Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere, which means “to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out.” Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.
Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.
The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.
An essay outline is a skeletal outline that provides a platform on which you can build your own writing and come up with your own thoughts. These outlines do not have anything written, they just help you structure your ideas and thoughts logically so that you can build towards a meaningful and strong conclusion. In fact, the outline is the main aspect of writing an effective essay. Here is the importance of making an outline prior to writing an essay.
- It clarifies your ideas and develops your thoughts. A completely blank page may make you worried; hence making an outline first can give you a push towards writing. Also, the outline is the initial writer’s block when working on a project. Additionally, the outline in front of you can give you ideas during brainstorming, helping you come up with different and variety of ideas in mind. This makes you know and understand what exactly you want to write. For instance, if you come up with a simple topic at first, with an outline you can clarify thoughts and can come up with supporting details before writing the actual text and content.
- In addition to broadening and clarifying your ideas, it also enables you to organize ideas while staying on the topic. When you have an outline, you do not miss on arguments and points you want to highlight. When you have an outline in front of you, you are able to organize your ideas in a way that they have the most impact.
- Furthermore, the outline normally creates a step-by-step guide for you, making the writing process easier. This guide will eventually save you time. When you are done with the outline of the essay, you just have to write paragraphs and support it with details. Additionally, with an outline, you will not forget the necessary points you want to involve. All you need to do is connect the dots and ideas after you are done with the essay outline.