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Home » How to Write a Reflective Essay – Writing Tips to Help You Get Started

How to Write a Reflective Essay – Writing Tips to Help You Get Started

Reflective essays, sometimes also called creative essays, are a subset of creative writing, which is a larger category that includes fiction, non-fiction, and drama. A reflective essay is a piece of non-fiction that explores your own thoughts and opinions on a topic, or the topic itself changes according to what you as the author discover about yourself as you write the piece.

You might be familiar with some of the topics a reflective essay could explore; things like your hobbies, your favorite movies or books, or the type of music you enjoy creating or listening to. More recently, though, universities have been asking their students to write reflective essays about various topics related to politics, society, and culture. While it is perfectly acceptable to write a reflective essay about any of these topics, it’s become quite fashionable to write them about cultural aspects of your life, such as your country’s history or politics, or the social norms and values surrounding certain topics like casual sex or sexuality. Reflective essays are often times more successful when they explore controversial topics, such as race, religion, or politics, so be sure to choose your topic accordingly. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are writing for your own edification and improvement, so do not hesitate to explore any topic you are interested in, no matter how controversial or sensitive it might be.

The Anatomy Of A Reflective Essay

Like any other type of creative writing, the structure of a reflective essay is quite open-ended, and it will probably follow a sequence of events that leads eventually to a climax and a resolution. The first step in structuring your essay is to list the various topics you are considering exploring. You might start with a short list of your top three or four choices, and then build from there. Remember, this is a brainstorming session, and you are not limited to four topics. After you’ve come up with your initial ideas, you can either stick with them or add additional ones. What you decide to do will depend on the particular assignment you’ve been asked to complete, but as a general rule of thumb, the more topics you choose, the more ambitious and successful your essay is likely to be. When you’ve got your list of topics finalized, take a deep breath, because the next step is to start organizing and planning your essay. You will not be able to jump right into writing your essay without first laying out the structure and the general theme of what you are trying to accomplish. This is where your brainstorming session will really pay off, because now that you have your list of topics you can begin to shape and form them into a coherent plan. Your plan should include everything from where you are going to start (usually the first paragraph) to what you are going to include in your essay (the end). By laying out your plan, you are able to ensure that you do not leave anything out, and you are also able to connect the various parts of your essay to each other. Your outline should be logical and easy to follow, and it should highlight the various themes you are going to address in your essay. Your outline should not be longer than two or three pages, and it should be as detailed as possible. If you are planning on using this as a sample for a publication, be sure to get the permission of the original author before doing anything else. This permission will ensure you do not misrepresent the work.

The First Paragraph: Hook, Hook, And More Hook

The first paragraph of your essay is usually the most crucial, and it is also the part that determines whether your readers continue or abandon your work. The first paragraph will almost certainly be the shortest part of your essay, and it is also the part that is the least likely to be choppy or difficult to read. This is because the first paragraph usually serves the dual purpose of both establishing your main thesis (the idea or topic you are exploring) and providing your readers with some small detail about you as a person. Your main thesis should be a concise and direct statement of the problem or question you are solving using this essay. Make sure to keep your readers focused on the topic by including only those details that are necessary to support your thesis. For example, if you are writing about the environment, make sure to include information about the various types of pollution that are threatening the planet, or the various ways in which the environment has been abused. A general rule of thumb for the first paragraph is to keep it as close to the following formula as possible: Problem – Cause – Effect

A very simple and direct way of writing your first paragraph is to use the I-Ching, or the “Ying-Yang” method. Begin by identifying the problem you are trying to solve (the environment is a classic example). Next, you will want to identify the cause of this problem (the various ways humans are affecting the environment). Finally, you will want to establish the effect this problem is having on you, the reader (in most cases, the reader will be yourself, but it depends on the particular assignment you are doing). Keep in mind that you are trying to write a successful essay here, and the more you can keep to the formula above, the better. You should also make sure that your first paragraph is interesting and draws the reader into your work. If you can solve a problem that has never bothered you before, then it is highly likely you will not find this essay boring. The above formula also applies to the title of your essay. For example, if you are writing about the environment, you might title your essay “The Harmful Effect Of Advertising On Fashion”. Keep the title catchy and interesting, and make sure to include enough information for your readers to understand what you are trying to convey. You could also include a quote or two from famous people, perhaps a politician, an author, or a thinker. These people should have something interesting to say about the topic you have chosen, and make sure to include their unique insights or points of view on the matter at hand. You can also include links or information about other topics that are related to your main thesis. Be sure to verify the authenticity of these sources before using them. Sometimes well-known websites and news outlets misrepresent facts or pull statistics out of context to sensationalize a story. Do not be afraid to cite your sources, if you are using any, but do not rely on them to the point of abuse. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the internet. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure that your first paragraph is a good introduction to what is to come. Remember, you are not writing a book, and your essay is just a small part of it. You want to keep your readers interested and engaged throughout the entire essay. This is why it is so important to write a good first paragraph. In conclusion, keep your first paragraph simple, straight-forward, and to the point. You want to leave the reader confident that they have got the gist of what you are trying to say, and that they will want to continue. As you can see, the first paragraph is a very important part of your essay, and it deserves your utmost attention. Pay close attention to how you’ve written it, and be sure to work on improving it until you’ve got it just right.

The Rest Of The Paper: Body, Mind, And Soul

As you’ve probably guessed, the rest of your paper is quite likely to be the longest part of your essay. This is because your readers are going to have to wade through a lot of material to get to your point. You want to make sure that each part of your paper is contributing something to the larger whole, so take your time and do not be afraid to be detailed. Your remaining sections should help support your main thesis, or the idea you are exploring, and should also connect to each other. The body of your paper is going to include all the information you’ve collected or come across regarding your topic. Make sure to include everything you have on the subject, and do not forget about any details or points you’ve made in your previous paragraphs. In most cases, the body of your paper is going to be a compilation of various facts and figures related to your subject, though quite often, the bulk of your body will consist of quotes and excerpts from various sources. Your paper’s body should be as extensive as possible, without being bloated or boring. Finally, like your first paragraph, the body of your paper should also be filled with unique insights or unique viewpoints. As you can see, the body of your essay is quite important, and it deserves your utmost attention. Pay close attention to how you’ve written it, and be sure to work on improving it until you’ve got it just right.