Dear forum visitors,

I have already posted this in some other forums but I think it is not so ugly to consider it my little contribution to your English writing community.

Seems as though most of you are bored with reading ready essay samples accompanied with help-me-correct-this appeals. You have been learning English and would rather look into the innards of essay creation process to get something useful for your own improvement. So would I.

I’d like to present my strategy to go about essay writing. If you do not like, tell me why. If you do, I am glad to be helpful.

Well, here is the task I found in a textbook on IELTS.

Enormous effort is put into researching and marketing 'the perfect potato crisp' while research into stress at work, for example, is ignored. How important are staff working conditions? Should employers research and improve the working conditions of their staff or should they concentrate more on their product?

The question as it stands implies you should speculate about what comes first – product or workers?
So it is an opinion essay.

If you decided on an opinion essay, give it a proper structure.

1) Introduction is a must. You don’t believe you could get a good grade without introduction, do you?
2) 3 paragraphs are also necessary – three is a magical number. It can do wonders to your overall band score.
3) Conclusion. You do not want to infuse your examiner with a feeling of incompleteness.

My opinions

I will try to be positive about work force. They really deserve to be cared about. I hope you feel the same. Some scholars call it brainstorming. Let’s storm our brains.

First of all, you should not wander off trying to find ideas in the darkest parts of your mind. We will get some obvious hints right from the assignment.

“Enormous effort is put into researching and marketing 'the perfect potato crisp'…” – Brilliant!
“research into stress at work, for example, is ignored …” – Could not be stated better!
“How important are staff working conditions?...” – Oh! We know what you are up to. Of course they are!
“Should employers research and improve the working conditions of their staff?” Lots of thanks, you’ve been most helpful providing ideas.
“… should they concentrate more on their product?...” Devious, but thank you anyway for bringing it up again.

I think they have already written the better part of the essay. We should only rephrase these expressions to avoid the offence of plagiarism.

Inquisitive minds will easily complete the list of ideas with their own suggestions. Hard thinkers like myself might as well stop brainstorming right here.

I know, I know – you are going to blame me for this, because it is not sufficient to develop 3 paragraphs.
But brainstorming never ends. I am far from assuming that you will stop thinking after 5 minutes of initial excessive brain work and will begin writing down words in mechanical way dreaming of buying a new car.
There is also vocabulary building part, and you have a clear structure of your essay.

Opinion = in support of workers

Introduction – topic and opinion in short
Paragraph 1 - staff working conditions are important
Paragraph 2 - employers should research and improve the working conditions
Paragraph 3 - concentrating more on their product is bad
Conclusion – short summary of paragraphs

Rephrasing ideas

In my opinion, it is the hardest part. It is about your vocabulary, so nothing we can do but remember some basic expressions. If you get stuck, just write down whatever comes to your mind looking at the key words of the assignment. You will sort it out later on. Some of the words you will insert into sentences, the rest will stay untouched. It surely pays off; you would not bother thinking of necessary vocabulary as you write.

Example vocabulary

Key words:

research analyze, explore, inquire, investigate, look into, study
marketing advertising, promoting, pushing products
working condition situation, state, work load
stress at work pressure, nervous tension, difficulty; hardness, strain
ignore disregard, do not take into account, close the eyes to
employers managers, bosses
staff work force, personnel, employees
concentrate on the product consider closely, direct attention, fix attention, focus, give attention

do a lot of damage to overall productivity
friendly environment

Beginning to write

Introduction.

Earlier, we agreed to fight against staff overload. Let state the problem and introduce our opinion.
(Simply speaking, let’s rewrite the assignment).

Nowadays, most businesses concerned primarily with improving and pushing products at all costs, therefore neglecting the strain this strategy puts on their personnel. I believe it is of vital importance to restrain excessive work load. I also think employers should pay more attention to organizing friendly working environment for their employees.

OK, it is sleeping time… I am tired and will have no more of this nonsense.
If you are not satisfied call my customer service, otherwise look forward to the next part – Paragraphs.

P.S. I might be absolutely wrong. Feel free to destroy my carefully thought-out system, but don’t forget to suggest something more useful instead. I will appreciate if you supply supporting ideas for the paragraphs of the essay according to my plan.

Regards,

Dmitrij.
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Dmitrij, thank you very much indeed! I am sure that your comments will be very helpful to our members. I look forward to 'Paragraphs'-- please post it on this same thread for easy reference.
Thank you very, very mutch! It will help me a lot!
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Dear friends,

It’s me again. Sorry, I was away on business, but now I am back to discover some encouraging replies on my last post. Thank you.

