Table of Contents
- A Key Step in Writing a Successful College-Style Essay
- Unique Style
- The Reader is Above All!
A Key Step in Writing a Successful College-Style Essay
There seems to be a common misconception that writing a college-style essay is difficult. Those who have such an opinion have good reason to believe so, as these essays are structural and are more complicated in syntax when compared to everyday discourse. Although, that is what makes writing college essays easy, it’s simply following form. These essays take into account the many different variables that will affect their end product, such as, the topic they are writing about, the process they will use, the identity that they must conform to, as well as previous discourse that the writer may find inspiration from.
To begin with, a writer must be presented a topic in order for them to know what they need to write about. Often, these topics will be revealed in the form of a prompt; the prompt will typically (not always) contain context of that topic along with directions to help give the writer a clear place to start and provide structure for their essay. Typically, these writers are either asked to make a scholarly report or, more often, asked to take a stand in whatever topic they are provided with. Because they have to take on a position in the topic, the writer must cater their essay to a particular audience. For example, when talking about his experience as an English professor, David Bartholomae puts emphasis on the importance of writers having to know who they are writing to, and adds that, “A writer has to “build bridges” between his point of view and his readers” . Bartholomae is essentially saying that the writer must appropriate to the audience’s interests in order to make it comfortable for the reader. For this reason, evaluating the topic you’re provided with, and taking a stand is a key step in writing a successful college-style essay.
Moreover, when a writer is done evaluating the topic they are provided with, they must begin to conceptualize the process they must go through to complete their essay. Every writer follows a process unique to themselves, as all writers were taught how to write differently; their process becomes even more unique when what they learned gets blended with the writer’s voice. It is for this reason, there are many unique “styles” these writers may have. Donald Murray puts it as “the process of using language to learn about our world, to evaluate what we learn about our world, to communicate what we learn about our world”. Murray is saying that a writer’s ability to communicate the skills and values they have discovered through literature is important in the writing process. In other words, writers must be cognizant in being able to optimize their writing, through sentence structure, syntax, and choosing the best vocabulary to help get their point across as effectively as possible.
As previously mentioned, it is important for an essay writer to convey their process of discovery through literature, however, the source of such a discovery lies in previous literature the writer might’ve been exposed to. According to James Porter, good writing has multiple layers in its meaning, and the ability to achieve multiple layers is through inspiration from other texts. This process is known as “intertetuality,” which finds traces of previous literature found in text that, when connected, create a whole new conversation to address. Extending that process, Porter states, “Not infrequently, and perhaps ever and always, texts refer to other texts and in fact rely on them for their meaning. All texts are interdependent: We understand a text only insofar as we understand its precursors” . Simply put, Porter is saying that without the dependency of previous literature, new literature will have no foundation to build off of and make connections to. With reason, this is why it is imperative that an essay writer must be thinking of previously read text when looking at new materials presented to them.
The Reader is Above All!
Through it all, when someone is writing a college essay, not only do they have to keep in mind the topic they were presented with, their writing process, as well as inspiration from others texts, but they must at the same time be cautious of exposing their own voice in their writing. This is due to college-style essays needing to sound scholarly and authoritative. When speaking on the importance of a writer being able to strategically imagine how a reader will respond to their work, David Bartholomae says that “The success of this pedagogy depends upon the degree to which a writer can imagine and conform to a reader’s goals”. Bartholomae is saying that essay readers are reading work for a purpose, and they already have previous expectations and assumptions on whatever topic they are reading about. This is why it is important for an essay writer to adapt their identity or appropriate other identities in such a way that is paved by the interest of the essay reader.
In short, when someone is writing a college-style essay, there are many different steps and components to the process of writing an essay that they must take into account. First, the essay writer must begin to conceptualize the topic being presented to them with the help of previous knowledge on that topic or materials that may be provided with. After they are done conceptualizing that topic, the writer must be able to optimize their writing with the using good grammar and sentence structure, with the help of previous skills they picked up over the years in order to have a clear writing process. If the essay writer wants to increase the effectiveness of their writing, they must think about text they have previously read, and use it as inspiration in their own work to bring out discourse that had not previously existed. Doing so, fills a knowledge gap on such topics and creates new questions for academia to answer. However, an essay writer must strive to achieve the aforementioned while also having to beware of revealing their own voice in their work, and must conform to the interest of the essay reader.