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Compossing an essay


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Types of essay, structure of an essay

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Compossing an essay

  1. 1. Republic of Moldova Ministry of Education ―Ion Creangă‖ State Pedagogical University Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature English Philology Department MASTER‘S DEGREE PAPERCOMPOSING AN ESSAY Submitted by: Mocanu Elena Scientific adviser: Sagoian E., Ph.D., associate professor Chisinau 2012
  2. 2. CONTENTS:INTRODUCTION …………………………………………………………….… 3Chapter I. THEORETICAL REVIEW OF THE PROCESS OFCOMPOSING AN ESSAY ……………………………………………………... 61.1 The Writing Process ……………………………………………………….…. 61.2 What is an Essay? …………………………………………………………… 111.3 Prewriting Techniques ………………………………………………………. 141.4 From Paragraph to Essay ……………………………………………………. 231.5 The Thesis Statement ……………………………………………………….. 261.6 The Introductory Paragraph …………………………………………………. 281.7 Body Paragraphs …………………………………………………………….. 311.8 The Concluding Paragraph ………………………………………………….. 331.9 Guidelines on Composing an Essay ………………………………………… 351.10 Common Essay Problems …………………………………………………. 38Chapter II. ESSAY WRITING PATTERNS ……………………………........ 422.1 Types of Essays ……………………………...……………………………… 422.1.1 Cause and Effect Essay ……………...…………………………….……… 432.1.2 Classification Essay …………………………………………….….…........ 462.1.3 Comparison and Contrast Essay ………………………………..…………. 482.1.4 Descriptive Essay……………………………………………………….…. 502.1.5 Definition Essay…………………………………………………………… 522.1.6 Expository Essay ………………………………………………………..… 552.1.7 Narrative Essay……………………………………………………………. 592.2 Coherence and Unity of Essays ……………………………………………... 622.2.1 Organizing Patterns …………………………………………………….…. 65Chapter III. EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF THE THEORETICALAPPROACH TO THE PROCESS OF COMPOSING AN ESSAY ………... 713.1 Description of the course of the experimental work ………………………. 713.2 Results of the experiment ………………………………………….….…… 93Conclusions ………………………………………………………….…………. 99Bibliography ……………………………………………………….…………. 103Appendix …………………………………………………………….………... 108 2
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION The master‘s degree paper is devoted to the topic “Composing an Essay”.This investigation is from the field of methods of teaching foreign languages. Writing is the expression of language in the form of letters, symbols, orwords. The primary purpose of writing is communication. People have used manytools for writing including paint, pencils, pens, typewriters, and computers. Writing is known to be an important component of the language as a systemand one of the four skills of foreign language teaching that students must acquire.It is not a very easy task to communicate in the written form in a foreign language.Maybe it is for the same reason that large numbers of adult native speakers neverachieve a high level of expressiveness in writing in their first language. It partlyhas to do with the nature of writing itself. Harold Rosen explained it in this way:‗The writer is a lonely figure cut off from the stimulus and corrective of listeners.He must be a predictor of reactions and act on his predictions. He writes with onehand tied behind his back, being robbed of gestures. He is robbed too of the tone ofhis voice and the aid of clues the environment provides. He is condemned tomonologue. There is no one to help to fill the silences in his mouth or makeencouraging noises.‘ As Rosen points out writing is detached from the wide rangeof expressive possibilities in speech. A writer is unable to explore all the devicesavailable to a speaker: gestures, body movement, facial expressions, pitch and toneof voice, stress and hesitations, he has to compensate for all of these disadvantages.Jeffrey A. Carver says that ―Writing is a craft that requires both talent and acquiredskills. You learn by doing, by making mistakes and then seeing where you wentwrong. Practice, practice, practice writing‖. Learning to write in a foreign languageis an uphill struggle for most students. Therefore writing skills need to be taught.They are specific abilities which help writers put their thoughts into words in ameaningful form and to mentally interact with the message. Writing skills help thelearner gain independence, comprehensibility, fluency and creativity in writing. Iflearners have mastered these skills, they will be able to write so that notonly they can read what they have written, but other speakers of that language can 3
  4. 4. read and understand it. The reason for which this theme has been chosen is the necessity of knowingthe difficulties and problems we can have in composing an essay. It is veryimportant and useful to know opinions of different scholars on this theme and ofcourse the means, proceedings and methods used by various scholars, in order toidentify, analyse and understand easier and better the English writing. Taking intoaccount all these things we will be able to teach and explain it to others in the mostaccessible and easiest way including the most efficient methods and techniques forthe best understanding. The aim of this diploma paper is to present the most accessible andimportant information about composing an essay and, of course, the best andworthiest opinions of various scholars from various sources. The main objectives of the present diploma paper are the following: 1. To analyse theoretical works of various methodologists about composing an essay and to select the most useful ones. 2. To describe the process of writing an essay. 3. To point out the difficulties students encounter in the writing process. 4. To carry out an experiment in the school concerned with the different types of essay writing activities. 5. To reveal the most effective techniques that will improve the writing of essays. To realize all the objectives of the paper, the following methods ofinvestigation have been used: 1) Contrastive analysis 2) Generalization 3) Description 4) Comparison 5) Experimental analysis The diploma paper consists of: Introduction, three Chapters, Conclusions,Bibliography and Appendix. 4
