The following instructions are intended to give a broad first-level introduction to the mechanics of writing about texts. They will NOT instruct in how to produce a Higher grade A essay.
Put simply, these are basic principles for people who lack confidence in their writing at Standard Grade and Int 1 or 2.
A solid introduction sets the scene for your reader. It gives an indication of what you’re writing about, and where you think the essay will lead you. There are five things you must include in your introduction:
1. The name of the text.
2. The name of the writer.
3. The date of its writing.
4. A very brief (one or two sentences) idea of the plot.
5. A statement showing what your essay intends to do.
Not all essays require you to summarise the plot of the text. However, at this level, a good eight to ten line overview of the text goes some way to showing that you know the story. This will, in turn, prove to your reader that you know what you are talking about. In the summary try to point out any themes that apply to the question you are answering.
The main body of the essay will be a series of paragraphs that address the question directly. You should be prepared to talk about a point of the question in some depth, and use references to the text throughout. For convenience, try to remember the S.Q.C. process.
S – Statement – Make a statement in support of your argument. (Racism is another cause of loneliness in Of Mice and Men.)
Q – Quotation – Use a quotation from the text that backs up this first point. (“I ain’t allowed in the bunkhouse… because I’m black.”)
C – Comment – Comment on how this links to your question. (Clearly, for Crooks, the racial segregation of his society has left him without any friends.)
Each paragraph should try to address three or four of these points, all connected to roughly the same point.
You might need a look at this to learn how to embed quotations.
This is the final part of the essay and should try to tie-up the main points you have made. There is a quick, albeit somewhat mechanical, way to do this.
1. State what the question was asking you to do.
2. Briefly recap the main incidents from the text that you have used to explore the question.
3. Give a final opinion of the issue.
These points will give your essay a structure and make sure it is relevant to the question, which is a good place to start.
However, this will not improve the fluency of your writing, nor polish your expression. These are best learned by reading other essays so that you can steal ideas on how to start sentences, how to develop your ideas, how to build your critical vocabulary and so on.
Finally, essay-writing takes practice. You cannot expect to improve by only writing a couple of essays. They might seem time-consuming but with greater familiarity you can really push yourself, and from here the best grades come.