The art of writing a polished essay requires extreme attention to detail. Some students possess an innate talent for writing a compelling paper, while others require a more stringent methodology to achieve the same results. While natural writing abilities can vary from student to student, a solid writing process can improve most results. Many of the standard writing practices utilized in the current education system have long roots hashed out many years ago. Proven methodology and new technologies can help the current generation of students achieve their full potential when writing an essay.Every research paper has one key ingredient: the research. Even the most compelling, imaginative writer cannot out produce the substance at the heart of a well researched essay. Facts, figures and hard sources will always achieve better results than smoke and mirrors. In the old days, research required an absolute commitment to lengthy library sessions and a highly developed understanding of the Dewey Decimal system. Fortunately for today’s students, the internet provides instant access to an unlimited wealth of resources at the click of a mouse. This paradigm shift has generally resulted in more sources per a paper with each source having more specific information.During the research phase a student will generally develop a thesis or specific argument for a paper. The thesis is the guiding force for the entire document. A well formed thesis should grow out of a broad research phase and guide the more specific research activities required to gather supporting sources for the thesis. Forming a thesis can be a difficult process and many writing classes will dedicate significant time to the concept and process of thesis creation. A thesis is the main creative sentiment in a paper. Despite modern technologies’ contribution to the research phase, thesis creation remains solely in the hands of the writer.The body or framework of a paper is intended to provide supporting points that make the thesis more convincing. These supporting paragraphs should include the most compelling information from the papers resources. The average student essay provides limited real estate to prove a point. With this knowledge in mind, the supporting paragraphs of a paper should be optimized to put forth the strongest facts first. A student needs to organize the sequence and focus of each supporting paragraph to form the strongest foundation possible to support their thesis. Once again, while research elements will help dictate the focus of a paper’s supporting paragraphs, the creation of a paper’s framework is still completely in the hands of the writer.Once a paper is complete a standardized review process can make the difference between an average essay and a great essay. Incorporating obvious tools like computer aided spell check and grammar check are a first step. Once a rough draft is complete, the student needs to self examine the paper for flaws in the argument and unnecessary language. Generally the more succinct a paper the more compelling it is. After a read through, additional third party review sessions can greatly add to any insights about issues with clarity or argument. The review process can vary from class to class, but generally it will either include peer review with feedback or direct review by the educator.Given the greater wealth of research resources and the emphasis for each student to perfect their personal writing methodology, new tools have become available to check for discrepancies in citation. The advent of digital sources has improved the discovery period of the research phase, but has also increased the likelihood of oversights in the citation process. More sources with a greater variety of specific subjects may result in certain language and ideas being accidentally presented without attribution. Fortunately, the modern writing process has evolved to incorporate new essay plagiarism checkers. These new software tools let a student scan their essay for citation issues and highlight the specific segments of a paper that might require additional sourcing.Writing is a true art form. Beautiful language and flowing prose will intrinsically increase the readability of a paper. Presenting a compelling argument in an essay requires adhering to a stringent process and consistently checking and rewriting supporting arguments. Fortunately, the process of writing a thesis paper has been perfected over many years. With the proven methods of writing and the addition of new technology, the current generation of students is afforded a solid foundation to perfect their writing styles.
“Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay” by Adair Lara is a thought provoking, informative, and inspiring book on writing personal essays or memoirs. Lara, who wrote a weekly column for the “San Francisco Chronicle” for twelve years and won the Associated Press Award for Best Columnist in California, uses her experiences as a columnist, author of more than ten books, and writing instructor to guide you through the writing process from coming up with an idea to write about to selling your essay to a magazine or your book to a publisher.As a writer who focuses on writing essays and memoirs, it makes sense that Lara’s book on writing is not a dry, technical writing manual. It’s engaging and full of stories. I found it enjoyable to read, as well as informative and educational.The first part of the book is short and goes into why writing down your stories is common and the importance of craft. Part two focuses on the personal essay going into the elements of a successful essay and a chapter on angle.The third part of the book covers techniques and practices for essay and memoir. The chapters in this part of the book cover tone, image, how to trick yourself into writing, working with other writers, and rewriting your work. These chapters provide good advice on important ingredients of the craft of writing.Part four is on the memoir and has chapters that cover planning your memoir, what goes in it and what doesn’t, and how to write narration and scene. These are important considerations for this type of writing.The final part of the book is on getting published. There are many other books with this a sole focus, but Lara does a decent job of sharing some tips and suggestions from her experiences on selling your essays and publishing your memoir.The book concludes with a short Epilogue that shares some of what you get when you write from life. Things like enrichment, changing relationships, and giving your life meaning. There is also an Appendix that contains a short recommended reading list and a number of pages of writing exercises and a couple of tips regarding using computers for your writing.Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and found it to have some great advice for writing in general, and especially for writing essays and memoirs. If you are interested in this type of writing, I recommend this book. Not only for the practical advice it contains, but also for the motivation and inspiration reading it provides.