  5. 5. In the Introduction the aim, the objectives of the paper and the methods ofthe research are stated. Chapter I contains the theoretical data on composing an essay and presentsa brief survey of the structure of an essay selected from the consulted sources. Chapter II comprises the description of types of essays relevant to the firstchapter. They can be used as a basis in a teaching context or for individuallearning. Chapter III deals with the description of the experiment and its results. Conclusions contain the results of investigation on the topic. The Bibliography presents the list of sources that deal with the problem ofcomposing an essay. The Appendix shows several examples which are not presented in theresearch. This research is quite useful and can have practical value for teaching andstudying English as a foreign language. 5
  6. 6. Chapter I THEORETICAL REVIEW OF THE PROCESS OFCOMPOSING AN ESSAY Writing is the final product of several separate stages that are hugelychallenging to learn simultaneously. Among these separable stages are note-taking,identifying a central idea, outlining, drafting and editing. Both young and oldpeople can encounter the discouraging ‗writer‘s block‘ if they engage in more thanone or two of these activities at once. It is difficult to start writing a report, forexample, without a central idea and notes to support it. Teachers may not onlyconduct skilful lessons but also stimulate all students to become better writers, andidentify talented writers for special encouragement and lessons. To become betterwriters, students may need to read good— even great—literature, which can serveas a model for their own efforts. Hearing and reading about the lives of great menand women writers and how they developed their talents may stimulate them.Direct contacts with professional writers, such as novelists and news reporters,may be inspirational. Inquiry and discovery also inspire great writing. Havingtopics that a person cares deeply about, as a consequence of personal interest andinvestigation, may prove decisive for a fine writing and even lead to a life devotedto writing. [21, p 135] This chapter begins by examining the writing process. It then looks at howwriting is produced and the stages a piece of writing passes through before it iscompleted. The later section of the chapter describes a number of guidelines oncomposing an essay and students‘ common problems while writing. §1.1 The Writing Process Writing is a complex sociocognitive process involving the construction ofrecorded messages on paper or on some other material, and, more recently, on acomputer screen. The skills needed to write range from making the appropriategraphic marks, through utilizing the resources of the chosen language, toanticipating the reactions of the intended readers. The first skill area involvesacquiring a writing system, which may be alphabetic. The second skill arearequires selecting the appropriate grammar and vocabulary to form acceptable 6
  7. 7. sentences and then arranging them in paragraphs. Third, writing involves thinkingabout the purpose of the text to be composed and about its possible effects on theintended readership. One important aspect of this last feature is the choice of asuitable style. Because of these characteristics, writing is not an innate naturalability like speaking but has to be acquired through years of training or schooling. Mastering the art of writing involves learning a great many things about thesystem and how to manipulate it. It entails learning to: use writing implements,write legibly, spell correctly, use punctuation, satisfy grammatical rules, takeaccount of an audience, construct and organize texts, select from a range of styles.There is a great deal to know about writing in order to be able to make the systemwork. However, there is more to writing and becoming an effective writer thanknowing how to operate the system. We need to know what the system is for. Writing has a number of uses and has an important functional role in ourlives. The visible form of written language means that it provides ideas andthoughts with a degree of permanence and enables meaning to be conveyed toothers or recorded without being constrained by distance or time. As a method ofcommunication writing can be used to establish and maintain contact with others,transmit information, express thoughts, feelings and reactions, entertain andpersuade. As a personal or private activity it can be a powerful tool for learningand remembering. It can be used to explore and refine ideas, organize thoughts andrecord information. In school writing often has another role. Children are asked touse writing to display what they know, and writing is usually the medium throughwhich pupil learning is measured. Through writing students do not just displaywhat they know; they can also discover what they know and think. ‗Writing is nota linear or step-by-step procedure, but a messy adventure, one that you control butthat often surprises you with your own insights‘ as Raimes claims. [42, p. 145] Recently, the teaching of writing has moved away from a concentration onwritten product to an emphasis on the process of writing. Thus, writers askthemselves: 7
