What exactly is an essay? An essay is a piece of writing, especially in prose, in which the writer expresses their opinions on a particular subject. The topic the writer discusses may be anything. It may be very important topic or not so important.
Writing a good essay is one of the most difficult of writing tasks.
There are two situations in which you may have to write an essay – 1) When you have enough time to prepare, and 2) When you have to write an essay without any time for preparation for example, in an exam, or in an essay writing contest, when you get a topic which you have not prepared.
First, let us know how to go about the task, when you have enough time.
For your essay to be good, you need to have
- a thorough knowledge of the topic
- a clear idea of the different aspects of the topic
- dividing into paragraphs the ideas to be discussed – a paragraph for each aspect of the topic
- a wide vocabulary including the vocabulary connected with the topic of the essay, and,
- most importantly, the ability to write it to the required word limit
1 A thorough knowledge of the subject: First of all study the meaning of the topic. Suppose you have to write a three hundred-word essay on the topic, ‘Reality Shows Featuring Children on the TV.’
i) Think, what exactly is ‘a reality show?’ If you do not know what it means look up the dictionary. Then note down all the ideas that you have got about the topic from a) your own knowledge and experience, b) from books, newspapers and magazines, and c) from Google, net and websites, if you have a computer.
Note down in the form of points all the information you have collected about the topic.
Now, think about the topic: what is a reality show on the TV? If you know it, it’s OK. If you don’t know refer to the dictionary. You will find that a reality show is a TV programme showing real events with people who are non-TV / movie actors. Now our topic is, reality shows which feature children, that is, programmes in which children participate. Which age children? Let us say children below the age of ten. We now know what our essay is about. It should discuss what happens to children who participate in them, and who watch them – whether it is good or bad for them. Is the information we have enough for a three hundred-word essay? If we don’t have enough information about it, let us get it from newspapers and magazines. If that is not enough, let us go to Google and the internet.
We now have enough information about the topic.
2 a) Analyze the topic: a) How many kinds of reality shows are there? There are music and dance shows, game shows, knowledge shows, etc. Which of these are good, and which, bad for the children?
b) What do the participating children gain from these shows? (How are the programmes good for them?), and b) What do they lose? How are the programmes bad for them?
3 Frame your thesis: By now you have an idea whether the good and the bad are equal, or whether there is more good than bad or more bad than good. With this idea, you frame your thesis, that is, state your opinion about the subject. For example, after thinking of all aspects of the topic, suppose you think that they do more bad than good to the children , state that clearly and forcefully, in just a sentence or two.
4 The next step is the outline of the essay. That is, a list of points you wish to discuss in the essay. Remember, they must be in the form of points only. The outline may be something like this:
a) Definition of the topic – Define / explain what reality shows are (in the form of points).It may be like this: programmes showing real events in which non-cine/TV actors participate.
b)TV shows showing real events with children as the participants.
c) kinds of shows: music, dance, game, knowledge (quiz, etc) and other shows .
d) Which of the above are OK for children – knowledge and game shows are OK – they help children to get knowledge and skill (from game shows) and prizes (cash and kind) as well.
e) Dance shows and music shows – benefits for children – i) Stage experience ii) self-confidence iii) success – they get to know their abilities and talent iv) the prize money may help some not so rich children with money for their studies.
f) The harsh comments of the judges – lose their self-confidence – they get depressed – they can’t bear the strain, stress and pressure – cases of illnesses and suicides.
g) Most important cause – the greed of the parents – the prize money they get because of their children.
j) Most importantly their studies are affected – their poor performance at school may force them to drop out of school – they may end up without the minimum education – can’t lead a decent life later, and
k) Even if they become experts in their later life, there may not be enough opportunities for all of them in the movies and other shows.
These are the points which you can include in the essay. As the disadvantages appear to be more than the advantages, your thesis at the beginning of this exercise is well supported.
You have done the ground work for the essay. You can begin the essay now.