Unicorn Pen
Creativity is stimulated by wrestling with form. The essay is both the easiest and the most structured writing form. Any letter, email, memo or paper you write is an essay -- "an attempt at words." The better you build the basics and the structure of your essay, the more effective an attempt it will be.
The basics of the essay are the same as the basics of fiction writing:
The sharper the point of an essay, the further it will penetrate. I don't mean you all have to dip your pens in acid. I mean it is easier to write an effective essay on one central idea you want to communicate to a specific audience than on everything you want to tell everybody. If you choose to write about encyclopedias, set a theme like "what an encyclopedia is meant to do" or "what an encyclopedia can't do" or "my first experience with an encyclopedia" -- don't describe everything contained in the Britannica and how each presentation has affected Western culture and history since its publication.
The traditional structure of an essay or a speech (which is so similar I am lumping my speeches in here with my essays) has been described as:
  1. Tell them what you're going to tell them;
  2. Tell them;
  3. Tell them what you told them.
Another traditional structure has been described as:
  1. Thesis
  2. Antithesis
  3. Synthesis
Or, in other words:
  1. Tell them what you think;
  2. Tell them what the other guy thinks;
  3. Tell them why you're right.
Another structural method is Threes:
  1. Choose three points you want to make.
  2. For each of those points, create three strong sentences ("sound bites").
  3. Structure the rest of your essay (or speech) around that backbone.
I like to write essays working backward and forward:
  1. Where to I want to end? What point do I want to make, what action do I want the reader to take?
  2. Where am I starting from? Who am I addressing and where am I meeting them?
  3. Now how do I get from here to there?
My Essays
Your Essays
Unicorn pen
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