It’s more detailed than an essay outline (see question 11 below), and when you draw one up, you need to make sure your essay plan…
What’s particularly useful about drawing up an essay plan before you start writing, is that it acts as a kind of feasibility study for the argument you’re proposing to make.
You should start out with a broad pitch that captures the wider significance of the argument you’re about to make, before zeroing in on a clear thesis statement (a brief precis of your argument and the evidence you’ll use to support it).
Your broad pitch should be relevant to the topic you’re about to discuss, should base its claims to significance on scholarly/critical debates and conversations.
They allow you to cite three or four sources at a time with relatively little disruption to the text (since if you’re summarising a particular trend or position in a field your parenthetical reference will look something like “see Smith 1999; Jones 2002; Thomas 2010”) but you’re unlikely to be referencing ten or more sources at a time (as is common in some scientific disciplines, which are therefore better suited to numbered systems).
All essays require an introduction, a body, and a conclusion, but good structure requires more than just assembling these basic building blocks.
You should avoid starting your essay with a quote from a dictionary definition.
If you’re asked to discuss a specific term, it’s very likely that term has a specific meaning in your field of study that extends far beyond what any dictionary definition covers, and falling back to the dictionary may simply make your work look ill-researched.
Below are the top 25 questions students ask us about essay writing and our answers, plus plenty of links to other useful articles on our blog and on the web.
Hopefully, this material will help get your essay writing off to a great start!