Components of a good essay - Deepstash

Components of a good essay

Many people think a good essay is persuasive. But more importantly, an essay should be useful.
There are four parts to a good essay:

  • correctness
  • strength
  • importance
  • novelty

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Telling people something novel doesn't always mean surprising them. It could mean telling them something they knew unconsciously but were unable to put into words. In fact, those insights are often more valuable because they are more fundamental.

The way to get novelty is to write about topics you've thought about a lot. Anything you notice that surprises you will probably also surprise many readers. If you don't learn anything from writing an essay, don't publish it.

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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.

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  • Write the first draft of an essay fast, trying various ideas. Then spend time rewriting it very carefully.
  • If you write a bad sentence, don't publish it. Delete it and do it again.
  • If a sentence seems clumsy, ask why it doesn't seem right. By asking this, you'll usually find the replacement right there.
  • Be considerate to the reader: say things as simple as possible.
  • Be humble. If you know you're an expert on some topic, you can admit when you learn something you didn't know.

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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.

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Make something you yourself want.

The reader is not entirely unlike you. If you write about a topic that is important to you, it will seem important to many readers as well.

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RELATED IDEA

Jordan Peterson
"Thinking makes you act effectively in the world.  Thinking makes you win the battles you undertake...If you can think and speak and write you are absolutely deadly!  NOTHING can get in your way.  That's why you learn to write...It's the most powerful weapon you can possibly provide someone with."

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What is a speech?

Just like essays, speeches have three main sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

However, unlike essays, speeches must be written to be heard as opposed to read. It should contain some color, drama or humor.

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Writing with good formatting ≠ good writing.

Formatting with paragraphs, an introduction and a conclusion is not the central component of good writing.

The underlying purpose behind writing is to communicate information and is composed fundamentally of ideas.

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