It’s taken weeks, but you’ve finally got a solid draft of your essay. You’ve spent a lot of late nights with this bad boy, and it’s finally time to hand it in. You’ve read it and re-read it, so what could wrong?
Well, a bunch. Because chances are you have might your “I’m finished” goggles on, which could be making you blind to the mistakes of your first draft.
It’s hard to rewrite when you don’t exactly what you’re looking for. To help, here are some common trouble spots to check before you hand in your essay.
1. The Intro
Assuming you’re writing a formal essay, you should have four basic things in your introduction:
- What and who you’re writing on (i.e. “The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald…” or vice versa)
- Key observations about the work that support your argument
- Your thesis, stated clearly and concisely
- To say the above in three sentences or less
Example: “The excerpt from Pat Barker’s Regeneration is riddled with imagery and ambiguous allusion, which the author uses to explain Burns’ predicament without ever having to blandly state it. The excerpt is thus powerful and long-lasting in the mind of the reader.”
If you’ve covered at least this much in your introduction, writing the rest of it should be simple provided that you know what you’re going to argue.
2. The Meat and Potatoes
Get straight to the point. Avoid being “pretty.”
Being “pretty” in your writing is when you’re not adding to the point. You’re simply upping the word length of your essay. This is not good. Make your paragraphs compact and straightforward. Focus on the message you’re trying to deliver and you’ll be golden.
You can allow initial sentences and transitions between paragraphs to contain some “prettiness” so long as it leads into your meat and potatoes. Think of the “pretty” stuff as embellishments to the meal. Like parsley or cilantro.
3. The Set-Up
This format makes it easy to fly through essays with confidence (and a good mark). It’s only 3 steps and a big part of that whole straightforward thing I was telling you about.
- Lay out your points. More specifically, the points of your arguments. Are they relevant? Are they well-written? Can you group some of them together to avoid repetition? Ask yourself these questions. Your points need to vary, but at the same time, they should correlate and strengthen one another. Divvy up your paragraphs based on the parallels in your points.
- Include quotations! For the love of all that is good, use quotes that complement your points. More on this later.
- Your thesis. Enforce it multiple times. Again. And again. And again. Don’t include anything that contradicts your thesis. More on this later, too.
Take these steps for each paragraph you write. Remember to keep these steps to a simple 1-3 sentences each.
Quotes. They will get you everything you want if you use them properly. Demonstrate to your instructor that you read the book, watched the movie, or whatever your task was, even if you have to paraphrase (sometimes this is just as effective as quoting directly from the source).
Example: “…Achilles was either to live long, quietly, and fruitfully, or die young and brilliantly in battle, remembered for eternity.”
If using a direct quote, never leave it standing on its own. Write transitional text before, after, or on both sides of the quotes. You can even use a semicolon to finish your own idea and lead into a relevant quote.
Show that you know the material! Use your source instead of seeking easy answers online. Use both famous and lesser-known quotes to prove yourself. Show your teacher how smart and resourceful you are (because, well, you are).
This one has a “do” and a “don’t” attached to it. Do repeat your thesis once in a while, since it’s the opinion that you need to enforce, validate, and solidify in your reader’s mind. State it at the end of your intro, at the end of each of the points in your paragraphs, and in your conclusion. Just remember to phrase it differently each time so that you (and your teacher) won’t get bored. Instructors want to see that you’re confident in your thesis and arguments.
But please don’t repeat arguments. Unlike with thesis statements, your reader only needs to read your point once to fully absorb it. For instance, if you’re trying to argue that Lady MacBeth wasn’t at all responsible for King Duncan’s death, don’t claim that she was possessed by evil spirits in every single paragraph.
End your work the way you started it; keep it brief, state the material, mention the writer, use key words of your thesis, and create a good punchline-esque final sentence. This will satisfy the “so what?” question that lingers in your reader’s mind throughout the essay. This final statement should be powerful and grave, not wishy-washy and boring. Make it really stand out.
Okay, so to sum this all up:
- Be brief,
- Stick to the point,
- Follow the 3-step format of point, quotation, and thesis,
- Actually use quotations (creatively), and
- Repeat your thesis.
I wish you the best of luck in all of your essay conquests. Hopefully the pain of essay-writing has now been eased for you, even if only a little bit.