  8. 8. How do I write this?How do I get started? In this approach, students are trained to generate ideas for writing, think ofthe purpose and audience, and write multiple drafts in order to present writtenproducts that communicate their own ideas. Teachers who use this approach givestudents time to tray ideas and feedback on the content of what they write in theirdrafts. As such, writing becomes a process of discovery for the students as theydiscover new ideas and new language forms to express them. Furthermore,learning to write is seen as a developmental process that helps students to write asprofessional authors do, choosing their own topics and genres, and writing fromtheir own experiences or observations. A writing process approach requires thatteachers give students greater responsibility for, and ownership of, their ownlearning. Students make decisions about genre and choice of topics, andcollaborate as they write. During the writing process, students engage in pre-writing, planning, drafting, and post-writing activities. However, as the writingprocess is recursive in nature, they do not necessarily engage in these activities inthat order. Since writing is a powerful tool for living and learning learners need to beshown how to do it. [5, p.64] To become an adept and confident writer involveslearning how to write and learning about writing. Fluent writers are at ease with thewriting system and know when and how to use writing in their lives. Manystudents mistakenly think that good writers simply sit down and write out a perfectletter, paragraph, or essay from start to finish. In fact, writing is a processconsisting of a number of steps: Thinking about possible subjects Freely jotting down ideas on paper or computer1. Prewriting Narrowing the subject, writing it as one sentence Deciding which ideas to include Arranging ideas in a plan or an outline 8
  9. 9. 2. Writing Writing a first draft Rethinking, rearranging, and rewriting as necessary3. Revising Writing one or more new drafts Proofreading for grammar and spelling errors Not all writers perform all the steps in this order, but most prewrite, write,revise, and proofread. Actually, writing can be a messy process of thinking,writing, reading what has been written, and rewriting. Sometimes steps overlap ormust be repeated. The important thing is that writing the first draft is just one stagein the process. [53, p. 44] Before they write, good writers spend time prewriting – thinking about andplanning for a paper. Here writers think, let their imaginations run free, jot downideas or list ideas on the computer, decide which ideas to use, and come up with aplan. Many beginning writers get into trouble by skipping the prewriting phase.They don‘t realize that doing this early work saves time and frustration later andusually creates a much better piece of writing than when students just sit down towrite. Next comes writing the first draft. Writers who have planned ahead are nowfree to concentrate on writing the best possible draft. The focus now is onpresenting ideas, feelings, and experiences as convincingly as possible, rather thanon correcting. The next phase of the process – and one that many writers rushthrough or omit altogether – is revising. Experienced writers do not accept the firstwords that flow from their pens; they are like sculptors, shaping and reworkingrough material into something meaningful. Writers do this by letting the first draftsit for five minutes, an hour or a day. Then they read it again with a fresh, criticaleye and rewrite – adding, dropping, or rearranging ideas; changing words toachieve more clarity and punch; and so on. Many writers revise two or three timesuntil they get it right- until their writing says clearly and effectively what they wantto say. Finally, the proofread for grammar and spelling errors, so that their writingseems to say ‗I am proud to put my name on this work.‘ 9
  10. 10. Early in the writing phase, a writer gives some thought to the subject,audience, and purpose. A writer usually narrows the subject toward some specificaspect that will intrigue and interest the readers. A good writer also connects withhis or her audience and keeps readers in mind at all times, as if in a face-to-facecommunication, that helps to know what information to include and what to leaveout. Achieving this connection, however, often proves challenging, because not allreaders have the same characteristics. To consider audience, students mustconsider who they are writing for and students must ask themselves, "Who is myintended audience?" Some possible audiences are:1. Familiar, known audiences: self, friends, peers, family, teachers;2. Extended, known audiences: community, student body, local media;3. Extended, unknown audiences: wider range of media and other publications. A good writer defines the purpose in writing, whether it is to explain an ideaor provide information, to persuade readers to see things other way or move themto action; that helps to write more effectively. To consider purpose, students writeto express ideas, feelings, emotions, and opinions, and they must ask themselves,"What is my purpose for writing this piece?" Some purposes for students‘ writingsare:1. to express personal feelings or viewpoints2. to imagine "What if ...?"3. to narrate4. to entertain and/or amuse5. to describe6. to inform or explain7. to persuade or convince8. to request9. to inquire or question10. to explore and experiment with ideas and formats11. to clarify thinking. 10
