Professors want to read academic essays that focus on an argument, without the distraction of wordy writing. However, some students may struggle to identify, and remove, sources of wordiness from their papers. The ability to appropriately condense and focus an essay can serve you, not just in your academic career, but in any communication and writing you produce, for the rest of your life. Find out how to write essays below.
Create an Outline
Strong pre-writing will help you determine the goals of your essay, so that you don’t digress from the main topic. For a basic argumentative essay, create an outline that briefly lists the ideas you must address, to fully cover your topic. Each paragraph has to be unique, and address a single idea from your outline. Be specific with each bullet point in your outline, treating each point as a sketch for that paragraph’s topic sentence. Using such an outline will ensure that your essay does not revisit topics, or spend time discussing issues that are not relevant to your thesis.
Focus on the Thesis
A thesis statement provides the central argument of an essay. To avoid wordiness, ensure that each sentence and paragraph, specifically relates to providing the argument in your thesis statement. Do not confuse wordiness with explicitness. A good essay should refer back to the thesis statement, in the topic sentence of each body paragraph; but, avoid wordiness by linking the broad argument, to the new information, covered in that paragraph.
Redundant language, within sentences and paragraphs, bloats an essay. Within sentences, look for multiple nouns and adjectives that mean the same thing, as in the sentence “The room was dark and dimly lit.” Use the stronger of the synonyms to create a tighter, more effective sentence for your good essay. Also, check for sentences that say the same thing as other sentences within the paragraph; delete any sentences that do not add new information, or substance, to your essay.
Active vs. Passive Voice
Passive voice leads to wordy, grammatically awkward sentences. To use passive voice in your essay, write sentences in which the object of the sentence comes before the main verb. For instance, “Kelly threw the ball” would be written in a passive voice like “The ball was thrown by Kelly.” The word “by” can indicate that a sentence is written in passive voice. Place the subject before the main verb, and the object after the verb, to turn passive sentences into active ones.
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