Often times, in college (though this totally would work for high school papers as well) you are assigned weekly essays on the assigned text. Some teachers may prefer that you pick a specific topic from the reading while others prefer a broad synopsis, so be sure to find this out before you begin writing your paper.
Outlining really is the way to go for essays. By building the basic structure, you know you have all the elements needed and then you just have to fill in the meat. Once you have the method down, essays are quick work.
The basic structure for all essays is beginning, middle and end - duh. Start the skeleton of your essay as follows:
First paragraph: Introduction ➙ Lead in to thesis ➙ thesis sentenceA good thesis is generally formatted as an answer to a question:
Why should you change your underwear daily? Because it’s gross if you don’t. Thus, your thesis sentence would be: Changing your underwear daily will prevent you from being gross. (or something to that effect)The rest of the essay would then be to prove to the reader why you think changing your underwear is necessary. The body of the essay would be structured like this:
Paragraph 2: Topic Sentence ➙ Explanation, proof and substance ➙ transition to next topic
Paragraph 3: Topic Sentence ➙ Explanation, proof and substance ➙ transition to next topic
Paragraph 4: Topic Sentence ➙ Explanation, proof and substance ➙ transition to conclusionA topic sentence is simply a statement in support of your thesis. Simple.
Finally is your conclusion paragraph:
Reiterate thesis in a different way ➙ wrap it upBut, this is all stuff you (hopefully) know. My secret is that, after you have this basic outline, go through your reading and find the quotes that support each of your topic sentences. Type up these notes and place them in the outline (be sure to site the source and record the page numbers). Follow this quote with your explanation of what the quote means in your own words.
Now step back and look at your essay. It’s nearly complete. All that’s left is filling is a transition here or some more meat there.
Just a warning, this is a super basic essay structure. It’s not intended for major assignments though the basic idea couple be used if improved on a lot.