  11. 11. To consider point of view, students must determine from which point of viewtheir ideas or information will be expressed, so they need to ask themselves, "Whois telling this story/describing the events?" Some points of view for students‘consideration are:1. Physical point of view: where is the narrator in relation to the action?2. Objective and subjective point of view: what emotional involvement does thenarrator have in relation to the situation?3. Personal point of view: who is the narrator of the story? (The narrator may takea first person, third person, or an all-knowing omniscient point of view.) To decide what information will be gathered and how it will most effectivelybe gathered students who decide that they need to conduct interviews or go on fieldtrips to gather information will need to brainstorm and construct a list ofquestions. Students who require library research will need to decide the types ofresources and references to consult. To consider format, students will use audience and purpose to determineformat and genre. They will have the opportunity to write in a variety of narrative,descriptive, expository, and poetic formats. Their writings may include formatsand genres such as: advertisement, advice column, autobiography/biography,comic strip, letter of complaint/request/inquiry, diary/journal, readers theater/roleplay/monologue, book review, report, fable/fairy tale, greeting card, game rules,directions, interview, news story, poem/song, essays, anecdote/personal experiencestory, sports column, short story, etc. [44, p.88; 2, p.148] §1.2 What is an Essay? Words are collections of sounds; sentences are collections of words;paragraphs are collections of sentences; and essays are collections of paragraphs.But so are many other forms of writing such as that found in novels, magazines,and newspapers. So what are the essential differences between the essay and othertypes of writing? The essay is, first and foremost, essentially true, a piece of non-fiction. As 11
  12. 12. soon as authors begin making up characters, adding details that really didnt occur,or fabricating a plot structure in order to make what they are writing larger thanreal life, they are writing in a fictional mode. In other words, essays may bedescriptive, use narration, propose solutions to problems, elucidate the innerworkings of complicated creations of nature and/or humanity, but one thing theyarent is fake or false or made up or fabricated. Essays may be creative in the sensethat the authors have creatively explained their points of view, but essays arentcreative. Secondly, all essays have definable beginnings, middles, and endings, unlikesome forms of writing such as newspaper stories. In addition, essays are builtaround central ideas, normally referred to as theses. Basically, the thesis is the gluewhich binds the essay together. It is the point of the essay. Its what the essay isabout, what it intends to show, prove, or do: the controlling purpose. Finally, essays consist of one, three, or more paragraphs. While a twoparagraph essay may be possible to write, the requirement that essays haveintroductions, bodies, and conclusions makes the use of a two-paragraph formatrather awkward. And the one paragraph essay, consisting of a topic sentence,supporting details, and a closing sentence, is too brief to be considered a seriouseffort in terms of narrating, describing, explaining, or arguing a point of view.Realistically, that leaves us with three paragraphs or more. But length should neverbe a primary consideration when creating an essay. More germane is the idea thatthe essay should be long enough to completely discuss, argue, prove, or relate themain idea of the essay, the thesis. The well-written essay has completeness and awholeness about it that announces, "Theres nothing more to be said."[36, p.73-96] The primary job of the essay, then, is to thoroughly discuss its main idea(s).In addition, three or more paragraphs are normally required to adequately performthis important function, even though under certain circumstances the one-paragraph essay is acceptable. Essays can range from being five paragraphs totwenty pages or more, covering any topic, whether its what you learned from yourdog, or why societies become hierarchies. What all essays have in common, 12
