Essay Tips from Swanson
Hey…at least it’s more valuable than German currency in 1923.
Step 1: Look at what the question is asking (hint: it’s got a verb and a subject)
- Look for the action word (analyze, C & C, account, support/refute)
- Look for what you're supposed to do the action to (role, level of success, works/beliefs) and for who this belongs to (peasants, women, Renaissance artists)
- Boil it down to the basic nature of the question
Step 2: Get down on paper the rough basics of what you know and look at ways to organize it.
Step 3: Compose a thesis that:
- Responds to the Question
- is a how/why statement
- is organized in the same way you will organize your essay (e.g. "John Calvin believed that the church should take an active role in politics and social reform (body paragraph 1) while Martin Luther felt the church's role in these areas should be much more passive(body paragraph 2)."
Step 4: Write your essay, keeping the following structure in mind:
- Open your introduction with an attention getter, offer some pertinent general information, and then state your thesis. Try not to get hung up here.
- Open your body paragraphs with a topic sentence that mirrors that part of your thesis statement (e.g. "John Calvin's Geneva is an excellent example of his belief that the Church should take and active role in politics and social reform"), then offer your support and analysis. Keep in mind that all of your support and analysis must relate to your thesis statement. If possible, follow the pattern of offering a supporting fact in the first part of the sentence and then analyze it in the second part of the sentence (e.g. "Calvin wanted to replace the singing of bawdy songs in taverns with Psalm reading (support), clearly demonstrating his willingness to reorder the personal lives of his "subjects", even down to their recreational activities (analysis).) Try to end your paragraph with a transitional statement that feeds into the topic of the next paragraph.
- Write a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis, perhaps restating some of your best support and analysis.