Creating an Essay Plan: Based on the Example of The Lovely Bones

Creating an Essay Plan: Based on the Example of The Lovely Bones

How to structure an essay for school or university.

Writing an essay can sometimes feel like a daunting task. You have all the knowledge and ideas, but when it comes to putting them down on paper in a cohesive, engaging, and organized manner, it can be challenging. One of the key aspects that can make or break your essay is its structure. A well-structured essay can effectively portray your ideas and arguments, making it easy for the reader to understand your point of view. Conversely, a poorly structured essay can make even the most brilliant ideas seem confusing and disjointed.

To avoid this, students often turn to services where they can pay for essays. However, with a bit of planning and organization, you can structure your essay effectively. Here are three simple steps to help you plan your essay and improve its structure.

The Thesis

Every essay needs a point, a hypothesis, or some form of argument. This is called the thesis. It is the one overriding argument that the essay makes. Your paragraphs will each have unique points, but they will all point toward this thesis. The first step to choosing a thesis is to look at the essay topic.

For example:

“Writers often explore human experiences. Explain how a novel has used language techniques to explore a human experience. A human experience could include (but is not exclusive to) racism, grief, coming of age, or family.”

This essay question is a theme question. The first step to choosing your thesis in this case would be to pick a human experience that is relevant to the novel. For example, if studying The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Little, Brown & Company, 2002); the most obvious theme that is a ‘human experience’ would be grief. Now we want to turn our essay topic into a question that relates to both our chosen theme and novel.

For example:

“How has Alice Sebold used language techniques to portray the human experience of grief in her novel, The Lovely Bones?”

Turning the essay topic into a question, it gives us something to answer. This answer will become the thesis for the essay. To continue with The Lovely Bones novel, we can answer the essay question as such:

“Alice Sebold uses language techniques to show how grief can bring a family closer together, or tear them apart, in her novel The Lovely Bones.”

The above essay thesis addresses the essay topic, answers the created essay question, and creates a line of argument that can be explored with the paragraphs. The essay thesis will be the foundation for a strong essay structure.

Turning the Thesis into Paragraphs

From this thesis, we can create an essay plan that paragraphs will be based on. You will need to know how long your essay is expected to be. Excluding the introduction and conclusion, for this example, we will look at three paragraphs, but this format can be applied to as many paragraphs as necessary. What we want to create is three lines of argument that prove our thesis “Grief can bring a family closer together or tear them apart”. Here are three unique points, but all link to this argument:

  • Joe and Abigail are torn apart because of grief.
  • Susie and Joe are brought closer together because of grief.
  • Joe and Buckley are torn apart, then brought closer together because of grief.

Finding Evidence to Back Up Your Paragraph Statements

The above covers part of the thesis: ‘grief can bring a family closer together or tear them apart’, but the second half ‘language techniques’ is just as essential to consider when planning an essay. This part of the essay question/topic is the evidence that will prove your thesis. Without it, your essay will fall flat.

In this step, you need to find language techniques that prove these statements are true. For a plan, you do not need to go into great detail, but it is important to have some top-line ideas that back up your statements. Taking the paragraph statement “Joe and Buckley are torn apart, then brought closer together because of grief”, we need to find a technique in the novel that proves this. The ‘garden scenes’ may be the most appropriate to use as evidence of this. Buckley’s garden is a metaphor for his grief. 

When the garden is growing, it shows he is moving on, but when Joe upsets him, he stomps on the garden, crushing out his hope and bringing back his grief. This scene demonstrates how Joe and Buckley are pulled apart because of Joe’s grief. Another technique (or if possible the same metaphor) will be needed to show how Joe and Buckley are then brought back together because of grief.

It is important to be able to place a language technique beside each paragraph statement in your plan. Without it, writing the essay becomes difficult, and if it is not included you will not be answering the full question.

Wrapping Up

Students often struggle with essay structure even when they have good knowledge of the topic.

A strong structure is essential to effectively convey the essay’s point and logic.

An essay plan is the foundation of a good structure.

The first step is to determine the thesis, the main argument that the essay makes.

The thesis should be relevant to the essay topic and compatible with the chosen novel or text.

The thesis will form the basis for the paragraphs, and the plan should be designed according to the essay’s required length.

The paragraphs should support the thesis, and each one should focus on a unique argument that contributes to the essay’s overall point.

Each argument in the plan should be backed up with language techniques used in the novel or text.

It is common for students to go off-topic when answering essays, and the above steps will both prevent this and create a foundation for an excellent essay structure. In the end, knowing to answer the essay question is only half the battle. A strong essay plan is what will drive that knowledge home.

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