Components of an Effective Essay
• Title. Does the title focus the discussion of the essay? Does it add information and hook the reader’s attention? Does it motivate the reader to begin the essay?
• First Sentence. Does it focus the discussion? Is it precise and dynamic? Does it hook the reader’s attention?
• Introduction. Does the introduction supply necessary background, context, and orientation needed to begin the discussion? Does the introduction move swiftly and decisively to the thesis statement or to the summary discussion? Does it motivate the reader to keep reading? Have you answered the reader’s first questions: “What is the order of information priority? Where am I going in this essay?”
• Thesis statement. Does the thesis statement provide focus and momentum for the discussion/argument? Is it specific and qualified – or is it too vague and generalized?
• Definition and discussion of main concepts and terms. Are key terms and concepts presented at the necessary time? Are they defined and explained and developed adequately?
• Summary. Does the writer give the reader all the necessary background and context needed to understand the argument or to follow the summary material? Has the writer presented information in a logical, sequential order? Are items prioritized and explained?
• Argument from examples. Has the writer included apt examples to clarify important items of discussion? Are the examples fully explained and developed? Are relevant connections to ideas, concepts, or other examples made explicit and clear?
• Quotation / Paraphrase. Are quotations properly selected and placed? Do the quotations integrate with the writer’s prose? Has the writer paraphrased effectively? Does the writer avoid plagiarism? Are sources and texts cited?
• Structure / Logic. Is the essay logical? Does the overall structure provide clarity and focus? Can the reader understand the priority of ideas and the connections between ideas and examples? Does the essay’s internal structure support the thesis? Has the writer provided a “roadmap or signposts” for the reader? Does the writer keep the thesis or Main Point in view?
• Appropriate formatting. Is the overall formatting of the document reader-friendly? Does it support communication of the ideas in the document? Does the overall “look and feel” motivate a reader to read the document?
• Development. Has the writer taken time to adequately develop the relevant ideas and points of discussion? Has the writer answered the reader’s questions or has the writer forced the reader to do the work of interpretation and analysis? Are paragraphs structured logically; are they adequately developed?
• Transition. Are transitions clear? Has the writer answered the question: “what does the reader need to know next?”
• Conclusion. Is the conclusion dynamic, clear, persuasive, and inclusive?
• Sentence Clarity. Are sentences clear and concise? Are sentences free from wordiness, ambiguity, bloated syntactical confusion, and/or grammatical errors?
• Word Choice. Has the writer used the “right word in the right place at the right time”?
• Punctuation. Is the document punctuated correctly?
• Proofreading. Has the document been proofed for typos and other boo boos?
• Stylistic Devices / Poise. Is the overall style and “voice” of the essay pleasing to the reader? (This is perhaps the result of all the other bullet points.)
When elements in a sentence are parallel in meaning, they should be parallel in grammatical structure. If you follow this rule, you will write precise and forceful sentences that say what you want to say without ambiguity or confusion. Consider the following examples:
Awkward: People begin to feel as though they have no faces and insignificant. (Adverb clause not parallel to adjective.)
Parallel: People begin to feel faceless and insignificant.
Awkward: As the forest lives, decays, and is devoured by itself, it spawns exotic creatures. (Active verbs not parallel to passive verbs)
Parallel: As the forest lives, decays, and devours itself, it spawns exotic creatures.
Awkward: With the abolition of authority and when the individual is isolated, liberty becomes a universal fetish. (Prepositional phrase not parallel to adverb clause.)
Parallel: With the abolition of authority and with the isolation of the individual, liberty becomes a universal fetish.
Awkward: It is easier to love humanity as a whole than loving one’s neighbors. (Infinitive phrase not parallel to gerund phrase.)
Parallel: It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbors.
Awkward: What we say and the things that we do seem somehow out of joint. (Noun clause not parallel to noun modified by adjective clause.) Parallel:
What we say and what we do seem somehow out of joint.
Exercise, Revise the following sentences!
1.The cameraman spent months in primitive places in African heats, in Alaskan blizzards, and where there are jungles in South America.
2. On the machinist’s bench stood a variety of plastic birds, opening and closing their beaks, turning their heads, and their tails flipped up and down.
3. During the Divali festivals, the people like to paint their houses, to buy new clothes, and exchanging gifts, and offering prayers for prosperity.
4. They say that men in Arizona tear down nature’s mountains, run them through mills and smelters, and out of the waste new mountains are built.