  13. 13. however, is that they must stay true to the roots of the word "essay" which derivesfrom the French infinitive essayer, meaning "to try" or "to attempt". An essay isessentially your attempt to explain your point of view, and a skillfully writtenessay is clear, illuminating and informative. In order to write a good essay, its important for students to know thestructure of essay writings, the problems often met when writing, and how toimprove the essay writing. The first important thing needed to be known is theformal structure of writing an essay. The next important thing to know is thatstudents have two big problems in writing an essay. One is language problems,which are made by students‘ shortage of vocabulary and the translation of thoughtsfrom their first language to English, when the meaning in the translation betweenthe languages is often lost. The other problem is a cultural problem, since studentscome from a different country and are not familiar with the English culture,customs, environment and political society. [49, p. 5- 58] Writing essays successfully is not a special ability that only some people areborn with and it is not an elite activity that only some people are allowed to do. Itis a skill that can be learnt just like any other skill. Writing essays successfully is aprocess that takes place over time. What you do next week builds on what you didthis week or last week. Like all writing, it involves developing self-awarenessabout what you are doing and why, about what works and what does not. Writingessays at university is not only a skill: it is also a practice. In a literal sense, thismeans that you do it over and over again. A practice also means an accepted andacceptable mode of behavior; and one accepted and acceptable mode of behaviorconnects with other accepted and acceptable modes of behavior. So writing essaysat university means that you are participating in larger ideas about, for example,how to learn, how to express yourself, how to transmit and receive knowledge. Theresa M. Lillis, an academic who specializes in the study of writing atuniversity, found that a large part of student anxiety was ―centred on academicwriting as students attempted to write within the rules of the game withoutknowing what the rules were.‖ This resource tries to make transparent the stages of 13
  14. 14. the writing process and lists below some of the most common types of prewritingtechniques. Prewriting activities help students to discover and explore ideas abouta subject. Learners should become familiar with all of these and figure out the onesthat work best for them. [40, p.112-144] §1.3 Prewriting Techniques Pre-writing, the first stage in the writing process begins long before thewriter puts thoughts into writing. The experiences, observations, and interactionsthat students have prior to entering the classroom have an impact upon what theywill write and how they will write it. Within the classroom, pre-writing promptsand activities can be integrated into the writing process as scaffolds by teachers tohelp students generate ideas for their writing and to practice the thinking skillsinherent in the activity. To initiate thinking and generate possible writing topics, it is important forstudents to explore ideas for writing topics using a variety of prewriting strategies,such as the following: • Freewriting: It is an excellent method that many writers use to warm up and to generateideas. These are guidelines: for five, ten, or fifteen minutes, write rapidly, withoutstopping, about anything that comes into head, not worrying about grammar, logic,complete sentences or grades. The point is to write so quickly that ideas can flowwithout comments from inner critic, the inside voice. There are two types offreewriting -- unfocused and focused. Unfocused freewriting can help you clearyour mind so you are ready to concentrate on the task at hand, and focusedfreewriting can help you come up with ideas on your topic. Unfocused freewriting is very easy. You either sit down at the keyboard orgrab a pencil and piece of paper and begin writing whatever comes to mind. Dontstop to see if it makes sense; dont worry about capitalization, punctuation,sentence structure or anything else. Just write until you feel like youve clearedyour mind of excess baggage that can prevent you from focusing on your writing 14
  15. 15. project. Focused freewriting is similar, but instead of writing about anything, try tostay focused on the topic you are to write about. Write down everything thatcomes to mind on the topic, without stopping to consider whether an idea isworthwhile. Just keep writing. If you run out of things to write about, write "I cantthink of anything" over and over until you do think of something; soon your mindwill get so bored with the same phrase that it will begin moving again. If you findyourself straying from the topic, dont get frustrated; just try to refocus and keepgoing. Write and write and write until you feel you have exhausted everypossibility. Then read your freewriting and decide what points you want to includeand what points you want to delete. Once you have decided on a topic for your essay, try doing a free-writingexercise to generate ideas for fleshing out the paper. The goal of freewriting is togenerate ideas and information from within yourself by going around the part ofyour mind that doesnt want to write or cant think of anything to write. You letwords themselves suggest other words. WHAT you write is not important; that youKEEP writing is. There are two rules to freewriting: DONT STOP and DONTJUDGE. Even if you run out of ideas, write "I cant think of anything to say."DONT STOP, even if it means repeating the same words until new words come.Dont go back to reread, dont censor ideas that seem dumb or repetitious, andabove all, dont stop to edit: grammar, punctuation, spelling, and the like areirrelevant at this stage. Take pen/pencil to paper; you shouldnt lift your writingutensil off the page until time is up! ALTERNATIVE: When you are ready to sit down and start freewriting, sitdown at the computer and turn the monitor off. (Yes, turn the monitor off). Asksomeone to keep the time or set a timer and write for 10 straight minutes. Dont liftyour fingers off the keyboard until that 10 minutes is up. Turning the monitor offeffectively keeps you from editing during the freewriting. This exercise can workeven if you havent nailed down a topic yet. Just keep the assignment in mind and 15