OK, let’s pick up our tutorial where we stopped.

PARAGRAPHS …

Sounds frightening… But we’ll make it if we follow simple rules.

The first rule - KEEP IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE

Be practical – simple ideas come easy and take less effort to develop.
Don’t be tempted to amaze your examiner with profound knowledge of slang, idioms and pedantic words. Different styles, used in one essay, may produce a funny alienating mixture. Of course, I wouldn’t vote for dull writing. A bit of variety never hurts.

The second rule – DEVELOP YOUR PARAGRAPHS

A good paragraph must have
1) Topic sentence (statement)
2) Arguments – 3 arguments advisable, each followed by
3) Supporting details
4) Transition words and markers

To illustrate this, let’s suppose a model task.

How could I make you put off by my repulsive appearance? I really need to be persuasive.

I could arrange it in order of development steps.

THE WORST

I am ugly (only statement, undeveloped - no arguments, no supporting details).

SLIGHTLY BETTER

I am ugly. I am old, bald and untidy (statement, 3 arguments, no supporting details)

MUCH BETTER

Statement - I am ugly.

Argument1 - I am old.
Supporting detail 1 - I was born before the World War II.

Argument 2 - I am bald.
Supporting detail 2 - You could see your reflection in the top of my head.

Argument 3 - I am untidy.
Supporting detail 3 - I have dirty marks all over my clothes.

Summary
(The gaps are here to be filled in with additional words that make your writing smooth or cohesive.)

… I am ugly. … I am old. I was born before the World War II. … I am bald. You could see your reflection in the top of my head. … I am untidy. I have dirty marks all over my clothes.

THE BEST

(transition words and markers added)

In my opinion, I am ugly. First of all, I am old. I was born before the World War II. Secondly, I am bald. You could see your reflection in the top of my head. Finally, I am untidy. I have dirty marks all over my clothes.

Of course, you may go further and link a pair “argument – example” into one sentence using additional transitions, but it would not change the idea of the paragraph and, therefore, up to you to decide.

OK, let’s go on to our task and apply our strategy to the first paragraph.

Task

Enormous effort is put into researching and marketing 'the perfect potato crisp' while research into stress at work, for example, is ignored. How important are staff working conditions? Should employers research and improve the working conditions of their staff or should they concentrate more on their product?

Introduction (refer to my previous post)

Nowadays, most businesses are concerned primarily with improving and pushing products at all costs, therefore neglecting the strain this strategy puts on their personnel. I believe it is of vital importance to restrain excessive work load. I also think employers should pay more attention to organizing friendly working environment for their employees.

First paragraph

In my point of view, conditions that employers provide for their personnel are very important. Fist of all, uncomfortable offices affect the pace of work. Extra efforts to keep everything organized may become the biggest time wasters. Secondly, inconvenient timetables influence labour productivity. Repetitive long hours at work get workers exhausted. Finally, relations between managers and employees matter. Unfriendly atmosphere undermine self-esteem, co-operation and ability of staff to come up with creative ideas.

Well guys, I really need to go. Thank you all for reading this. I hope you find this intelligible.
If not – smash your screen, I will compensate for it!

P.S coming next time – TIMING ISSUES, THE REST OF ESSAY.

P.S. P.S.
Strange enough, I tried to format some of my lines to attract your attention and make the overall structure of the article readable, but seems as though formatting symbols don’t work here. Worst of it, some of the HTML symbols and Emoticons overlap. I can see a mug of beer, a broken heart in the preview window, and no beer, no heart, no bold or underlined words in the final view.

Regards,

Dmitrij.
Thank you again, Dmitrij, for your insights into essay composition. I have added a link to this thread to my Announcement post at the head of the Writing Forum menu page, so I hope you will continue to expand upon your tutorial in this thread-- at your convenience, of course. Many people will be reading, though perhaps not many will actually comment.
Hello everybody,

This is the final part of my work.

Timing issues and MY ESSAY

Time could kill your essay as well as bad structure and poor vocabulary. But do not try to kill time yourself. Allow no more than a minute for panicking, sweating and jittering, then stop. Has it put down a single word for you? I guess no.

If at the end of your panicking session the only sentence that comes to your mind is “What am I going to do?” look at your watch. Notice down the time. Set 10 minutes for completing what I have already described in my first post. I strongly advise you against exceeding the 10-minute limit for this part. No use trying to cram down a further lot of information if you have no time to develop it. What is done is done. Take the next step – paragraphs.

