The purpose of an essay is to inform, convince, inspire or encourage a specific target group to take action. It is important here that you know how to delineate the subject of the essay and that you can use relevant insights from theoretical approaches and research results in an effective way to substantiate your own position. This means that you have sufficient substantive knowledge to make your point; that you formulate clearly and interestingly (language and text structure) and that you take into account the prior knowledge and interests of your audience. For a 500 words essay this is important.
The form of an essay is less fixed than with other text types such as a research report or a scientific article. Usually the author formulates a question or statement, after which he takes the reader through various possible answers and then argues which answer is the best. In preparation for writing an essay, it is therefore important that you first list the facts and look (roughly) at what others think of the subject. By using different sources you learn to approach the subject from different angles. You can fine-tune your own point of view based on a selection of the pros and cons. The argument structure is important here. A commonly used structure is the following:
The introduction has the important function of attracting the reader’s attention. It may be expected that the introduction invites further reading and gives direction to the argument. These two qualities of an introduction are enhanced by the title of the essay. After introducing the topic, the question or statement that you place at the center of your paper and a preview of the content of your argument follows.
To convince the reader of your statement or answer to the question asked, you provide evidence in the form of arguments. These arguments must be plausible. Try to explain what you mean step by step so that the reader can understand how you arrived at your point of view. In order to strengthen your own position, it is important to also put forward counter-arguments and refute them.
First of all, the conclusion includes the part of your text in which the main points are very briefly summarized, reformulated and linked together. The latter is very important: it must be clear to the reader how the various parts of your argument are related.
In the middle part you work out sub-questions on the basis of which you can come to a conclusion on your research question. For example, you can discuss the topic of your essay on the basis of the state of the art in the literature and put forward different views of other lawyers. Make sure you avoid including ‘unnecessary’ information in your essay. Furthermore, you can strongly substantiate the essay by first providing arguments for the answer to your research question, then against, and then refuting and disproving those counter-arguments.
Based on this, you confirm your position or answer your question. Finally, you try to hold the reader’s attention to the very end with a bouncer: the focal point of your argument, contained in a catchy statement or an appropriate quote.
When writing an essay, you are less bound by scientific style conventions. But beware of an overly personal or informal style and forced fun. It is also important to realize that titles and subheadings not only have an informative, but also a stimulating function. For this, look at the art of sample texts or ask your teacher.