By Tanuj Kalia
A friend on Facebook asked me about this on Facebook. I gave whatever ‘general’ advice I had to offer. She liked it and hence this “Legal Essay Writing Tips” post on Lawctopus.
Pre legal essay writing tips
A lot of essay writing competitions, even those with huge prize monies, receive very very few entries.
Out of the 25-30 entries that are received in an average essay competition, half are pathetic.
The odds that a well-written, well-researched essay wins the big prize money is pretty good.
Read ‘about’ the essay competition in detail.
Do read the brochure or the website carefully even before starting to write.
Know about the organisation which is organizing the essay competition, about what they are expecting, the rules, regulations etc.
Before starting to write an essay you should ideally consult a competent faculty member, unless of course, you yourself have made a project on it.
If you can find no faculty member with that subject as her specialisation, ask her to refer you to another faculty or a senior researcher.
Discuss the subject/essay topic with him/her. This will save you a lot of time and effort.
^ This will be your Bible.
On the Essay Now
Read extensively and from various sources on the subject. Take notes.
This can easily go on for 4 days-2 weeks depending on the subject.
Based on your extensive reading, decide upon the draft topic you are going to write on.
Make a brief, draft structure/table of contents.
Now read intensively on the topic, sub-topics.
Read only from high quality, authentic sources now.
Write with a flow, without any editing. Keeping writing. Do not revise for now.
Writing is hard and you would not want to stop that.
Be precise. Make each sentence count. Make each word count.
Make sure that your essay contains an argument. That gives a strong voice to the essay.
Your arguments are backed and strengthened by the sources you cite.
Cite properly. Sources from the internet should not make all of your citations. Books are still wonderful and scholarly.
After having written and written for long, edit ruthlessly.
Edit for words, sentences, paras, chapters.
Don’t keep words just to meet the word-count.
Check again for any errors in spellings, grammar, sentence construction etc.
If a sentence sounds confusing, re-write it.
After it’s done
Get a friend or a faculty to read your essay.
It serves as an important second revision. Ask for inputs too.
Give your essay a kick-ass title.
Give your chapters/sections kick-ass sub-titles too. Make the reader want to read your essay.
Make sure the essay looks neat.
Formatting gives the essay a good packaging and makes it stand-out from the crowd.
More tips are on this Legally India write-up here.
Download some prize-winning essays from SpicyIP here.
Buy the book called ‘Elements of Style’.
Make Chicago Manual of Style your Bible.
Have more tips to share? Do leave them as comments below. We are specially looking for more prize-winning downloadable essays. You can put the links below or share the essays at [email protected]