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Tim Ferriss is someone who has inspired me in many ways and I came across this video of him talking about confronting your fears by deconstructing them and then overcoming them.

This is pretty much what I’ve done with my online How To Study Bootcamp course in the sense that to overcome the fear of exams and the fear of failing, I’ve deconstructed what exams really are and created a system of approaching them in a way that allows you to overcome them and even excel in exams.

I think you’ll find this inspiring…

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The Importance Of A Strong Thesis.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 1: The Thesis


This statement is the single most important aspect of your paper; it is, essentially, the justification for its very existence.

A good thesis sentence should contain:

1. Your basic argument

2. The blueprint for the organization of your supporting details

 

Developing the Argument

 

Topic versus statement
At the outset of your brainstorming, you will likely first decide on a topic for your paper; namely, the particular subject you plan to address in response to the assignment (in some cases, the assignment will already include a specific topic).

Your job in formulating a thesis is to find a specific statement to make about that topic.

 

  • Examples of Topics: “Natural Imagery in Wordsworth and Coleridge”; “Plato’s Treatment of Gender Roles in The Republic.”
  • Examples of Statements: “In The Prelude, Wordsworth uses natural imagery to reflect his increasing awareness of divinity, while in “This Limetree Bower My Prison,” Coleridge’s treatment of nature serves to establish his relationship with fellow human beings”; “In The Republic, Plato’s arguments for gender equality are characterized by sameness of role, yet still subject to a male-dominated hierarchy.”

 

Using your sources to find your argument
Rather than making an opinion statement (one thing is “better” than another, etc.) your argument must be pulled from textual evidence.

Conversely, however, it cannot be a restatement of what your source tells you, but must be an original thought arising from some point of interest, contradiction, or vagary within the text.

 

Specificity
In writing your statement, be sure to say exactly what you’re arguing- do not make a broad generalization. Your reader should know from your thesis what your specific arguments are, not just roughly what they prove.

Also, take into account the length you intend your paper to be. In the space of six pages, for example, you can’t thoroughly discuss the effects of, say. World War II on America, but you might be able to analyze one aspect of its impact on a specific industry or social group.

 

  • Too General: “There are many similarities between Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, but there are some differences as well.”
  • More Specific: “Though both Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina pivot around the tension between individual liberty and societal mores, Flaubert concerns himself with the decadence of self-indulgence, while Tolstoy focuses on the notion of feminine entrapment.”

 

Tension
Perhaps most important, make sure that your argument can be controversial. If you set out to prove something that is a given (like “the 1960s were an era of American cultural upheaval” or “Hamlet undergoes numerous psychological changes”) your paper is not only uninteresting, but entirely pointless.

When you think you’ve decided on a statement, see if you can make a counterargument to refute it. Your job is to show how the evidence of your sources should be interpreted in a particular light, but crucial to its being worth reading is the fact that other interpretations are possible.

 

The Thesis as a Blueprint

 

Framing your paper
In addition to stating your argument, your thesis should give an indication of the particular components thereof.

Though it is not necessary for you to include the gist of each subsequent topic sentence in your thesis, it is important that the basic prongs of your over-arching idea be addressed.

 

  • Incomplete thesis: “In Moby Dick. Melville renders Ahab as a diabolical figure”
  • Complete thesis: “In Moby Dick, Melville renders Ahab as a diabolical figure through the contrasting Christ imagery of the Whale, omnipresent Biblical mythology, and a psychological descent analogous to the Fall.”
  • One more note: Contrary to popular belief, your thesis does not have to be just one sentence. If you cannot construct an adequately complex thesis without making a heinous run-on, by all means, break it up.


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An Effective Introduction Will Entice Your Readers

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 2: The Introduction

 

Once you’ve decided what your thesis is going to be, you must be able to frame it in a manner that provides an effective entry into your work.

No matter how great your argument is, it will not do much good if no one is enticed into reading it.

The two most important functions of your introduction are to serve as a grabber (a stylish, creative lead-up to what you’re trying to say) and as justification (an explanation of why your argument is even important in the first place).

 

Some Basic Guidelines


  • DON’T summarize
    Though it might seem easy to preface your thesis with only a synopsis of the texts you’re writing about, this is a particularly dull way to begin a paper.
  • DON’T keep reiterating your thesis
    Your thesis should appear in your intro as the culmination of the previous thoughts, not just something you mention and then keep restating to fill up a paragraph.
  • DO ask yourself questions
    Why is your thesis relevant? How is its being proven important to the understanding of either text or fact? By linking your argument to a larger issue, you will give your argument both universality and interest.
  • DO be creative
    Think about what aspect of your topic you find the most interesting, and figure out why. Use this to make it interesting to your reader.

