Starting out

Before you begin writing you need to gather evidence, just like a detective would.  A detective can't accuse and convict someone of a crime unless they have the necessary evidence to prove that the criminal is guilty.  They spend hours searching for clues, interviewing suspects, and running tests before they can make any conclusions.  Likewise, a writer needs to have an idea of what they are trying to prove in their essay before they start writing it.  This is why good writers need to follow these steps to be successful:


  1. Read your sources carefully (you will be able to write well if you do it at the last minute).
  2. Look for common themes or symbols in the books you are reading.
  3. Take notes on interesting quotations that show the themes, symbols or other elements of writing that you have noticed in your books.
  4. Divide your quotes up into different categories (such as symbols, themes, charaterization, figurative language, etc.)
  5. Decide which elements of writing you have the most interesting examples for and then decide what points you want to make.
  6. Once you have narrowed down your examples you can then develop your thesis statement.
  7. Ideally, your essay should be organized in the following manner: 


            Paragraph 1: Introduction  (with a general statement about your topic, background information

               about your books, and your thesis statement);


              Paragraph 2: First Argument (with a topic sentence, your quotes, and an

                explanation of their relevance);


            Paragraph 3: Second Argument (with a topic sentence, your quotes, and an explanation of their



            Paragraph 4: Third Argument (with a topic sentence, your quotes, and an

                explanation of their relevance) 


            Paragraph 5: Conclusion (restate your thesis and end with a rhetorical

               question or thought-provoking idea for the reader to think about)



 Of course, you might have more than three arguments, but you should have no less than three to make your essay really strong. Usually, you should use your second strongest argument first, your weakest argument second and your strongest argument last to make a strong impression.


Your essay should be written in third person (we, they), never in first person (I, my, me).