deird_lj: (Default)
[personal profile] deird_lj
Somehow, in the next few weeks, I have to figure out how to write an essay.

People keep looking at me rather strangely when I say that. (Mostly people from my course - who are all Arts students, and spent their entire uni lives writing essays. They can't quite fathom that Engineering involved repeated maths problems and a complete lack of essays.)

Actually, thinking about it rationally, I should be able to do this easily enough. After all:

- It's only supposed to be 1500 words. In the last few years I've written 16 fanfics that were longer. Most of those only took an afternoon.

- I've written plenty of meta, and other almost-meta-ish stuff. That's basically like writing an essay.

- I wrote essays in high school. (Very badly - but still...)

But I've never written a uni essay before. And I really, really want to do well at this course. It's much more important to me than most of the things I've written - and thus much harder to write.

*sighs* I'll get there. Eventually.

This entry was originally posted at Feel free to comment there using OpenID. (comment count unavailable comments so far)

Date: 2010-09-16 12:38 am (UTC)
ext_15284: a wreath of lightning against a dark, stormy sky (Default)
From: [identity profile]
That's basically like writing an essay.

Um... I'd say it's identical. 'Meta' is just the slang expression people on LJ use for an essay about a fandom topic. Except university essays tend to go better if they're planned in advance (set up the argument, present evidence, draw a conclusion) rather than being random streams of consciousness... Not that I'm saying anyone in this area of fandom writes meta like that... ;-)

Date: 2010-09-16 12:43 am (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
Not that I'm saying anyone in this area of fandom writes meta like that... ;-)

No, not at all... *glances at my meta* Nope. Never. ;)

It just doesn't feel the same, somehow.

Date: 2010-09-16 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, if you need an essay beta, let me know? I have lots of experience proofing essays for friends, and I have a humanities degree from a pretty snazzy college in the US. I'm happy to provide guidance if you'd like any.
Edited Date: 2010-09-16 12:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-09-16 12:43 am (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
I'll bear it in mind... Thanks. :)

Date: 2010-09-16 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Any time! <3

Date: 2010-09-16 12:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You will triumph. You will.


Date: 2010-09-16 12:42 am (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1

Date: 2010-09-16 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is what my high school English told me and I used it all through University (got As and Bs) and now using it in my masters programs (All As so far).

Tell them you're going to tell them (In this essay I will...etc)

Tell them (First, according to etc...)

Tell them you told them (So in conclusion, I showed that whatever was supported through X, Y, Z)

Never failed me yet.

Date: 2010-09-16 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Something i found useful for a basis - and on occasion i grant a complete essay - in science was write whatever i though the answer should be (in the form that xlivvie describes above... then run sentences through Google to find appropriate supporting evidence for my references (well i used PubMed, but i dont know what it's equivilent would be for Arts)... end of the process you have an essay that says what you want and is fully referenced :)

Date: 2010-09-16 10:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I've only been at uni a short while, but I'm 100% Humanities, so. Dozens and dozens of essays. I concur with [ profile] stormwreath, basically. Meta-skill!

Date: 2010-09-16 11:19 am (UTC)
gillo: (teecher)
From: [personal profile] gillo
I'm an English teacher by trade and could probably help you with a few tips if you like. My username at livejournal dot com will reach me. You'll be fine, but structure is the thing that trips many folks up - I can help with that if you like.


Date: 2010-09-16 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, someone up there mentioned the 'first you tell them what you're going to tell them' rule. Which is fine, but it sort of misses out the detail of how you then actually tell them. So I'm going to pass on the advice given to my 17 year old self as a history student, which saw me through another 8 years of humanities study, plus graduate teaching and (I hope) dragging my baby cousin through her A levels this year.

All essays are about answering a question. Make sure you answer it. Not the question you wished they'd asked. Not the question that says 'spew out everything you know on this topic in random order'. This is usually why people get low marks.

To make sure you answer the question, think up about 6 points which answer it. Those are the first sentences of the six substantive points of your essay, aka the paragraphs. The rest of each paragraph is supporting evidence/detail to whatever it is your first sentence says. It's a little mechanical in theory, but in practice, it works to say pretty much anything.

For example, essay question, "What were the most important contributing factors to the outbreak of Flibble?"

Intro: A number of factors have been suggested as causes of the great Flibble. This essay will identify the major causes, discuss their relative impact, and reject the 'twitchy' hypothesis of Prof Quiggle.

Para 1: Fluff was unquestionably the immediate cause of the Flibble outbreak. We can see this in contemporary diary accounts, and the numerous Fluff Clubs which emerged... [more quotes/stats/whatever].

Para 2: A longer-term factor, whose significance is sometimes overlooked in analyses of the Flibble outbreak, is the Great Bunny Chasm of 1876. The Chasm's immediate result was the formation of research communities which were ultimately to Flibble [lots more supporting evidence and info].

By the time you get to para 5 or 6 you may be bored with this approach or have run out of factors. Try this version instead:
Para 6: Quiggle's much-quoted identification of the 'twitch' as a factor in Flibble has been overstated. [lots of info on why the twitch didn't happen/had nothing to do with flibble].

Conclusion: This essay has examined the causative factors of flibble. It has argued that while Fluff was a vital immediate cause, the Great Bunny Chasm and the Squidge [para 3, btw] combined to create a powerfully pro-flibble environment. One may speculate that, in the absence of fluff, flibble might anyway have occurred in the longer term. Quiggle's twitch hypothesis, though attractive, adds little to this fundamental combination of factors.


This is a history type question and answer, but the technique works for most subjects. Sounds like you have beta offers already, but I'm happy to help if you need. There are various English rules which may not travel (we're supposed to avoid personal pronouns in essays, for example), but the gist will work.


deird_lj: (Default)

October 2010


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