 

Some Freebies
(The following are some pre-packaged introduction ideas. It is important, however, not to just adopt one and use it for every paper, particularly for the same instructor. This practice will become trite very quickly.)

 

  • The quotation
    Find a quote from one of your sources or, even better, from elsewhere that seems to get at the problem you’re dealing with. State it at the beginning of your intro and discuss how it relates to what you’re trying to prove.
  • The question
    Throw out a broad question of universal interest, and demonstrate how a possible answer can be related to your thesis (Example: “What do women want? It’s a question that’s plagued mankind since the dawn of history…the works of Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath yield two different paradigms of feminine self-realization”).
  • The anecdote
    This works particularly well for a historical essay, and even better if you have some ability at creative writing. Pick a specific incident that represents the underlying conflict of your piece, and briefly narrate it like a story. Explain afterwards how the instance reflects a problem you’re attempting to solve.


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Topic Sentences And Their Role In Essay Writing.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 3: Topic Sentences

 

Each body paragraph of your paper builds towards proving one particular aspect of your thesis, and each of these aspects should be crystallized into a strong topic sentence.

If your paper is quite short, these sentences might represent the main points you mentioned in the blueprint part of your thesis, but they might each be more specific aspects of one of those points, particularly if your paper is longer.

 

Defining your topics
First and foremost, a topic sentence is a piece of analysis, NOT summary. Think of it in a similar manner to how you thought of your thesis; in other words, an original interpretation based upon the textual evidence of your source.

The first of the following examples illustrates a statement of fact, rather than an argumentative topic sentence.

  • Weak Topic Sentence: “Book Five of Paradise Lost concentrates on the conversation between Adam and the archangel Raphael.”
  • Strong Topic Sentence: “Throughout Book Five, Milton utilizes images of gardening and nourishment to convey man’s maturing relationship to the divine.”

 

Relationship of topics to thesis
Your statements should each provide a solid area of analysis by which your thesis is true. They should, however, be more specific than a mere restatement of part of it.

  • Thesis: “In Journey Through the Twelve Forests, David Haberman apprehends the Ban-Yatra pilgrimage as a realization of the god Krishna’s omnipresence, through separate realizations of the journey’s cyclical nature, the externalization of the divine, and the relationship between asceticism and pleasure.”
  • Topic Sentence for Second Paragraph: “Throughout the narrative, the physical relationship of the pilgrim to the natural landscape of Braj, as well as worshipped images of Krishna and other deities, reflects the presence of Krishna as an interactive externality, rather than the occupant of an inaccessible sphere.”


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Structural Issues… How To Frame Your Paper.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 7: Structural Issues

 

Before putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) it will make your job much easier to have an idea in mind of exactly how your paper is going to be framed.


“Discuss” and “Analyze” prompts
If you’re writing on a pre-assigned topic, its nature will likely affect the way in which your paper is structured.

If you’re asked to “discuss” or “analyze” something (for example, “Discuss the effects of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution), it means you need to treat a specific aspect of a broad topic.

It is important, in these cases, to stick to the specific focus of the prompt: don’t talk about the Enlightenment itself or other aspects of the French Revolution. You must confine your paper solely to the specific relationship between the two.

When thinking about your structure, then, it’s best to come up with the general areas you’d like to discuss (this will largely be determined by the amount of space you have), and to divide your paper mentally between those.

 

The Comparative Analysis
Very often you’ll be asked to “compare and contrast” two pieces of literature, and there are several ways in which to effectively set up this sort of essay.

The first thing to remember (which will be explored more extensively in the thesis section) is that your paper cannot just compare the two pieces in general, exhaustively mentioning all similarities and differences with no specific argument.

Once you know exactly what your argument is, your structure will be crucial to the techniques you use to make it.


Example: The prompt says “Compare Milton’s view of Hell in “Paradise Lost” with that of Marlowe in “Dr. Faustus.” It might be easier, here, to spend your first pages thoroughly analyzing Milton’s view and then moving on to Marlowe’s independently.

It is then key, however, that your conclusion be a successful integration off he two or else you won’t have a unifying argument.

 

Example: The prompt says “Discuss the relationship between symbolism and character in Faulkner’s Light in August and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.”

In this case, it might be easier to discuss the individual relationships one at time. You could discuss Christ imagery in both texts first, for example, and move on to erotic symbols and so forth.


Example: Discuss “The Rape of the Lock” in terms of mock epic, with reference to Homer’s The Illiad.


The sequential method
This means discussing all of text A and then moving on to text B.


The point-by-point method
This method works well if you have a number of parallel specifics to deal with in both texts, and involves discussing each one in turn, with respect to both texts at once.

