Yesterday, while I was perusing the twitters, I came across an article that was retweeted by a teacher friend of mine. The article is entitled “How To Write A Great Essay About Anything”.
The writer outlines what a well-structured essay looks like. He uses the analogy of the Spartan fighters who used a square battle formation, putting their reader and their main point in the middle of the square, and protecting the centre from all sides. It makes much more sense when you go read his explanation than my poor excuse for a summary, so if you’re intrigued, you can go read it here: http://t.co/KX2LvyeQ4f
It reminded me of another academic writing tip that I received from one of my favourite lecturers while I was in teacher training college. She introduced us to the formula PREP, which stands for Point, Reason, Evidence, Paraphrase.
So basically, a good paragraph consists of these four essential ingredients, in that order. Firstly, your paragraph needs to have a point. What are you trying to say or argue through that paragraph? (e.g. - Teaching is fun.) Then, give a reason for your point. (e.g. - This is because a lot of activities can be done in the classroom that are both interesting and rewarding.) After that, you give evidence to support your claim. (e.g. - In teaching English, we can use language games, songs and even movies to help convey the content that we want to get across to the students.) Lastly, you paraphrase your point. (e.g. - There is indeed fun to be had in the classroom.)
Those four ingredients make up the bare bones of your paragraph, and if you are able to get your points in order, those points become the bare bones of your essay. The final thing to do is just execute. PREP has helped me and numerous other classmates get through writing assignments throughout our studies, and to that particular lecturer, we say thank you very much.
When I look back at how I write my blog pieces though, I don’t write in that format. Indeed, I don’t even know that I have a format when writing a blog piece. What I basically try to do in my blog posts is to get down in writing what is going through my mind, and how I think up of the points and words are usually how they end up on the page.
So my blogposts are not really essays per se, since they’re not trying to sell you anything. I’m not trying to put forth an argument and getting you to believe me. Most of the times, I’m just trying to tell you what’s been on my mind, and if it comes off argumentative-like, then it wasn’t by intention. That’s merely how it ended up sounding like.
So in that sense, it is closer to creative writing than academic writing, since I’m just writing to express. And if that makes my writing not great, then I’m alright with it.