If you have any feedback, extra advice, or want some more clarification on this process, go ahead and comment below!*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.
McCol D. Iles
McCol D. Iles believes in incense, true love, and cinnamon. She loves being alive, gaining knowledge, and being compassionate towards humankind. She dreams of becoming an accomplished writer, psychologist, and ancient historian living happily ever after in an old stone cottage in the Scottish Highlands.
On September 13, 2017 the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) test-fired a Taurus cruise missile in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test. In this video, you can see as an F-15K launch the boxy weapon, which plunges straight through the roof of a practice target, penetrating into the ground below before its main warhead detonates.
For decades, the South Korean military has had to prepare for a conflict in which its cities, especially the capital of Seoul, would be on the receiving end of a North Korean artillery, chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Now, such an onslaught might potentially include nuclear warheads. Though such a scenario must be avoided at all costs, should it occur, it would be vital for South Korean and U.S. forces to destroy these heavily fortified missile and artillery sites as swiftly as possible.
What a War Between America and China Would Look Like.
That’s the mission assigned to the sixty F-15K Slam Eagles in the Republic of Korea Air Force. Based on the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bomber in U.S. Air Force, the Slam Eagles have souped-up sensors and electronic warfare systems, and now are loaded with bunker-busting cruise missiles to blast open North Korean missile silos.
Those weapons could also be employed in an attempt to decapitate North Korean leadership in a fortified bunker, a point the South Korean military surely hoped to illustrate when it released the video.
What a War Between NATO and Russia Would Look Like.
South Korea’s Slam Eagles
The Strike Eagle is a fighter-bomber variant of the F-15 Eagle, loaded with extra weapons pylons, fuel tanks and sensors at the cost of modestly decreased thrust-to-weight ratio and maneuverability. The two-seat jets can still sprint at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound, and can lug an extraordinary 23,000 pounds of weapons, nearly three times the bomb load of a strategic bomber in World War II. On the downside, the large, twin-engine F-15 is much more expensive to operate than, say, a single-engine F-16, though the additional turbofan does contribute to a lower accident rate.
What a War Between China and Japan Would Look Like.
South Korea chose to procure forty F-15Ks in 2002 for $4.2 billion as the first part of a three-phase F-X program to modernize its jet fighter force, beating out the Eurofighter Typhoon, the French Rafale and an earlier variant of the Su-35. Nearly 40 percent of the components were built by Korean firms, including fuselage, wings, and much of the avionics, then were assembled by Boeing in St. Louis, Missouri.
Because the new Slam Eagles came more than a decade after the F-15E entered service, they could be outfitted at the outset with then-new technologies including flat-screen displays in the cockpit that are compatible with night-vision goggles, and a Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System permitting a pilot to acquire aerial targets for short-range AIM-9X missiles merely by pointing his or her head at them.
The Slam Eagle was also one of the first variants of the F-15 to trade out the original F100 engines for F110 turbofans which could generate roughly 10 percent more thrust. You can see the difference in the engine nozzles here.
In 2008 Seoul ordered a second batch of twenty-one F-15Ks for Phase II of the F-X program to replace the F-5B Freedom Fighters it was retiring. (The order included one extra aircraft to fill in for an F-15K which fatally crashed in 2006 when its crew passed out performing a high-G maneuver.) These planes featured Sniper-XR targeting pods, and reverted to F100 PW-229 engines to benefit from parts commonality with the engines on Korea’s KF-16 fighters.
Unlike its American counterpart, the F-15K also boasts an AAS-42 Infrared search-and-track system, allowing the Slam Eagle to stalk aircraft at shorter ranges without turning on its radar. The F-15K also initially benefited from a superior APG-63 (V)1 radar, which boasted a sea-search and target-identification mode to facilitate the F-15K’s use in a naval strike role. However, the U.S. Air Force later began upgrading its F-15E fleet with new APG-82 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars with a decisive edge in resolution and stealth. Though the APG-63’s antenna could be upgraded to an AESA type, it is not clear if and when the ROKAF would pursue the upgrade. This may be because Pyongyang’s air force remains quite obsolete, with only thirty-five MiG-29s purchased in the 1990s standing out as somewhat modern fighters.