 

The Lens Paper
This type of comparative paper concentrates on one particular text, but views it through the “lens” of another.

In this case, the second text should be used as a continual reference point, but should not be analyzed in and of itself.

A way to structure this sort of paper is to break down your argument with respect to your main text into a number of points, as you normally would with a “discuss” paper.

Within each paragraph, insert segments of analysis as to how your new arguments function within the paradigms established by the lens text.

 

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Grammar And Style Tips To Make Your Sentences More Sophisticated.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 8: Grammar and Style

 

Vary your sentence structure – Nothing seems more unsophisticated than an uninterrupted succession of subject-verb constructions.

Take a series of sentences like the following as an example: “Moby Dick can symbolize both a manifestation of God or of the ultimate evil.” Here are just a few of the variations you can make:

  • Melville renders Moby Dick as simultaneously a manifestation of God and as a symbol of the ultimate evil.
  • That Moby Dick is subject to a dichotomy of interpretations is evident in his depiction as both a manifestation of God and of the ultimate evil.
  • We may intimate that Moby Dick is a juxtaposition of both the divine and the diabolical.


Combine short sentences

Try reading your paper out loud. If it seems choppy it can likely be remedied by your grouping short sentences into longer, more complex ones. For example:

    Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy has deeper implications. He becomes obsessed with escaping his own past.

This would be much stronger if combined:

    Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy eventually translates into a yearning to escape his own past.

Don’t use passive voice
Plain and simple. It makes your writing weak.

    Bad:This fact was proven by Napoleon’s subsequent actions.
    Good:
    Napoleon proved this fact through his subsequent actions.” The object of the sentence should never be turned into the subject.

Maintain consistency in tense
Don’t drift from the present to the past to the conditional (from “he is” to “he was” to “he would have”).

Some things to avoid wherever possible:

  • Starting a sentence with “there are” or “there were“.
  • Using the phrase “this shows” (as a substitute say “evident in this fact is” or “This interpretation belies the idea that”).
  • Using the word “quotation” when incorporating a direct quote. This makes for an awkward break from your natural thoughts, and creates an aura of self-consciousness in your writing.
  • Exclamation points.
  • The first person or second person tense. Sometimes using the first person plural (as in the previous example of “we may intimate”) is generally acceptable, in that it conveys a universality that the “I“or “you” voices preclude.
  • Confusing commas and semi-colons. A semi-colon can be used to connect two short, related sentences into a longer one: ”Trench warfare became standard during World War One; it was used in all the major confrontations.”. A comma cannot be used in this way.
  • Confusing “who” and “whom“; the former is a subject, the latter an object
  • Broad, non-specific words like “good,” “bad,” “nice,” “important,” “vivid,” and “thing“. If those are the only words you can use to express what you’re saying, it’s likely not subtle enough to make for a very good argument.


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Writing An Effective Conclusion.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 9: The Conclusion


As the very last impression your reader gets of your paper, the conclusion is your opportunity to sell your argument once and for all.

It’s a place for reflection, for looking back at the relationship between the numerous ideas of your paper. Most importantly, however, it ought to be the site of your most complex analysis; that which incorporates everything that’s gone before.

Some General Cautions

DON’T allow the conclusion to become merely a restatement of the thesis with a couple of linking sentences beforehand.

DON’T view it as merely an ornamental way to end your paper – its role should be to justify your paper at the highest level.

DO analyze how your argument has changed as your paper has progressed. If you haven’t proven anything more than merely what you mentioned in your introduction, you haven’t really said anything at all.

Throughout the course of a good paper new subtleties of argument ought to have manifested themselves, and the place to integrate all these subtleties into a new, more powerful statement of your thesis, is right in the conclusion.

DON’T begin your conclusion with the opener “In conclusion…“. That makes your paper awkwardly self-conscious and contrived, rather than naturally unfolded.

DO attempt some sort of unified closure, with respect to what you set up in the introduction. If you used one of the previously mentioned clever introductions, make reference again to the quote, questions, or anecdote you incorporated.

DO consider linking your argument to a more universal idea, analyzing its relevance with an eye on the new angle your argument proved.

 

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Citations… Examples Of How To Do Them Correctly.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 10: Citations

 

It’s important to remember that every single piece of information you obtain from a source must be cited in your paper. This applies not only to quotes, but to every single fact you incorporate.

There are several methods, but it’s best just to choose one and remain consistent. Below are directions for doing citations in the MLA style, one of the most widely recognized formats.

Bibliography
The first step is to make a bibliography, inclusive of all works you’ve cited in your paper. What follows is a list of proper forms for various types of sources.

Book
Vendler, Helen. Poems. Poets. Poetry . Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. If the book you are using is an edition other than the first, include this information (e.g. “Id ed. “) directly after the title.

