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Study Guide : Jasper Jones: How to plan an essay

A guide to help in the study of the novel 'Jasper Jones' by Craig Silvey

How to plan an essay : Writing steps

Plan your essay   

Once you understand exactly what you have to do to answer your essay question, you're ready to start planning and researching.

Do this well and you'll have no trouble writing your essay.

How to plan an essay : Essay Plan

Write an essay plan

A good essay plan helps you arrange your ideas logically and stay on track during the writing process.

Your plan should state how you're going to prove your argument, including the evidence you're going to use. Structure your plan around the different parts of an essay. To do this:

  • Write your argument in one sentence at the top of the page – you'll flesh this out into your introduction.
  • Write three or four key points that you think will support your argument. Try to write each point in one sentence. These will become your topic sentences.
  • Under each point, write down one or two examples from your research that support your point. These can be quotes, paraphrased text from reliable authors, etc. Remember to reference your examples when you write up your essay.
  • Finally, write the main point you want to leave in your reader's mind – that's your conclusion.  


How to plan an essay : Essay Structure

Essay structure

Essays are structured differently depending on the question and the subject, but some elements are common to most essays.

You can plan and write more efficiently if you understand what each element does:

  • the introduction tells the reader the point you're going to prove
  • the body is where you discuss your argument and give examples to illustrate your key points
  • the conclusion drives your argument home by describing how you've done what you said you were going to do.

How to plan an essay : Form your argument

Form an argument

Your argument is the message you want your reader to remember when they finish reading. When writing an essay, you need to set up a clear argument in the introduction and develop it in the body of the essay. 

A good argument :

  • is objective and avoids biased language
  • can be summed up in one sentence
  • communicates why you think your argument is right
  • is interesting and convincing.

If the essay question is testing work you've covered in class, you might already know what you think about the topic. Research is then about finding evidence to back up this point of view.

If the question is asking you to find out new information, it's often harder to come up with a clear argument. If you're not sure what you think about a topic, start reading and let the information you find guide your essay.

Keep an open mind

Whatever your opinion about a topic, it's important to be open to different points of view during your research. If most of the information you find disagrees with your argument, consider changing your point of view – after all, your essay has to be shaped by the evidence you find.

Using quotes in an essay

How to plan an essay : Quotes

Find & record quotes

An essay isn't just a list of facts – you need quotes and examples from books, websites, people and other resources to prove your argument.

There's no one place to find good quotes. However, once you begin your research, you'll start noticing parts of the text that would add to your essay. Record them in your essay plan, so you can see how they work with each paragraph, and with your essay as a whole.

You never know which quotes you'll need later, so copy and paste into a Word™ document the bibliographical information of all the quotes you find. When you finish writing, tidy up this list and your bibliography's done

Quoting conventions

When using quotes, you need to follow certain conventions so that your reader can tell where the quote begins and ends. Quotes are usually referenced like this;

To quote a word, phrase or short passage:

  • use single quotation marks ['...'] at the beginning and end of the quote
  • use double quotations marks ["..."] around a second quote if you're using a quote referenced in another quote.

To quote a long passage or speech:

  • begin on a new line
  • indent the quote
  • don't use quote marks
  • start the sentence following the quote on a new line.
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