I need some essay structure advice

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by sikkinixx, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. sikkinixx macrumors 68020


    Jul 10, 2005
    Rocketing through the sky!
    Alright, I am about to start writing my 30-40 page history essay. I have all the research done, dozens of pages of notes and all that jazz.

    Biggest issue is I don't know how to structure it. It's my first essay over 18-20 pages so I think I'm a little paranoid. Basically, my essay focuses on three pagans and how their religious and political beliefs affected their interactions with a growing Christian influence in Roman society. It's wordy, I know, I need to clarify it a bit.

    Anyway, it's basically a compare and contrast essay, I know need to look at their backgrounds, education, political and religious beliefs etc.

    But what I am unsure of is if I should kind of pair them up, explain the background details of all three, then look at the political/religious beliefs of all three, then.... blah blah. I worry that this might get a little sloppy.

    Or... maybe I should basically make a mini-essay for one person, then move onto the second, then onto the third, each of which talks about all I want to say on that person. I am kind of favoring this approach since I think it would flow better for each individual but I am worried that by the time the reader gets to pagan #3, they will kind of forget everything I said about #1. I mean, it will only be 8-10 pages on each person since I need an intro/conclusion as well as some pages to contextualize the time period but I'm unsure...

    Any suggestions?
  2. mags631 Guest

    Mar 6, 2007
    What is your thesis? While the mini-essay approach might be easier to write, you will likely end up with 3 separate papers with an introduction and conclusion stuck on the front and end; normally such a paper will not yield a great grade.

    You may want to think about breaking the paper into specific areas of comparison and discuss each pagan in each area and then conclude what you are arguing based on your analysis.
  3. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    I would take a look at this book. At first glance it seems pretty simplistic, but it's great for helping to focus and find a structure. Your uni library probably has it.

    There's a 3-part question in it (p 45 in the edition I have) that's especially good for narrowing things down and giving you a point of departure.

    I'm studying x

    ...because I want to find out y...

    ...so that my readers can better understand z.

    Basically, the book says that once you've decided what to write about, you have to ask yourself "so what?". The 3-step question is a formula for answering "so what". And once you know the answer, you have more of a purpose that helps you use all those notes you took.

    From what you write, it sounds like you've got x and y down. Maybe if you can put z into words, a structure will start to suggest itself.
  4. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    ah the good ole days...when i had questions about school...I would ask the teacher/professor...

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