  16. 16. let your fingers fly across the keyboard (or peck as the case may be). [28, p.68-95] • Brainstorming: Brainstorming is similar to freewriting in that you write down everythingyou can think of without considering whether it is valid, good or useable. Thedifference between freewriting and brainstorming is that freewriting takes on aformat that looks something like a paragraph, while brainstorming usually resultsin a list of words and phrases. When brainstorming, it isnt necessary to keepwriting continuously; just jot down ideas that seem related to your topic. Whenyou cant come up with anything to add to the list, read it and determine what toinclude and what to delete. Many writers prefer brainstorming because the resulting list is easy to workwith in terms of separating ideas. In some cases, writers cross out or delete theideas they reject and number the others in the order in which they want to presentthem. With very little effort, they have an informal outline that can guide them inorganizing their drafts. Another advantage to brainstorming is that it can be done in groups. If youare collaborating on a project, all the writers can meet and shout out ideas thatcome to mind regarding the topic; but it is really not possible to free write as agroup. [18, p.21-184] • Clustering: Clustering is the preferred prewriting technique for writers who are visuallyoriented because it allows them to generate and organize ideas in a visual context.Because clustering, which is also called mapping or mind mapping, is visual innature, it is difficult to explain in words alone. It consists of using circles and linesto show connections between your ideas. Clustering, or Mapping, is an invention strategy that can be used to generateideas for an essay or to plan an essay. 16
  17. 17. • Outlining: (Essay Outline Format) Outlines can vary from informal notes jotted on post-its to formal typedoutlines arranged in a hierarchical format. Usually, no one will see the outline butyou, so you should complete it in whatever fashion works best for you. Somewriters need formal outlines to help them organize their ideas, while other writersdo not. [34, p.44-86] Using Outlines to Develop StructureWhile it is convenient to imagine two separate stages of composition, in practicethe process is not so clearly divided. Most writers have some idea of the finalshape they wish to give their thoughts before they begin their work. Often the formis forced upon them: they are writing in response to a clearly outlined assignment.Sometimes structure develops unwillingly. If this is the case, you might wish todraw up some form of outline before you proceed to writing a rough draft. Severaltypes of outlines are popular. Topic OutlineTopic outlines are undeniably easy to make, but they offer few other advantages. Atopic outline is an organized list of the subjects with which an essay will deal.Paragraph OutlineA variation on the sentence outline is the paragraph outline, in which you attemptto compose the actual sentences with which your successive paragraphs will begin.The advantage is clear: this technique forces you to begin your paragraphs withstrong topic sentences rather than vague introductions and transitions. Against thisreal gain is poised the complexity of the task. You may well find that this exercisetakes so much effort that it interferes with the actual writing of the paper. Asentence outline is a very useful middle form, neither so easy as to be pointless norso demanding as to steal time from the paper itself. [49, p.162; 24, p.54] 17
  18. 18. • Cubing: Describe, Compare, Associate, Analyse, Apply, and Argue for / against.Select a topic and restrict it to workable size. The topic should be one you knowabout from personal experience and/or one you have strong opinions about. Writethe topic at the top of a clean sheet of paper (or blank screen). Then, free write forthree to five minutes on each of the steps listed below. Follow the order listed anddo not skip any steps. When you have finished all of the free writes, read over whatyou have written and take the topic test. DESCRIBE IT: Describe the topic in terms of size, shape, sound, smell, feel, etc. COMPARE IT: What can you compare the topic to? What is it different from? ASSOCIATE IT: What does the topic make you think of? What does it connect with in your mind? What memories, feelings, times, places, and people do you connect with the topic? ANALYZE IT: Break the topic into sub-topics or parts. APPLY IT: What is the significance of the topic? How can it be useful? Why/how does it matter? In other words, answer the "So what?" question. ARGUE FOR OR AGAINST IT: Go ahead and take a stand. Use any reasons you want to -- rational, silly, or anywhere in between. Give as many reasons as you can for your position. TOPIC TEST: o After cubing, am I still interested in the topic? o Do I have plenty to say about the topic? o Will at least 100 readers be interested in what I have to say? [8, p.144] 18
