An essay is a short piece of writing on any subject. Essay writing constitutes an integral part of formal schooling. But beyond being an academic requirement, the knowledge of essay writing helps one to document personal thoughts and experiences for record purposes and as messages to family and friends.
Also, a person who is grounded in essay writing can be a social commentator who writes to right societal wrongs, on different media. In line with the diverse functions of essay writing, this piece will explain the discussion essay and the argumentative essay (debate), with a view to helping the readers understand the requirements for writing such essays, as well as their functions.
The first type of essay I shall explain is the discussion essay. A discussion essay requires you to discuss any topic partly or in detail. A discussion essay expects you to discuss the causes, effects and solutions to a problem. At other times, the topic may not explicitly ask that you discuss these three things, but it will still be a discussion essay, provided that discussing it will lead you to giving one or the three aspects of a discussion: the causes, effects and solutions to a topic.
If a question does not particularly demand that you write on any of these three aspects, then the discussion is general. In that case, the writer will be expected to give equal consideration to all of the three aspects. The following topics are examples of a general discussion:
Kidnapping and Banditry as Societal Vice in Nigeria; Education in Nigeria: the Bane of National Development; Gender Bias in the Nigerian Political System, etc.
All of these topics will require the writer to discuss the causes, effects and possible solutions to the issues therein. Some other topics may narrow the writer to any of the three aspects of a discussion. Some of such narrow topics are:
Discuss the major causes of divorce among couples in recent times; What are the effects of single parenting on children?; In what ways can kidnapping and banditry be eradicated in Nigeria?
When a question restricts you to any of the aspects of discussion, you will be expected to discuss that aspect in detail, giving about five well-developed points or at least three, depending on the number of words required for the entry or the writer’s preferred length for the article.
It should be mentioned that when it is a restricted discussion, the two other aspects must also be touched for the purpose of a coherent piece. When discussing the causes of a thing, the last paragraph or the last two paragraphs should be devoted to the consequences and solutions of the thing. A discussion on the effects of a problem will also seem hanging without an initial paragraph to discuss the causes and a final paragraph to present the solutions.
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Also, discussing the solutions to a topic, even if it is what is required, without briefly giving a background on the causes and effects in a paragraph or two, will result in an incomplete piece. Many essay topics fall within the purview of a discussion but usually demand the smartness of the essayist to determine them as such.
To round off the explanation in the discussion essay, note that the points to be given for all the aspects should be logical and presented in a chronological pattern which will reveal a meaningful progression of thoughts. It may, therefore, be important to highlight one’s points first in the pre-writing stage before rearranging them into the preferred order of occurrence in the writing stage.
A debate or an argumentative essay demands of a writer or speaker (as the case may be) to present an argument in favour or against a given topic, in order to attract others to his/her side of the argument. There are fundamental aspects of a debate, which a writer must pay attention to, and these aspects are briefly discussed in this article.
First off, a debate requires acknowledgements. Since there is a panel which is headed by a chairman, especially in a spoken debate, the debater must acknowledge all of the people present or involved in the contest.
Moving on, the debater has to define or explain the concept being debated. Some topics might have terms that need definitions, whereas other topics may just require general statements. A debate on whether a country should allow capital punishment or not, for instance, should first define the term ‘capital punishment.’ The debater can choose to state on which side of the argument s/he stands before or after defining and/or explaining the crux of the debate.
Afterwards, the debater should present logical and convincing points in support of his/her stance. These points should not be less than three. Instructively, it is wrong for a debater to engage in personal confrontations with his/her co-debaters. The points of others could be nullified, but their persons must not be attacked during a debate. A debate should end with a statement of optimism, hence expressing your hope that you have successfully convinced your listeners. However, avoid the use of ‘few’ in such a statement, as ‘few’ suggests what is not enough; ‘a few’ or ‘a good few’ would be better substitutes.
Although essays are the commonest forms of writing, they are often difficult to handle by many people. Thankfully, this piece is an exposition to the rudiments of two basic essay types.