Let’s face it. Oftentimes, writing essays sucks. Usually, we’re forced to write about things we don’t care about, do research about things we don’t care about, and attempt to care about what we don’t care about. This isn’t true for everyone; nor is it true for every class that we have to write an essay for, but a lot of the dread associated with writing comes out of being forced to write about something that we don’t have any interest in.
However, a neat trick that I know several of our tutors use to make writing essays a little easier and less dull is to get creative with their essays. Check out how they break the five paragraph mold and spice up their essays.
Dan: I’ll often try to use an odd example or incorporate an anecdote into the story in some way. For me, the introduction is often the most effective and most appropriate place to try something creative in a formal essay.
Nicole: I try to put in as much imagery as I can in my essays. Creating engaging images for the reader is often more fun than just listing facts.
Katie: I play with the tone and style of my writing. Sometimes I’ll write my paper as if I am a PhD student, explaining my research in a straightforward, scientific way. For other papers, I let my feelings about a topic steer my writing, and I take a much more relaxed or emotional tone. The authors of readings for class often have diverse writing styles; I often try to model my writing after theirs. It doesn’t matter what the prompt is—I can try something different with every paper I write. Isn’t that what college is for: trying new things?
Tammie: I get creative with formal essays by choosing the most out-there idea I can think of. I try to incorporate my personal voice, and examine sources that seem to address concepts that have been looked over or discarded.
Phillip: I like to be creative with the title of my essays. I one time had to write a history paper about Marie Antoinette and I entitled the paper “Marie Antoinette: Monarch or Moron?,” which my teacher liked so much she gave me a bonus point just for using the word “moron.” Recently, I had to write a paper for my management class about listening, something that could be dull to read. Ultimately, I wrote about a fight I had with one of my project groups (and how I applied listening skills to find a resolution). I entitled that piece “Super Fun Fight” in homage to Rebel Wilson’s new show Super Fun Night. I like to play around with titles and make them stand out.
Try taking a different approach to your formal essays next time. Who knows? You might even find that you like writing.