One of the most common problems in essay-writing is lack of sufficient development. In order to lengthen and develop all sections of your essay, ask yourself a series of questions to explore and expand every statement. In addition, provide specific examples for all your points to make your essay longer in a meaningful way.
Why Does This Matter?
A crucial question you must answer in any genre of essay is, "Why does this matter?" It is your responsibility as the writer to convey the significance of everything you write, including how each point supports the thesis statement. This question can be applied to everything from the thesis statement to points made in the essay's conclusion. For example, if you write a personal accomplishment essay, your initial thesis statement might be, "My biggest accomplishment was when I won the basketball championship." However, after answering the question, "Why does this matter?" you can revise and lengthen your thesis statement to read, "My biggest accomplishment was winning the basketball championship, an experience that increased my determination to work hard and achieve all my goals."
Why and How Does This Happen?
Don't assume that the reader can infer your thoughts and make the same connections as you can. For example, in an analytical essay about gang violence, you might state that gang culture is often passed down from generation to generation, then move on to the next point in the paper. However, you can lengthen your essay by explaining why and how this inheritance occurs. To develop your essay, take the time to write out and explain aspects of a topic that you might take for granted, including why something happens.
Whom Does This Affect?
You can identify groups of people who are affected by the essay's topic, and evaluate how they are affected. For example, in a research paper about the negative impact of the Internet, a writer might examine the effect of the Internet on students -- but who else? What about the impact of the Internet on parents, teachers, families and relationships? A writer can considerably lengthen her analysis by examining all the different ways that various communities are influenced by a particular issue or experience.
What Are the Long-Term Effects?
Another strategy for lengthening an essay is to predict future effects related to the topic. For example, if you are writing a personal narrative about when your grandmother passed away, you can say that the strengths of her personality continue to impact your relationships with others today, as well as your professional goals in the future. Or if you are writing an argument essay that argues for increasing research in solar energy, you can say that the long-term effects of this decision include decreasing America's reliance on oil and decreasing pollution, which can reduce cancer rates in the U.S. This strategy can lengthen an essay indefinitely by examining the impact of one result on another and another.
Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.