1. There are several things to keep in mind when preparing to write an essay.
1. Always begin the process by determining the type of essay you'll be writing (descriptive, argumentative/persuasive, compare and contrast, narrative, or evaluation). See this link:
2. Create an outline based on your topic. Begin collecting resources that will help you create an informative and effective essay (books, the internet, interviews, etc). Helpful links:
http://www.austincc.edu/tmthomas/sample outline 1.htm
3. Decide on a thesis statement. In one sentence, tell the reader what your essay is about. Be specific and have a narrow focus.
4. Introduction: This is your opening paragraph and informs the reader what your essay is about—the points you'll be making, its focus and overall purpose.
5. Body: Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3. These paragraphs support your introduction and thesis statement. They're the core of your essay and where your topic is explained and/or argued.
6. Conclusion: This is your last paragraph and summarizes what your essay covered and what conclusions can be made based on the material you presented.
(some notes from timeforwriting.com)
Here's a helpful video on essay writing: http://www.ehow.com/video_4987161_write-essay.html