How to Write an Essay that the Examiner Will Discuss with His Children at the Dining Table – For UPSC CSE Aspirants
- First paragraph is first impression. You don’t get a second chance. Keep an eye on your spelling, grammar and word choice. You are writing an essay in an exam hall. Don’t be a Mitron typing his Gyaan for his fellow WhatsApp University PhD. Scholars.
- Life is about connect. If your essay doesn’t connect with the human being in the examiner, you must accept that you are not doing it well. Put emotions and logic in your essay. Put a lot of daily life stuff and plain common sense on the page. Put humanity and humour.
- An essay is more than the sum of its parts. Look for tone, theme and structure. Look for continuity. The first sentence should lead to the second, the second to the third and the third to the next. The first paragraph should lead to the second, the second to the third and the third to the next. And the last paragraph should feel connected to the first one. If the last paragraph reads like Arnab Goswami, the first can’t read like Ravish Kumar.
- Read your sentences in your head. Reading your essay out loud in your head enables you to notice something that you might not have noticed if you were just reading it silently. Try to listen to your paragraphs objectively as you read them. Are you making some sense? Or are you simply stringing hundreds of words together just to fill a page?
- Use small, simple words. Don’t be a Shashi Tharoor. Don’t try to impress. Try to express. Please don’t strain your vocabulary, looking for fancy-sounding words. Less is always more. And effective. Pyrexia is a fever. Hypertension is high blood pressure. To utilize is to use.
- Construct your sentences well. Vary their length. Too many long sentences will make your writing unwieldy and boring. Too many short sentences will make it mechanical, choppy and confusing. Keep an eye on word choice, syntax and tone.
- Passive voice is mostly bad. You are not loved for that. Adjectives and adverbs are mostly useless. Mostly. Exclamation marks are so yesterday. Use concrete language rather than vague language. Don’t say I love you. Say your earlobes are beautiful.
- To be a good writer, you need to learn the rules of writing. But to be an interesting writer, you also need to learn when to break those rules. The important thing to know is that writing is about communicating. When a rule gets in the way of what you want to say, it’s better to toss that rule out – temporarily, at least.
- Research well. Know your material. When money speaks, Truth is silent. If this is the title of your essay, you better know what you should say and how. In 2000 odd words. Content is God.
- Writing is a skill. Can be learnt, can be practiced, can be improved. Good writing is simply always writing. Write when you’re sad or bored. Write when you’re scared or in a bad mood. Write when you don’t feel like writing. Write like a lover. Not like a babu.
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