If there is one type of English essay that holds virtually limitless opportunities for exploration, it is the concept essay. By culling your knowledge and personal experience and combining it with vivid, colorful examples, you can make a concept essay a uniquely personal and memorable experience -- for both you and the reader.
Steer away from concepts that have strictly objective definitions. These are not open to interpretation and so will give you precious little to write about. If there is a dictionary definition for your concept, then do not choose it as the subject for your essay.
Choose a concept that you feel strongly about and can illustrate with examples. Think in terms of concepts that are inherently subjective, such as “success,” “courage,” “security” and “fulfillment.” These concepts are abstract and so will require you to define and explain your terms.
Begin your concept essay with an anecdote that both sets the tone for and captures the essence of your essay. Like all introductions, it should be engaging and attention-grabbing.
Conclude your introduction with a compelling thesis that is logical and reasoned and also distinctive and personal. Remember that you are largely defining the concept by your terms. A thesis statement for an essay on the concept of success might fully engage a reader if it said, “I've been broke, I've been wealthy and I've been everywhere in between, so success to me has nothing to do with money and everything to do with sharing my life with someone truly special.”
Keep your essay running on the rails by maintaining your focus. In this example, you would have to explain how monetary wealth still didn't fill you with a sense of success. Spend most of your time in this essay developing your point about sharing your life with someone special. Buttress your point with examples.
Conclude your concept essay by restating your premise with a fresh anecdote. Concept essays often end best when the reader is left with an interesting idea to ponder or reflect upon.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors
- The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers; Maxine Hairston and John Ruszkiewicz
- Step by Step Writing; Randy Devillez
- The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: Writing Concisely
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images