I have already searched any tips about writing essay and paper, and it still abstract tips like researching, creating your own thesis statement, and so on. I even cannot create a good paragraph. So assume English is my second language.

Should I learn English grammar to the core like the Literature Students? Since I know some basic grammars, but not in depth. I dunno whether the essay writing need to be grammar perfect or not.

And when to research, what should I do? Already read several books, but still don't get how to write even a proper thesis statement. And the tips in the Internet seems abstract and don't help me at all. Is it just only paraphrasing those lines in the references? Or what? Since I cannot even create new sentences based on the references.

I know there is a general structure like Intro --> Body 1 ---> Body 2 ---> Body n ---> Conclusion paragraphs. However, this kind of templates still not helping me at all. How to make a paragraphs logically flowed?

Well maybe there are several questions inside questions. However, it's because I really don't understand the rigorous way to write an essay that have logical flow. I need some advice to write for a real beginner like me. Reading a lot of books still not make me understand FYI.

First, if English is not your mother tongue, you might find it easier to write the essay first in your mother tongue, and then translate it. That is the stage when you can take care of grammar etc. Maybe consider getting a friend to help you. Get your thoughts in order first, and deal with the language second.

As for how to write, consider what you've read. How would you tell a friend about it? There's some logic to how you would be recounting it, right? You wouldn't start with details, for example - you'd speak of the bigger picture first. If your friend knows nothing at all about the subject, you might tell her first the most basic shape of what you're talking about, why it's relevant, what field of knowledge it belongs to. Once you've built the foundations, you can elaborate on them. Once you've explained the simple stuff, you can tell about the more complex stuff, go into greater detail. Once your friend understands what you're talking about, you can talk about conflicting opinions - maybe someone disagrees with how you view the subject. You wouldn't talk of disagreements before you've explained what the subject is, right?

What is it you want to say about the subject? There's the stuff you've read, but what do you think about it? How does it come together? What conclusions do you draw? What questions do you ask? Why are you talking about this particular subject instead of another? An essay tries to make some point.

Once you've explained the subject and the point you were trying to make about it to an imaginary friend (or a real one who's willing to help you), write it all down. Freeform, pretty much the way you've told it. Then go back and polish what you've written: give each idea its own paragraph, see what needs elaboration and where you're repeating yourself, rearrange ideas if you feel they fit better in a different order. It's easier to improve on something that you already have in hand, than to work from nothing.

At all times keep in mind that what you're doing with an essay is, you're explaining an idea to someone who knows nothing about it. Like an imaginary friend you're talking to, only written down.

  • about the second paragraphs, how should I express something about what I read? Should I grab some lines and paraphrasing them? Or should I need to learn to make summary? Since summary is just like an essay, I got stuck recursively. – Aroli Marcellinus Nov 8 at 2:24
  • @AroliMarcellinus Do you really not know how to make a summary? You read a book, and you cannot tell me in a minute what it's about? There's your summary. – Galastel Nov 8 at 11:05
  • A summary is not just like an essay. As @Rasdashan explained, an essay will have something you are trying to prove or disprove (thesis and argument). He said it much better than I can. That isn't a summary, which just gives the important points of your research. Are you doing this for an assignment? Is the assignment to give a report on something or to do an essay with a thesis? It would help to know which one you are aiming for. – Terri Simon Nov 8 at 21:49
  • @Galastel, it's because I can only summarize it with one sentence. However, several people can even make a summary as long as an essay with 5-paragraphs format. That's why I dunno which one is the standard form. – Aroli Marcellinus Nov 11 at 14:32
  • @TerriSimon, nope it's for my self study. Since I aspired to become researcher, writing should be like a staple task for me. That's why I tried to study several things how to write – Aroli Marcellinus Nov 11 at 14:33

I think you're selling yourself short with your writing skills. You used all the skills you need to write an essay when you wrote your question. You took a topic--your difficulty writing essays--and broke it up into several subtopics, including strategies you have already considered and discarded and sub-questions you have. Your question has paragraphs and a logical flow: you introduce it with your question title, which is a good, concise summary of your question, then discuss details in the body of the question, and even conclude by commenting on the way you structured your question ("maybe there are several questions inside questions") which shows that you're aware of written structure! You also have references in your question to other resources you've looked at--you did research before writing your question and included it in your question in your own words.

So it's clear to me that you have all the basic skills required to write an essay! It sounds like part of what you're struggling with is feeling overwhelmed when looking at a blank page. I will lay out a basic process for you, broken into small steps, that can help you go from blank page to first draft. This is a formulaic way of writing essays that might not work for everyone or every situation, but I present it as a starting point for getting over that initial blank-page anxiety and producing a first draft that is a good, structured foundation for future improvements.

The process starts while doing your research. While reading your sources, consider the topic or prompt of the essay. Each source may discuss several subtopics. For example, say you're writing an essay about the effects of global warming. A single source may discuss a rise in sea levels, the melting of the ice caps, and loss of biodiversity.

In a text document, write headings for each of these subtopics you find. Whenever you find an interesting sentence in a source on one of these subtopics--say a book by Janet Jones says on page 58 that "sea level rise due to global warming could reach 6 inches by 2020"--write that down under the relevant subtopic, along with the book title, author name, and page number. These are turn into your body paragraphs.

Once you're done doing research--how much is necessary will depend on the final essay length, but for a short, college-writing-101-style essay I'd aim for 3-7 body paragraphs and 2-3 quotes per paragraph--reread each heading you made. Summarize every quote under that heading in one sentence. (Your summary for the sea level subtopic might be something like "Although many underestimate the impact of sea level rise, it could cause serious consequences for coastal cities." That's your introduction sentence for that body paragraph.

