A good essay is like a shish kebab. It has a handle (your introduction). It offers bite-sized chunks of nourishing meat (your main points, organised in paragraphs). Peppers and onions (evidence and quotations) accompany each chunk, in careful balance. The kebab is seasoned with salt (meticulous writing) to bring out the flavour, and a little pepper (a sprinkle of style) – but never too much. Most importantly, a skewer (your argument) holds the whole assembly together, guiding you along its length towards a sharp point (your conclusion). Once when I offered this analogy to a student, she looked at me scornfully before replying, ‘But I’m a vegetarian.’ Tofu works well too.
8 February 2017
Each paragraph is a building block in your argument.
Test the flow of your argument by reading through your topic sentences.
How can you quickly grasp the essence of an article and work out if it will be useful to you? First, read the abstract, which summarises the article. Check the introduction and then the conclusion. If the content appears relevant, now scan the topic sentences; the topic sentence is the first sentence of every paragraph,…