Good writers often struggle with too much to say. They have a great idea, and they want to dazzle the reader with their knowledge and insight, and as a result, they often try to cram too much information into their writing. This is particularly true for the essay writer. Essays like this lead the reader to be confused, overwhelmed, or irritated. Readers like to walk away with new understanding or a fresh look at what they already know, and if they can’t find “the point” in your writing, then they won’t find time to read your ideas, no matter how great they are.
The solution to this problem is to avoid too many points in your writing. Every article, essay, or term paper should be able to be summarized in a single point. This is your thesis or argument. We’ve all heard this before, but often writers try to write about four or five points, when one, clearly explained, is better. No matter what you are writing, there should be a single focus in what you are trying to say.
Take a position in your work, and then follow that position all the way through the assignment. It’s okay to have supporting statements, but be careful that they support your single focus, not introduce new ideas. This is where confusion comes in. Many essay writers confuse new ideas for supporting statements. Any supporting elements should be explanations of why your theme is true or not true, or why your position is valid. This is especially true for the student who is taking an essay exam or crafting a letter for scholarship applications. This type of written assignment is a bit shorter and students don’t have time to develop multiple points in this limited format.
When you take a perspective in your writing, be sure that you use words that reiterate or emphasize the key idea throughout the writing. As you work through your draft, you can even circle or highlight your key terms so that you can visually see that you are making your single point clear to the reader. Another idea is to have someone read the essay and tell you what they believe your point to be. Obviously you cannot do this during an exam, but I highly encourage students who are completing homework essays or essays for any type of applications to have their writing reviewed before they submit their work.
The next time you read an essay or article written by another writer, notice that the good ones, the ones that you learn from or are encouraged by, keep you focused on a single thing to do or task to learn. They will reiterate their point clearly, and make it easy to understand. They will use familiar words and stick to a single point. Not only are essays like this easier to read, they are also easier to write!