Essay tips from Prof. W Kuskin

October 13th, 2019 2 minute read

Note: these tips are notes from 2013 Comic Books and Graphic Novels Coursera MOOC by Prof. W. Kuskin

Kuskin Rules

  1. Kuskin Rule #1 Circle the Details

  2. Kuskin Rule #2 Synthesize the Details

  3. Kuskin Rule #3 Writing Creates a Persona
    • Craft a title that matters
    • Begin with a topic sentence, marry that to a theme
    • Reflect on points = Thesis Statement
  4. Kuskin Rule #4 Make a Plan for Success

The Plan for Assignment #1 (Kuskin 6 steps that helps)

  1. Read the assignment (Pick a comic page)… Do it NOW!
  2. Apply Kuskin Rules #1 & #2
    • Circling the details
    • Pick up the details (that stand out to you)
  3. Write for a solid hour uninterrupted — Just keep writing no matter what — get rolling
  4. Take time to “Digest” then REVISE using Kuskin Rule #3, end every paragraph with a strong statement
  5. Ask “What is the POINT” — What is the conclusion? A chance to make a strong statement — “So what?” and revise again
  6. Read it out LOUD and correct for final submission

Essay tips from Prof. Kuskin:

Find out what the teacher wants:

  • Get the assignment prompt and break it into its individual parts - this becomes the skeleton for your essay.

Don’t start with the introduction paragraph

  • seriously, this is a great way of stumping yourself ten minutes into the writing process
  • you’re trying to write an intro for a paper that doesn’t exist yet?
  • start with the first body paragraph

Your awesome body paragraphs

  • the cool thing about the essay is that you pretty much get to tell people what to think
  • don’t hold back
  • your name is already on the top of the page, so whatever you say, try to really mean it

Conclusion paragraph

  • the conclusion is like the end of a 30 seconds commercial where they hold the product up at the end just in case you forgot you were watching a commercial
  • hold up your argument for the audience one more time
  • just in case they forgot what they just read

Introduction paragraph

  • now that you have body paragraphs and a conclusion, rewrite your conclusion to introduce your topic
  • notice how easier it is to introduce something AFTER you’ve written about it
  • slap a badass thesis statement at the end of your intro

Thesis statement

  • remember the skeleton from the beginning — take it back out
  • make a single sentence that talks about all those points
  • it’s fine to write a sentence that says: “in this essay, I argue that…”
  • then just list those things — done.


  • quotes are a great way to make yourself look credible and to add length to your paper
  • you need to talk before and after a quote
  • tell people who you are quoting
  • tell people why they should care


Well, citations can be nice, it shows that you researched something about your subject but they can be a double edged sword if you don’t actually reference them in the proper context. Incomplete, out of context or false quotes are bad.

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