A process essay is a kind of explanatory work which either describes how something is done or informs the reader how to do it. This is of course a very broad remit. Hence one may apply the process essay to any topic which encompasses explainable processes. Generally speaking, you teacher will provide you with clear guidelines on what kinds of things to write about. Be sure to pay close attention to instructions given, to make sure you are on-brief.
The objective of the process essay is that the reader, on finishing the work, should now understand the item in discussion. Think about the Process Essay as a kind of recipe, a step-by-step guide which provides the reader with all the information they need in order to reproduce the process. It is a kind of how-to text, of the kind which is very common online nowadays.
So, we are dealing with a mode of expository and descriptive writing which has a clear and fairly linear goal. Because you are delivering instructions to the reader, it is absolutely essential that you communicate art their level of understanding. It is no use employing a lot of complex technical jargon if the reader is not able to understand it.
Of course, you do not want to oversimplify and bombard with excessive details. Imagine a recipe for pasta sauce which gave precision instructions on how to peel an onion, chop the onion, dispose of the peel, and so on. We can likely presume that anyone reading a recipe book has the baseline competence to chop an onion, without additional hand-holding.
This is a judgement call. It is important to gauge the reader's probable familiarity with the topic and write accordingly. Seeing as you will have a limited word count, you will have to be economical with exposition.
You may find it useful to sketch out the key steps in advance. Then attribute a specific word count to each, so that you can balance out the attention paid to respective steps in the process. This should give you a good idea of how much detail it will be possible to include. Also, it will help you organise your thoughts. Writing things down on paper helps you get a clearer picture of your own ideas.
Your essay wants to start with an introduction which gives an outline of the process you intend to explain. This might be presented in the form of a thesis statement or problem, which the process to be covered will illuminate or solve. So, for instance, let us consider what an essay telling someone how to do something might look like. A psychology essay may commence thus:
16 to 21-year-olds suffering with multiple personality disorder can often find it difficult to socialise, seeing as their condition somewhat limits the activities in which they may engage. In particular, they find it difficult to communicate effectively. However, recent work in drama therapy has revealed that three fairly simple workshop strategies can yield significant improvements, helping participants better to express themselves. The following essay explains the processes involved in these workshops.
The above paragraph should make it very clear to the reader what it is you are trying to do. We have a clearly identified problem (the difficulties young people with mental health issues may have in socialising, specifically regarding communication and self-expression). We then have a proposed solution, a series of drama therapy workshops. Finally we have a statement of intent which explains precisely what the essay intends to do: explain the processes to follow in conducting such workshops.
The argument body needs to make good on the promise made in the introduction. You will have to lay out each individual step involved in the process in the correct, chronological order, such that the reader could if they so desired be able to replicate exactly the processes described.
In order to make sure you do not miss or confuse any detail in the description, it is good practice to make quite thorough notes which mapped out the processes clearly. You will then use this as the roadmap for composing the essay. Really, hilarity and lucidity are your primary objectives. There should be no ambiguity in any part of any paragraph. The conveyance of information is our intent.
Your style should be clear as a windowpane, without embellishment or unnecessary complexity. Stick to simple but precise terminology. It is advisable that you have a friend or family member read your essay and see if they understand it completely. If they do not, find out why and make changes accordingly.
The conclusion will somewhat reiterate the introduction by referring back to the thesis statement or problem identified. At this stage you will be reflecting upon how the essay body, the processes explained, have indeed addressed the topic at issue.
Having completed the write-up, you need to test its efficiency. The best way to do this is to give the paper to a friend and have them offer a critique. It is necessary that they understand every aspect of the process and are able to follow the instructions without difficulty. In particular, you want them to point out any muddled points or confusing language. Because you are familiar with the process it can be easy to assume others have a comparable knowledge of it. But this is not a given.
If your friend has specific suggestions, follow them. Ask them to re-read in light of the amendments and check that the ambiguities are gone and that the piece now makes perfect sense.
Even if your feedback is very positive, there is no text that would not benefit in some way from a quick re-draft. It is very unlikely that we will express ourselves in the best possible way on the first attempt.
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