Article or other work in a Journal
Sedgwick, Eve. “Symbolism and Sexuality in Faulkner.” Mississippi Quarterly 10 (1987): 69-78.

Article, chapter, excerpt, or work in an edited collection or anthology
Jonson, Ben. “Though I am Young.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature .6th ed. Ed. M.H. Abrams et al. New York: Norton, 1993. 1240-1241.

Item in a collection of the author’s work with no separate editor
Lawrence, D.H. “Tickets Please.” In Collected Stories. London: Heinemann, 1974. 314-325.

Item in a collection of the author’s work with no separate editor
Lawrence, D.H. “Tickets Please.” In Collected Stories. London: Heinemann, 1974. 314-325.

Article or interview in a magazine or newspaper
Clift, Eleanor. “Clinton’s Right Turn.” Newsweek July 1999: 55-56.

Article in an encyclopedia or other reference work
“Aardvarks.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 1975.

Review or editorial
Leys, Simon. “Balzac’s Genius and Other Paradoxes.” Rev. of Balzac: A Life, by Graham Robb. The New Republic 20 December 1994. 26-7.

Preface, introduction, forward
Lewis, C.S. Preface. Phantastes. By George MacDonald. New York: Penguin Books, 1945.

Letters or papers from an archive
Reagan, Ronald. Papers. Ronald Regan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA.

Personal Letter
Sheley, Erin L. Letter to the author. 10 January 2000.

Unpublished paper or dissertation
Borelli, Jessica. “Out of the Darkness: Dreams and their Relation to Childhood Sexuality.” Diss. University of California, Berkeley, 1999.

Letter in a published collection
Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley. “To Alexander Pope.” 7 September 1718. Selected Letters. Ed. Robert Halsband. New York: Viking-Penguin, 1986.

Legal Case
Watson v. Dunhill Inc. 135 USPQ 88 2d Cir 1967.

Book with an author and an editor
Dante Alighieri. The Inferno. Ed. Robert Pinsky. Boston: Boston University Press, 1996.

Book in several volumes
Keats, John. Collected Poems. Plays, and. Letters. 2 vols. Ed Jon Stallworthy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Books in a series
Peterson, Margaret Wallace Stevens and the Idealist Tradition. Studies in Modern Literature 24. Ann Arbor: Umi Research Press, t983.

Reprinted Book
Douglas, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas. 1857. New York: Penguin Books, 1993.

Translated Book
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science. Trans. Walter Kaufman. New York: Vintage, 1974.86.


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In response to some students having trouble writing essays, I’ve found a really helpful essay writing course for you. Check it out…


Lesson 1: The Thesis

Lesson 2: The Introduction

Lesson 3: Topic Sentences

Lesson 4: Building Your Argument Part One: Close Reading

Lesson 5: Building Your Argument Part Two: Integrating Sources

Lesson 6: Building Your Argument Part Three: Strategy

Lesson 7: Structural Issues

Lesson 8: Grammar And Style

Lesson 10: Citations



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The Correct Strategy To Write A Coherent Paper.

This lesson is courtesy of TermPaperEdge.com


Lesson 6: Building Your Argument Part Three: Strategy


Now that you’ve done some good analysis within your paragraphs, it’s necessary to examine how they fit in to the goal of your overall paper.


Avoid Chronology
When looking at your paper as a whole, it is much better for your paragraphs to relate according to a process of thought or strategy, rather than of chronology.

If it seems as though your paragraphs are divided according to the order of your source (In other words, “first this happens,” then “this happens,” then “and finally…”), there’s a good chance you’re lapsing into plot summary.

 

Ordering according to thought process
Here’s where your highlighting becomes useful again. Follow each of the ideas you developed throughout the text individually.

If you highlighted in different colors, make all your pink highlights one section, your blue highlights another, and your yellow ones a third. In this manner your writing flows in an ordered progression, but according to the development of an argument, rather than recapitulation of the text.

 

Make your paragraphs build off of each other
It’s best to try to arrange your paper in a manner that grows increasingly more specific. In subsequent paragraphs, try to refer back to what you mentioned in previous ones, and explain how your current subject extends or re-examines it in a new light.

 

Transitions
In order to give your paper unity and flow, it’s important to always make smooth transitions between paragraphs. Consider the relationship between the two paragraphs, and use it as a way of moving from one to the other.

You might address a similarity in argument, by saying

“In a similar manner…”, “This argument may be allied to “subject B” in terms of… “, “Likewise… “,

or

“The idea of X recurs again with respect to… “

To express a dissimilarity, you might use

“In contrast…”, “On the other hand… “,

or

“Nevertheless”

 

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