When I taught English overseas, I was always impressed with how many of my students had learned to speak good English in a short period of time.
However, while these students’ conversational skills were close to fluent, often their writing skills were awful, and they lacked the ability to write a cohesive, short essay. The main problem was getting them to organize their thoughts.
In my classes I taught two simple rules that must be followed for writing a good essay.
First, be able to tell the main idea of the essay in one sentence, for example, “What I did on my summer vacation.” That one sentence will help you stay focused on the composition’s topic.
Do not write about anything else in your essay other than that one sentence. If you are describing your summer vacation, you can write about your grandparents’ farm that you visited, but do not go into detail about the color and number of the farm animals.
The sentence will also become the title of your composition.
The second rule for writing a good essay is to remember the three parts of any composition: beginning, middle, and end, also known as the introduction, body, and conclusion. Divide these three parts into paragraphs, so your essay will always have at the least three paragraphs.
Your introduction will have two or three sentences, and will tell the reader what you are going to describe. A sentence from your introduction may be “I had many adventures during my summer vacation, and I met many people.”
The second paragraph will be the body, and you will describe your adventures and the people who you met. The body can be many paragraphs.
Finally, your essay’s last paragraph will be your conclusion, and in two to three sentences you will briefly sum up how you felt about the adventures you had and the people you met.
By following these two rules – a topic sentence, and the three parts structure - you will be able to effectively organize your thoughts, and prepare yourself to write strong, organized compositions.