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Many people think a good essay is persuasive. But more importantly, an essay should be useful.
There are four parts to a good essay:
An essay should be correct. However, to be correct is not enough if it is vague.
Don't publish anything unless you're sure it's worth hearing. Write the first draft of an essay quickly, trying out all sorts of ideas. Then rewrite it very carefully, being sure to sift out anything that you're not sure of, or that is not true. Useful writing makes claims that are as strong as they can be without overstating it.
Strength comes from two things: thinking well, and the skillful use of qualification.
Qualifications can express many things: how broadly something applies, how you know it, how happy you are it's so, even how it could be falsified. As you try to refine the expression of an idea, adjust the qualification accordingly. The more you refine an idea, the less you'll need to qualify it. However, don't underestimate qualification. Learn to use its full range.