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How to plan an essay

Think back to the first time you ever asked for something; maybe it was a pacifier, or a piece of candy, or if you were really smart - a candy-flavoured pacifier.

It was probably a pretty simple task - maybe you just stuck out your hand or cried and it was yours. Fast forward to today - you're standing in front of a millionaire and you want a million dollars. In this situation - simply crying will probably result in some well-dressed body guards mopping your tears off his gold-plated floor and then throwing you out. No - getting a million dollars is going to require a big idea, a good example and a strong argument as to what you'd do with the money. If you had to turn that conversation into writing - you'd be talking about an essay! Essays are something you're always going to have to do - particularly as you get older, so it's worth knowing just how to do them.

Here are the four key components of writing a strong, convincing essay (and potentially getting 1 million dollars).

1) Style

Always take a second out to decide WHAT you are trying achieve. If you are writing to 'persuade', it probably won't be the type of essay with lots of flowery metaphors and descriptions of fairies, but rather punchy, powerful language. However, if you are writing an essay to 'describe' flowery fairy land then perhaps those previous techniques would be more suitable. You won't know what style to slot into unless you ask yourself this question and once you do, it will unlock the techniques needed in that situation. 

2) Intro 

Now, imagine you were approaching this millionaire to request his money - would you roll up to him in some sandals and a stinky, hole-filled jumper, shaking his hand with the velocity of a wet lettuce? Or would you stroll up to him with a white, glistening smile, laced in a diamond-encrusted tuxedo and grip his hand with the force of King Kong clinging onto special-edition banana cookies? Probably the second option because you'd want to make an entrance. It's the same with an essay - you've picked your style, you've picked your topic, now you need to start big with some intriguing questions and then tease the reader with some of the answers to those questions you'll be giving in the essay. Imagine yourself approaching the millionaire and dazzling him with some powerful statements, hooking him with some killer questions and then keeping him on the edge of his seat/throne by tantalising him with some answers. 

3) PEE

The next step is PEE! No, wait! Let go of that zipper and reverse away from the toilet. PEE is an acronym and it stands for POINT, EVIDENCE, EXPLAIN. As you start to convince the millionaire to depart from his handfuls of sweet-smelling mula, you need to have a kind of rhythm, a flow and a structure to your arguments. The same is true of an essay - for each paragraph, you want to have a POINT relating to the main argument; for example, I need this money to open a kitten theme park. You then want to back up your point with EVIDENCE - something to illustrate and beef up your point. For example - in France, kitten theme parks attract 100 customers per second. You then want to end by taking some time to EXPLAIN - this means linking your example back to the main point, explaining why it's relevant. So you might say - if the French kitten theme park attracts so many paying customers per second, it could end up generating you another million dollars. 

4) Conclusion

Finally, to close the deal - you want to leave in style, not smack your forehead into the door on the way out. A good conclusion is a reminder and then some; so at this point in the essay you want to remind the reader of your main points and then leave them with something to think about, something that makes your piece memorable.  

When you get given a topic and a word count, it can feel daunting and overwhelming, but even the most complex essay can be broken down into the 4 key components. 

Essay writing is a skill, the more you practice the better you become and now you have a strategy before putting pen to paper, so get writing!