Any work, be it a thesis, an article in an academic journal, or a review, has a clear structure. Let’s admit it: it’s much easier for all of us to perceive the text when it’s coherent and logical. The organization is critical to one of the most popular types of student assignments: an essay. Why?
Unlike other kinds of papers, essays have a certain “creative freedom.” However, the more freedom we get, the more responsibility we have to take, as one must think over the organization of essay themselves. Of course, the structure largely depends on the essay’s final goal.
Nevertheless, it usually remains within the standard requirements. The main thing is to take a piece of paper and sketch out a rough plan. It will be a “skeleton” of the future text.
How to Organize an Essay
In an essay, authors are free to express themselves as they want. But there’s a requirement they need to address: each thesis must be supported by arguments.
These can be well-known and scientifically proven facts, events, examples from history, phenomena, and references to books. An average essay begins with a problem statement (thesis), proceeds with two or three arguments with examples, and ends with a conclusion. Here is one of the most popular ways to organize an essay.
- Introduction (draw the reader’s attention with a plot twist, a hook, a quote, or extraordinary event, set the background, and then state your thesis);
- Conclusion (summarize those viewpoints the reader should definitely remember).
Supporting idea (argument) 1 with its evidence and examples;
Supporting idea (argument) 2 with its evidence and examples;
Supporting idea (argument) 3 with its evidence and examples;
Before you start organizing the structure, read the assignment carefully to understand what the professor expects from you. Requirements usually include the topic and purpose, tone of voice, and volume. Of course, to make sure you’ll write a well organized essay, study the theme. Once you are well versed in it, look through the literature – references will be extra handy while working on the thesis and arguments.
A thesis statement will be the leitmotif of your entire work. It is usually a controversial point of view that needs to be proved. When formulating such a statement, remember that it must be specific. For instance:
- Beauty is treated as immoral in The Picture of Dorian Gray;
- Basil and Lord Henry represent God and the Devil in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
During the organization phase, brainstorming is a good exercise. Think about the topic and write whatever comes to mind. These can be associations, examples from life, or your personal attitude to the issue. Try this technique for ten minutes straight – one of the ideas will probably be helpful for more organized writing.
Later, back up your main ideas with two types of evidence: arguments and facts. For example, if your essay is connected to a certain book, facts can include specific quotes. In case you want to discuss the character of Sir Henry, quote his words and describe him in detail.
As for the arguments, they are based on your logic and reasoning. Think: why did Sir Henry become like this? What should be noted in his manner of speaking? Explain your point of view to enhance the organization essay. Its convincing arguments and strong evidence will certainly impress the reader.
Essay Organization Types
There are different types of essay organization, but first and foremost, let’s structure your thoughts. The first practical exercise is “thematic blocks” or “circles.” Such a scheme is essential if you’ve generated a lot of ideas and don’t know where to start. This will help you move from general to specific.
Take a blank piece of paper and write your topic in the center, then circle it. Let’s say your theme is The Picture of Dorian Gray. Circle this phrase and write what interests you the most around the circle. It might be “Dorian’s acquaintance with Lord Henry,” “Sybil’s death,” or “Destruction of the portrait.”
Next, write more specific questions or comments around each idea. Start looking for connections. Bridge the circles with lines where you see something corresponding – organizing an essay will be much quicker then.
One of the most well-known types of essay organization is the five-paragraph format. Include at least three various points of view in your essay to prove the main claim. The other two paragraphs will be the introduction (which describes the problem) and the ending (where you summarize the arguments).
The third option to improve your organization in writing is to think about the questions that need to be answered. Many students complain that they don’t know what to say on a specific topic. Learn to ask yourself questions:
- How? (How is Sybil’s death represented? How do other characters react to it? How should the reader feel?)
- Why? (Why did the author intend Sybil to die? Why would the novel be completely different without her death?)
If a low-tech organization is not your cup of tea, why not use the outline view function in Microsoft Word? First, collect your thoughts as you would on a normal piece of paper. Then, turn to the outline view – it will arrange your ideas in hierarchical order.
Wondering if there are other methods to present your views? Read on to find out about four types of essay organization.
Essay Organization Methods
There is no doubt that it’s the most widespread method of essay organization when it comes to narrative ones. The sequence plays a key role if you are to tell a story. Here, events and their details are represented exactly as they appear in time. For example:
- It was a cold, gloomy winter morning. Despite the awful weather, the girl didn’t give up on her promise to run every morning. Jogging in the park, she noticed a tall, dark figure standing behind a tree. “You’re Elizabeth, right?” – the stranger asked.
If you choose this type over other methods of organization, divide the story into significant stages: an initiating episode, the following happenings, culmination, and the ending.
A chronological (narrative) method is perfect for writers who aim at
- making the content more intriguing;
- relating to an experience;
- explaining the process step-by-step.
By the way, this type of organizing an essay works for autobiographies, memoirs, fairy-tales, sci-fi, and so on.
Cause and Effect Order
This option greatly deals with logical methods of organization in writing. It highlights close connections between situations and things. Use this organization to explain how events occur and what their causes and results are. For example:
- We are exposed to germs. → We don’t wash our hands properly. → We get sick.
- Mobile phones distract school students. → Mobile phones aren’t allowed in the classroom.
Comparison and Contrast
This method is the third on the list of ways to organize an essay. It’s related to listing ideas to analyze their differences and similarities. You may compare anything, from poems of the same author to playwriters who lived in the same epoch. Before you start the organization of essay, decide what is more important to you – likeness or contrast? Basically, if there are more similarities, it’s more interesting to concentrate on differences.
Organizing by Significance
It’s hard to imagine the organization of an essay without an order of importance. Here, thoughts or objects are listed according to how meaningful they are. Building on your paper’s strength step-by-step, arrange the paragraphs so that the most significant one comes last. On the other hand, you may turn to reverse order and let the least important part be the last. Don’t forget to use such words asworst,best,least, most,<next,last, etc.