Arctic Tern

  Chris Hawkes

 Essay Writing
The Essay Title

An essay must focus on the terms of the title throughout. Perhaps this is the most important part of the process. First, if you are choosing your own title, make it as specific as you can. For example, "Discuss the achievement of Chaucer's General Prologue" is vague, and invites an "Everything I know about..." response. "How does Chaucer present the Prioresse?" allows a more focused essay. Discuss your title with your tutor.

Once you have an agreed - or imposed - title, analyse it. Segment it, using a highlighter, to ensure that you cover all that you are asked to do.

"Chaucer is often claimed to be a "good natured" poet. How successfully does Chaucer combine "good nature" with his condemnation of corruption in the General Prologue? Refer in your answer specifically to three pilgrims, including one NOT from the Church."

A dense and wordy question; segmentation highlights the important areas:

"Chaucer is often claimed to be a "good natured" poet. How successfully does Chaucer combine "good nature" with his condemnation of corruption in the General Prologue? Refer in your answer specifically to three pilgrims, including one NOT from the Church."

These then become your areas of focus.

Lastly, write your title down and keep it in front of you as you plan and write. Anything which does not directly address the question is irrelevant, and will attract no marks: worse, it will detract from the thrust of your thesis.

  The drudge

 The Essay Title

 Internet Search and Research

 Brainstorming

 The Linear Plan

 Footnotes and Bibliography

 Redrafting

 Return to CJH's main page

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