Pause for a moment to write your thesis. The purpose of a thesis statement is to guide your reader through the arguments you're making in your paper. You've written down the facts and evidence, but why should the reader follow your arguments to their conclusion? The purpose of the thesis is to remind your reader of the "big idea" of your essay. For the global warming essay the thesis might be something like, "It is crucial for humans to tackle global warming quickly and effectively to avoid the destruction of our species."

If you struggle with this, try rereading the body paragraph introduction sentences you already wrote. What theme ties them all together? What's your personal opinion about what you've written so far--what's the conclusion you would draw from this evidence? Try putting the essay down and, out loud, in one sentence, say what you just wrote--that sentence might be a good starting place for a thesis statement. If you can't think of the perfect thesis, simply summarize the research you did and move on--don't get so hung up on your thesis statement that you don't finish the essay.

For each body paragraph, take your summary sentence and twist it a little. Instead of summarizing the evidence in that paragraph, tell the reader why it matters--the big picture. For the sea level rise paragraph, you could say something like "The potential impact of sea level rise on coastal cities shows why it is so important for humans to take swift action to reverse climate change." It mentions the topic of the paragraph--sea level rise--and links it to a broader point--the need to reverse climate change. This sentence should tie the body paragraph to your thesis statement. This will be your conclusion sentence for that paragraph.

Now you need to go back and link together the quotes you put into each body paragraph to turn them into prose. Rephrase them into your own words by reading them, then putting them away and re-writing them without looking. Or keep them as cited quotes in your paper ('Janet Jones said in Global Warming and Our Oceans, "..." (p. 58)'). If two adjacent sentences are on different topics, add a transition sentence to bridge them. Add your own opinions and comments on how different sources relate to each other. For a bare minimum, you will likely only need to add two or three sentences to flesh out each paragraph.

Lastly, add an introduction and conclusion paragraph. These come last because they refer to your body paragraphs. Your introduction and conclusion paragraphs will be structured opposite to each other. The introduction paragraph starts out broad and becomes specific. Start with a general statement about the broad importance of your topic: "Global warming has been a topic of intense debate over the past decade." Then restate the topics of each of your body paragraphs--this should be similar to the intro sentences of your body paragraphs, so something like "Some scientists believe sea level rise could devastate coastal cities." The last sentence of your intro is your thesis statement.

Do the opposite for your conclusion: Start by restating your thesis in different words. Then add in summaries of your body paragraphs again, but this time, make them more like your body paragraph conclusion sentences: Connect each point you made in your essay back out to the broader context of your thesis. Finally, finish with another broad statement about the importance of your topic as a whole: "Humanity's incredible advancements in science and technology will be pointless if we cannot avert the disaster of global warming."

That wraps up a complete first draft. The next step is to get feedback from a peer you trust, professor, or tutor to start refining it into a polished essay.

If you are in college, there are likely free resources on campus that can help you when you get stuck in this process, such as a writing center or private writing tutoring, your professor's office hours, or tutoring for English-language learners. I encourage you to look into those resources. These skills are much easier to learn when you can have someone guide you through it the first time. I worked as a writing tutor in college and we worked with students like you--English-language learners with little or no experience writing essays--all the time, so don't be embarrassed if you have questions that are very basic, or want somebody to help you through writing a single paragraph. It might depend on the writing center, but many tutors will be happy to guide you through writing an outline or thesis statement, not just revising a finished essay. If you are not in college or don't have access to any of these resources, a public library might be able to point you to someone who can help you in person.

An addendum on your question about grammar: The importance of grammar to your essay will depend heavily on your audience. If you are writing for yourself, it only depends on your own standards. If you're writing for an outside audience, your grammar at least needs to not interfere so much with your writing that your audience can't understand the content. If you're writing for a professor, their requirements could differ very widely--I've known professors who couldn't care less about grammar as long as they can figure out what you're saying, or who can appreciate the artistic merit of someone's "written accent" if it's present in their essay, and professors who will knock you down to an instant zero for having basic comma errors that even good writers make. Ask your professor or refer to a syllabus or rubric to figure out where your professor falls.

An essay is an argument and takes a firm and clear stance on the subject and both explains and defends it to the reader.

The first paragraph will hold the thesis and set the stage, creating the bigger picture. You then anticipate objections and answer them in following paragraphs. The final one will hold your conclusion.

Use formal English. Use ‘do not know’ rather than ‘dunno’.

Better grammar will prevent errors distracting from your ideas, which will be presented in a clear manner.

Summary is not like an essay, not really. An essay has a purpose and it is to tell someone about a topic and what you and others believe.

You could write an essay on the importance of printed books versus purely digital and take the position that printed books are superior and will always find a market because of the feel of the book in one’s hands, the weight of the tome and the scent of the binding, all contributing to the pleasure of reading. You could argue that printed books will be less apt to produce eye strain and mention that others might find the opposite true, but are mistaken because ____________.

One method I was taught was to organize it all first by writing in point form each argument and counter argument.

The thesis statement clearly states what you will seek to prove in the following paragraphs. Do your research, but take notes. The more important points will probably end up with a paragraph of their own unless they are closely related.

Organize your notes, see what seemed most important to you on that subject and imagine yourself telling someone what you have found and what you mean to prove. Polish it, but that will be the heart of your thesis.

Once you have that thesis, arrange the points you want to make - both for and against - in descending order of importance. Add supporting details to each point and you will have paragraphs that will flow logically. Avoid contractions and write clearly.

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