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How to title an essay: basic academic requirements

First and foremost, a literal essay is a measure of the intellectual development of an examinee and a mirror of his or her aesthetic taste. This represents the final form of your academic work, the answer to why you are studying the English language and literature in the first place. It shows your knowledge of works of art, about which you write, the ability to analyze them, the maturity of your judgment as well as the breadth of critical vision. The independent work with texts and critical literature provides insight into the author's intent and the understanding of an objective meaning of the work of art. All the previously said explains why one of the main requirements to the composition is a logical harmony of its presentation. This primarily means that the topic should be disclosed clearly, convincingly, and the deepest parts of the work must be linked. At the same time, transitions from one thought to another must be consistent, whereas convincing judgments – reasonable and conclusive. The main idea of the work should be developed according to the plan (although the plan itself should not necessarily be written). It is important to analyze not only the ideological content of the work but also its artistic sides and benefits. The works of entrants do not always meet the aforementioned requirements.

Before answering - How to title an essay? - we should discuss a matter that is no less important. How exactly can we classify essays and writing assignments? All works can be divided into three main groups: English classic literature (XI-XIX centuries), the XX century literature and free themes, which involve the use of journalism, the author's personal observations, or even an absolutely free choice of literary source. Equally important is the classification of works by their shape. According to this methodology written works are divided into three genre-based kinds, namely: description, narration and argument, each of which has its peculiar specifics. For instance, the transfer of the overall impression of the object (a phenomenon or character), followed by the disclosure of certain of its features is characteristic for description; at the same time, a story about some event (an episode from someone's life or a case), which is deployed in time is characteristic for narrative; finally, argument is based on the ability of a student to think independently and defend his or her point of view. Nevertheless, practical experience shows that in each case a student's essay contains, partially, description and narration, and argument as well. Genre features are determined not only by the theme of choice, material nature of works of art but also by a method of presentation, in other words, how exactly an author analyzes the events, phenomena and heroes presented in the book. Individuality and originality of the written works depend on the talent of an author, his or her way of thinking. The specific nature of a genre is often determined by the pathos of the works (patriotic, lyrical, comic, polemical, satirical), that is, by the emotional mood that the composition tries to generate. Depending on these factors, even the most difficult essay about a literary character can be written in the genre of characteristic written piece with elements of critical analysis, lyrical confession, literary portrait sketching and with profound judgments about the main character of the masterpiece. Simultaneously, written pieces with analytical options are often drawn in the genre of small literary-critical articles, reviews, literary critical evaluation, etc. Ultimately, creative written works on a free topic can be made in the form of stories, reportage, notes, memoirs, literary travels, journalistic articles and diary entries.

How to title an essay: stages of writing

So, we have established that to write an essay means to convey in a systematic form a series of thoughts and facts stated from a certain angle, with a reasoned explanation of the author's perspective. But how to title an essay and what are the stages of the writing process? It seems, there are at least four main steps, which should be taken by any literary researcher in order to accomplish a successful piece of writing, namely:

  • I. The reflection of the knowledge of a topic, the definition of the borders revealing its contents. Take, for example, the following theme: “My favorite characters of Leo Tolstoy's novel " War and Peace"”. What is the range of problems that is contained in this topic? Having determined the range of issues we have outlined the key milestones, which should assist as in opening the theme, that is, in making a plan of the work.
  • II. The statement of the main ideas (leading thoughts) of the work. You have to ask yourself: What do I want to say with my work? With what conclusions I should come up revealing the topic? The basic idea (leading thought) of a composition should be formulated as a thesis: clearly, openly and categorically. This thesis is a direct answer to the topic question.
  • III. The selection of arguments to prove the main idea (thesis) of the written work and the arrangement of them in order to substantiate the thesis. The proof can take a deductive form: first, you state a thesis (general idea), then express the private thoughts (arguments) developing the general idea. The latter means that general thoughts should go first and be followed by private or inductive ones. Usually, exams offer themes which allow a student to choose the deductive way of their disclosure. From the definition of the thesis the student writing an essay goes to the arguments that justify the given thesis; arguments appear in a specific order, which is known as the structure of a composition.
  • IV. The selection of the actual material and citations. We encourage you to learn by heart the most suitable quotes for the confirmation of texts accomplished. This primarily refers to verse passages. With regard to the extracts from works of fiction or literary-critical articles, which are more difficult to memorize, they can be expressed in your own words, of course, and not to be enclosed in quotation marks. Otherwise, inaccurate citations can be regarded as a factual error.

Thus, the main part of your work is the thesis and arguments. If you do not follow this requirement, your essay will be written badly or completely miss the point stated by the topic, and so on. You have to understand what obliges you to follow every word in the formulation of the theme. An answer to the question posed by the theme should be exhaustive and reveal to the reader the whole range of issues contained in the subject.


How to title an essay: other parts of your written work

Now, when you have at your disposal a complete knowledge on how to title an essay we recommend you to pay deliberate attention to other parts of your composition, which are no less important for your grade. Thus, an introduction is necessary as it prepares the reader for the main part. If the introduction fails to perform such a function, it is much better for a student to find another way round and proceed without it. Mechanically tied to the main part, a badly written introduction often violates the compositional and logical harmony. In the traditional introductory parts the writer tells us about when the work was written, or gives a brief description of the writer's work perspective, thus determining the analytical value of the work. Quite often, an introduction sets out the views of the author towards the center of the work in question. An interesting, non-traditional and non-standard introduction can illuminate the theme of the work in a gripping and promising manner.

The most common genre is a characteristic essay. It requires a deep reflection not only on the composition image system but also on each individual hero. The writing should be an excited thinking process about the moral ideals, deeds, actions, relationships with other people of both the main hero and supplementary characters. It is necessary to trace the evolution of a character in the development of each scene, identify his or her individual, unique features that characterize the identity of that character. Author's digressions will help a student focus at the time in which the hero lives, as well as on his or her way of life, feelings, experiences, anything that the author does to expose the hero as a living person. The narrative part itself must combine reasonable, logical judgments involving bright scenes, pictures and reflections of the heroes.

The chief aim of a conclusion is to give the composition a finished look, and in this way, it can be summarized and accurately ended. The only thing you need to do is repeat briefly the main ideas provided the main part (the conclusion may contain extracts from the text). As a rule, both opening and closing parts should be very concise and right to the matter. An epigraph is a short saying (or short quote) put before the main body of a composition that characterizes the main idea of the work. The use of an epigraph is possible, but not required in the composition.

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