Another 30 minutes should be wisely distributed. Time you will spend on each paragraph depends on your ability to produce consistent chunks of text approximately 50 – 70 words in length. The words left to build up a 250 word essay might be divided between the introduction and conclusion. In my case it takes about 7-8 minutes per paragraph.

Several minutes (6 to 9) to the deadline might be devoted to writing a short conclusion and proofreading

Well, that’s how it works.

Actually, I didn’t try to work against the clock since I had been writing this essay on separate occasions. But I have done it for educational purposes and it has proved itself viable under time pressure.

Task

Enormous effort is put into researching and marketing 'the perfect potato crisp' while research into stress at work, for example, is ignored. How important are staff working conditions? Should employers research and improve the working conditions of their staff or should they concentrate more on their product?

Essay

Nowadays, most businesses are concerned primarily with improving and pushing products at all costs, therefore neglecting the strain this strategy puts on their personnel. I believe it is of vital importance to restrain excessive work load. I also think employers should pay more attention to organizing friendly working environment for their employees.

In my point of view, conditions that employers provide for their personnel are very important. First of all, uncomfortable offices affect the pace of work. Extra efforts to keep everything organized may become the biggest time wasters. Secondly, inconvenient timetables influence labour productivity. Repetitive long hours at work get workers exhausted. Finally, relations between managers and employees matter. Unfriendly atmosphere undermine self-esteem, co-operation and ability of staff to come up with creative ideas.

I convinced that researching and improving employees working conditions is rewarding. To begin with, improving workplace is an integral part of effective personnel policy. It helps a company become the employer of choice for skilled workers. Furthermore, neglecting to monitor the wellness of staff leads to extra expenses since more workers would use the insurance plan. Finally, businesses seeking efficiency should gather information on the latest advances in work space ergonomics. Strong competition forces employers to upgrade staff work areas to boost the performance of staff.

I also feel that concentrating solely on the product is ineffective. For one thing, marketing, even most aggressive, would not make the product any better. “The perfect potato crisp” results from the work of well-trained staff. For another, companies overlooking workers’ needs in favour of merchandise are unstable. Staff retention problems restrain the company’s potential to come regularly on the marker with new offers. At last, neglecting staff damages the reputation of a manufacturer. Customers might refuse buying a product, if they know it is made through hard exploitation of workers.

To summarize, employers should accept working conditions as being very important to successful company development. Disregarding researching and improving working conditions undermines enormous effort put into promotion of the product.

That’s it for my tutorial. You should be aware that I am neither a teacher nor a native speaker of English.
I have just laid out the strategy originated from my experience and textbooks on IELTS. It helped me overcome “an essay block” and I hope it will do you good as well.

Thank you for your patience,

Dmitrij.
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Thank you again for taking the time to put down your insights on essay writing. I have learned a lot from your comments, and I am sure that many other members will also-- not just now but future thread surfers as well.

Well done!
Hi friends,

Thank you for reading my posts. Best wishes to Mr. Micawber, whose encouraging words had kept my enthusiasm up throughout this thread. I think “Forum guru” is a perfectly justified definition for your position here. Thank you again.

Feel free to reply, I am still waiting for your ideas.

Regards,

Dmitrij.
Dmitrij had so much fun with his posts I have to put in my two cents too. :-)

I believe what Dmitrij discussed was what we call "paragraph sprawl". Definition: "paragraph sprawl is a problem with the way a paragraph works; that is, its sentences do not fit together tightly and focus on a central point. If your paragraphs go off in different directions, if you have put two or three unconnected ideas in one paragraph, or if several sentences in your paragraph could fit just as well in one place or another, you have a problem with paragraph sprawl." (Source: The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers)


e.g. People think that drug abuse is only the problem of adults, but it is not true. Nowadays, drug abuse among teenagers is a huge problem in the society. They try drugs because they are curious. Some of them believe that they will not be addicted to soft drugs . And they like to try new things. They believe that drugs are cool. Drug abuse has disastrous effects. So, drug abuse is a serious problem that our youngsters face.
That paragraph doesn't seem to go anywhere. Instead, try this instead: (I wrote this example, by the way)


Recent studies have dispelled the myth that drug abuse is merely a problem of grown-ups. (then cite examples and statistics) Results of 2004 Substance Abuse Survey for Teenagers came out last month, with sobering statistics that shocked even the most experienced school counselors: a whopping 55% of pollsters admitted to having tried soft drugs at least once during the past 12 months. While the majority of users tried it out of curiosity and did not consider themselves addicted users, a small portion of the respondents were serious addicts, and confessed that they, from time to time, took part in the illicit drug trade themselves to finance their habit.
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