What are the characteristic features of a good essay?  

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In addition to being free of grammar and spelling errors, a good essay will have a strong central argument or purpose that it progressively develops. In a literary essay, this central argument is known as a thesis. A good essay introduces its thesis in the opening paragraph, and the following paragraphs are well developed. Each body paragraph should stay focused on one specific topic, which should be introduced by a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. The paragraphs should also flow in a logical order so that they build on each other and reach a strong conclusion.


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The word "essay" comes from the French word meaning "to try," so an essay is an attempt to be interesting and fresh. Thus, the first rule of thumb in writing a good essay is to catch your reader's interest. You don't want the reader feeling as if she has read some variation of this essay a hundred times before.

Two important ways to catch the reader's interest are to have a provocative thesis and to write a compelling opening paragraph. A provocative thesis should definitely strongly state an opinion that has to be defended. To be provocative, however, a thesis has to not only be an opinion,...

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