What makes a good essay? Is it a structure? Or healthy dose of style? Or everything lies within the topic? Or is it the material you're working with? The answer lies somewhere in-between, even though the middle-ground isn't clearly visible. The thing is - it is everything mentioned and nothing in the same time. It takes more than knowing the basics to write a coherent piece of text. But the basics are something that can't be replaced with nonchalant inspiration.
There are general principles upon which any text is built - a set of steps that are in one way or another inevitable in the writing process. The beginning, middle and the end of any sort.
As you know, the major part of the writing depends on sheer force of will of the author to use certain techniques to achieve certain results. Rules only apply to certain situations. Everything else is up to the author. But the mindset is not built out of nothing. It is founded on certain principles that guarantee a certain outcome.
Here are few tips that will help you to write good essay on any subject matter:
The first thing you do after your assignment is set. You go and look for anything that has any connection to the subject. You get yourself familiar with it. You consume the information like some kind of Leviathan. You look for the basics. You look for the supplementary materials. You dive deep, you explore the nuances, muse upon the diverting torrents, think about parts unknown, etcetera, etcetera. You get the big picture. You add the details, shades, find out what relates to what and in what manner. You find your ways around the material, look for things to uncover and things to avoid.
After a while - the immersion starts to pay off - you start to develop your own point of view. Unique vision of the subject is the single most important thing in any kind of text. It is what makes it worth reading. On this stage you brainstorm upon a theme using the materials you've gathered on the previous stage. You just let it flow through you without interruptions or overthinking. In order to it more effective - try to use vast blank spaces. Fill it gradually without any structure - just like a cloud. After that you can filter the idea that appeal to you more or ideas that are more perspective for further research.
Once you've finished gathering and filtering the ideas you can start forging the structure for their reasoning. While there are many variations of the essay structure, the most common is - the introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Introductory part is where you explain why you've chosen a particular theme and summarizing things to come. Body paragraphs are the main part of an essay. It is where you lay down your reasoning and explore various sides. More on that later. When the reasoning comes full circle and everything is tied to gather you can go to the conclusive statements where you summarize the main points of your essay.
With the structure locked and loaded - you can start writing around the points. Usually, the layout of an idea goes in such form - topic sentence, then a couple of supportive sentences, that explain and expand the main idea. Keep the reasoning on every argument focused and avoid diverting to unconnected or surrounding arguments.
Basically, each argument must be the thing in itself that can be shuffled inside the structure without much harm to understanding the text. One thing that is very important with the layout of the argument - keeping the gradual pace. One thing follows another. No jumps, no shifts. That will ease the perception of the text.
After the text is done - stay away from it for some time. The thing is - when you're involved with the text you get used to it and various stuff start to slip through. Various mistakes, mispronunciations, argument bumps, leaps of logic, pace drags, reasoning loopholes, etc. In order to get rid of that you need to restore the distance between you and the text. That will allow you to edit it without much sentiment. Remember - you must do what's best for the piece.