Essay Writing Style
Writing essays is not easy. A lot of work is required in terms or reading, research, planning, writing, editing and proofreading before you can turn in an essay. Unfortunately, getting the content right is not all there is to it. While some essays require a specific style, all essays have to meet a certain minimum requirement.
The first is to maintain a level of formality. In daily life, you talk to your teachers in one way, “Good Morning,” and to your friends in another: “Sup bro?” When writing your essay, stay formal and professional all the time. That includes:
- Avoid getting emotional: This means staying calm, level headed and objective about the topic, no matter what your personal opinions might be. You need to work with the facts even if it is something you feel strong about, be it religion, politics or certain cultural values. By avoiding emotion, you will not come across as angry, condescending or rude, but as an individual making an objective assessment of a given situation.
- Avoid Personal References: “I think,” “I feel,” “In my opinion,” or any sentence with the word “I” should not make its way in to your essay. Remember, that it is an academic essay, not an opinion/editorial piece. Using “I” in such an essay undermines the strength of any argument no matter how good your supporting evidence might be. However some sentences do not “sound right” unless you have the “I” in it. In these few exceptional situations, leave it because it is better to sound self-centered than incomprehensible.
Make sure that you use the right words. A thesaurus can be helpful in finding the right words, but you must remember that synonyms have subtle differences in meaning that makes them unique. Random substitution will only make your essay incomprehensible. You are better off using a dictionary to find the right word to convey the meaning you want.
Finally, vary the lengths of your sentences. Long, multi-clause sentences in rapid succession give the reader a feeling of pompous sophistication. Short sentences can give a sense of breathless, childlike simplicity. The key is to vary sentence length to give your prose a sense of rhythm.
Writing essay style in a nutshell: Formality, avoiding emotion, avoiding personal reference, using the right diction and varying your sentence lengths. Get this right and you are about a third of the way to a top scoring essay.