t include anything in your paper that doesn’t, in some way, support your thesis.
Make sure the evidence you are using to support your thesis is the best possible evidence. The better the points you use are, the more your paper will tend to write itself, letting the facts do the talking.
Writer’s block is like the detour your “tour bus” will have to take every now and then. Whenever it comes up, refer back to your outline and revise your plan. The best fixes are usually doing more research, re-structuring the paragraphs, or tweaking the thesis.
Harry Chang is the college blogger for ACI Specialty Benefits and is currently enrolled in the English program at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo.