Essay writing has been a part of education for countless generations. Like language in general it applies to so many parts of our life that it is hard to imagine any area not touched by it. Yet for all its history and tradition of use there are some aspects of essay writing that change over time, just as there are some foundational principles that never seem to age.
Clarity might seem an obvious goal these days, but it was not always so. Flamboyant writing was once the fashion, a tradition that continues with many of today’s sensationalized tabloids. It doesn’t take much to realize that this tends to cover up a lack of information and insight; sensationalism tends to be half-truths with minimal structure. Once we might have seen this as style over substance, but these days even the style isn’t very well regarded. For one thing the flamboyant style says the same regardless of the content. By contrast, good writing uses its style to carry the content more effectively. If it seems a little straightforward at times it’s because the writer is actually matching things up effectively. We don’t appreciate neatness until we see the contrasting entropy. We don’t notice the editing in a film till the scenes seem disjointed. Likewise, good writing only seems easy. We don’t see the effort or skill behind it.
The method of introducing a topic, discussing it in the body of an essay, and then providing a conclusion largely goes unquestioned except by a few linguists and philosophers. It’s because it was never an arbitrary convention, but a structure that reflects how humans think. Our lives are not as neat and structured as a book or film, but our recollections, autobiographies and histories of those same lives are structured in a way that makes sense to us. There might be some inaccuracy in the brevity of it all- the history of the hundred year war cannot take a hundred years to read – but without structure we are left at least a little confused. There is as much stripping away of the less essential as there is in ascertaining the relevant information when it comes to producing a good film, diary entry or essay. The right facts are in the appropriate structure.
Writing has a principle that carries over to other areas, one that falls between art and craft. Websites are made to be simple, easy and effective for people who visit them, not necessarily for the people who create them. Films are designed for direct intelligibility for the viewer, not for the writers and editors who structure them into such easy to understand forms. Likewise, essays are written for the reader, and are meant to be straightforward for the reader. It takes a lot for a writer to get a huge tangle of information into such a succinct final form.
Today’s blog post was supplied by North Shore Debating and Public Speaking Academy. North Shore Debating is specialized in the developing of verbal communication and provides debating lessons, tutoring classes, Drama school, Essay Writing, Public Speaking at Chatswood, Sydney.