One of the challenges that I face with students is to get them to write an essay. While essay writing is taught in school from junior school, somehow students always find it a challenge because they do not understand and implement a ‘writing structure’.
Pattern and symmetry do not exist only in math or arts.
While there are many widely popular writing styles such as the Schaffer Language, or the Hamburger Model, I prefer to use the PEEL structure with them. It is easy to use and has few steps.
What is the Point and what is the Plan
Before you get down to writing that assignment, paper, essay or project report, get your plan on paper or on digital media if you are more comfortable with that. For me, going analog is better as the time away from the computer is uninterrupted, leading to better focus that helps me see my problem statement and goals more clearly.
It is only in still water that we can see.
Start with making a plan around the main point of your essay. Sketch out your ideas. Put your key points clearly. Guy Kawasaki in his book Presentation Zen talks about the ‘Curse of Knowledge’. He states that, ‘the Curse of Knowledge is essentially a condition where the deliverer of the message cannot imagine what it is like not to possess his level of background knowledge on the topic.’ So it is imperative that you plan your essay structure as a mind map to eliminate the chaff and keep the grain.
Start each paragraph with a POINT. What is it that you have identified as the main point that you would like to make.
The second step is to EXPLAIN the point that you have identified. Remember to use evidence in favor of and against the point. Explain your reasoning through the use of a theory or real like example or a cause and effect situation. This is where the research that you have done comes handy to help you build your analysis.
The third step is to EVALUATE the point based on the evidence that has been used in favor of and against the point. Evaluating different perspectives in each paragraph is important and should not be left till the end as one big clunky analysis. The evaluation could support, partially supports or may not support the point.
The fourth step is to LINK back the analysis to the point identified in the beginning to establish the relevance of your evaluation. It would be helpful to use the words from your essay title here to draw a connection.
Focus on getting your message across clearly with a tighter and sharper focus.