Writing a short essay is essentially the same as writing a normal essay with one key difference: length. A short essay should be around 500 words, or one page double-spaced. Because of its brevity, a short essay needs an interesting topic to capture the reader’s attention. It should not be on a complex subject as this might require more explanation. When faced with the difficulty of writing a short essay, the very first step should be to create an outline. This will allow you to organize your thoughts when the topic is large or when you have not developed your argument thoroughly. This should be the first step in writing any essay effectively.
The introduction will be one of the most important parts of your short essay. This should introduce your topic and convey the main idea without going into great detail. As mentioned above, the topic of the short essay should be interesting. The introduction should be an extension of your interesting subject and grab your reader’s attention. This can be done in many different ways such as quotes, a question, or a critical fact. For example, if you are writing an essay on the violence in video games, you might start “Have video games created a generation more prone to aggression and stereotypes?”. A well-written introduction will also contain your main argument, also known as a thesis statement, that sums up your essay in one to two sentences. This should outline your essay without being overbearing to the reader. One of the easiest ways to write a thesis is to break up your main argument into parts and list them in your thesis. This also creates a structure for your body paragraphs which helps out your organization and lets the reader know exactly which assertions are coming next.
The Body paragraphs are the main parts of the essay. This is where you get to develop your argument by analyzing your topic and giving facts. This will be the time to use the research that you’ve done on the topic as you use quotes, numbers, and other articles. Use these to strengthen your argument and as a means to give examples. Make sure these pertain to your topic and not something parallel to avoid confusion from your reader. Your body paragraphs should follow your outline and have cohesion between them. Try not to jump between topics. That will make your argument harder to follow and confuse the reader. One of the easiest ways to go between paragraphs is using transition sentences at the end of your body paragraphs. This sums up your previous idea and connects it with your next idea.
Each paragraph should contain a different argument. In a short essay, developing your argument with a small amount of space to work with can be difficult. Because of this, each argument should be short and concise. Here are some tips for developing a well-written body paragraph in a short essay:
- Be clear and try not to complicate your point by using overly complex words or explanations
- Sometimes understanding the opposing views can help you strengthen your own
- Making sure your arguments flow is more important than ordering them from strongest to weakest
- If possible, discuss your strongest point first as it can help with the brevity of a short essay
Ordering your points from strongest to weakest could help your reader understand your point of view better. Even though this is true, do not sacrifice flow for the possibility to win over your reader. A well thought out argument will convince the reader your in your point of view regardless of order. This is why the outline of your argument is a critical first step.
The first sentence in your conclusion should be a restatement of the thesis. This will connect your introduction and your conclusion as well as remind the reader of your main idea. With short essays, the next step that should follow is a summary of your body paragraphs. This should briefly describe your main points in one to two sentences each. A clear conclusion can help the reader analyze your arguments altogether in one short paragraph. With longer essays, this could also be used as a callback between early arguments which could be pages apart.
After finishing the conclusion, be sure to check your work. Going over your paper can help you catch grammatical errors, syntax errors, and any incorrect sentences that might hurt your argument. Rereading your essay can help you become a better essay writer as the more mistakes you catch, the less you’ll end up making them. Lastly, make sure what you’ve written makes sense. Even a well-written essay can lose its comprehension due to over-editing.
With all three components finished, and your essay edited, you should have a well-written short essay. The most important way to get better at writing short essays is practicing. With more practice, writing essays will become easier, and you can continue with longer and longer papers. Remember, there is no one right way to write an essay. The most important thing is to convince your audience that what you are writing is important. These are just helpful tools to do just that more effectively.