Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.
It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim. To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction.
Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third often much less of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.
The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions. This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.
This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end.
If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular. Mapping an Essay. Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds.
The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea. Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material.
Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:. Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. Now that you know what your focus is, you can start finding some information to discuss. If you want top marks, you want some deep, detailed and specific pieces of information.
The top source for finding information will be the resources your teacher provided. These resources were hand picked by your teacher because they believed these were the best sources available our there on the topic. Here are the most common resources teachers provide:. The lecture slides are one of the best resources for you to access.
Lecture slides are usually provided online for you. Find the lecture slides most relevant to your topic. To take the example of our climate change essay, maybe climate change is only discussed in three of the weeks in your course. Flick through those lecture slides and take quick notes on a piece of paper — what are the most important topics and statistics that are relevant to your essay question?
Now, move on to the assigned readings. Your teacher will have selected some readings for you to do for homework through the semester. They may be eBooks, Textbooks or Journal Articles. These assigned readings were assigned for a reason: because they have very important information to read! Next, try to find a few more sources using Google Scholar. This is a great resource for finding more academic articles that you can read to find even more details and ideas to add to your essay.
The point of Step 2 was to gather information. For your essay plan Mind-Map, write the essay question in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it. Then, select the biggest and most important key ideas that you think are worth discussing in the essay.
To decide on these, you might want to look back at the notes you took in Step 2. Last, we need to add detail and depth to each key idea. So, draw more lines out from each key ideas and list:. You need to arrange your topics to decide which to write first, second, third, fourth, and last! Does one key point need to be made first so that the other ones make sense? Do two key points seem to fit next to one another? If so, make sure you list them side-by-side. Then, list them in order.