  19. 19. • Journalist Questions The following questions are called "journalist" questions and provide astarting point for exploring an event. These questions are especially useful in theautobiographical essay or the reflection essay. These questions should not beanswered in a necessarily direct way. Obviously, telling what happened will bedirect, but exploring why an event happened can become the focus for you paper.1) Who: Who is involved: Who are the participants? Who is affected? Who are theprimary actors? Who are the secondary actors?2) What: What is the topic? What is the significance of the topic? What is the basicproblem? What are the issues? What happened and what were the results?3) Where: Where does the activity take place? Where does the problem or issuehave its source? At what place is the cause or effect of the problem most visible?4) When: When is the issue most apparent? (Past? present? future?) When did theissue or problem develop? What historical forces helped shape the problem orissue and at what point in time will the problem or issue culminate in a crisis?When is action needed to address the issue or problem?5) Why: Why did the issue or problem arise? Why is it (your topic) an issue orproblem at all? Why did the issue or problem develop in the way that it did?6) How: How did it happen? How is the issue or problem significant? How can itbe addressed? How does it affect the participants? How can the issue or problembe resolved? [47, p.57-65] • Debating: Students may be assigned or may choose different positions on an issue andargue those positions. Debating requires that they think about their position, gatherevidence, and organize their argument--all good ways to generate ideas and planfor writing a text. Later rereading of an electronic discussion can help students think abouttheir ideas in new ways as well as recall the ideas theyve expressed. This kind of 19
  20. 20. interaction always helps students think about the audience for their ideas becausethey are writing for specific, real people whom they know. Activity: With a group of other students, select a short literary text to read orreread. Assign roles based on characters in the text to each participant. In anelectronic environment, assume the role of your character to discuss an issue orevent central to the text. After students have chosen the topic and have done some prewritingactivities, they must decide what they will say about it. Students develop an initialplan for the product they will compose. As they do so, they must consider thepurpose, audience, point of view, and format because these elements haveimplications for both the planning and the drafting of the written product. To develop an initial plan for drafting, students organize the informationthey have generated during pre-writing by using such structures as outlines, storyframes, maps, diagrams, charts, and concept webs. It is self-evident that a well-planned essay is going to be better organizedthan one that was not planned out. Thinking carefully about how you are going toargue your paper and preparing an outline can only add to the quality of your finalproduct. Nevertheless, some people find it more helpful than others to plan. Thosewho are good at coming up with ideas but find writing difficult often benefit fromplanning. By contrast, those who have trouble generating ideas but find writingeasy may benefit from starting to write early. Putting pen to paper (or typing awayat the keyboard) may be just what is needed to get the ideas to flow. You knowyoure planning too little if the first draft of your essays is always a disorganizedmess, and you have to spend a disproportionate amount of time creating reverseoutlines and cutting and pasting material. You know youre planning too much ifyou always find yourself writing your paper a day before its due after spendingweeks doing research and devising elaborate plans.Be aware of the implications of planning too little or too much. 20
  21. 21. Planning provides the following advantages: helps you to produce a logical and orderly argument that your readers can follow helps you to produce an economical paper by allowing you to spot repetition helps you to produce a thorough paper by making it easier for you to notice whether you have left anything out makes drafting the paper easier by allowing you to concentrate on writing issues such as grammar, word choice, and clarityOver planning poses the following risks: doesnt leave you enough time to write and revise leads you to produce papers that try to cover too much ground at the expense of analytic depth can result in a writing style that lacks spontaneity and ease does not provide enough opportunity to discover new ideas in the process of writing. [50, p.35-49] ORGANIZING THE ESSAYThe classical system of argumentation based on that of ancient Greek and Romanorators. The Introduction Gains reader‘s attention (question, story, quotation). Establishes your qualifications to write about topic. Establishes common ground with readers. Demonstrates fairness. States thesis. The Background (any necessary background information about the topic). The Arguments Reasons in support of thesis (logical/emotional/ethical). 21
  22. 22. Reasons presented in order of importance (most important first). The Counterarguments Present alternative points of view. Notes reasons for/against these points of view. Shows why your view is better. The Conclusion Summarize the argument. Elaborate on implications of the thesis (if we do this, then…). State what you want readers to think or do. Make a strong ethical or emotional appeal. [31, p.82-126]While drafting, the emphasis is on content and meaning rather than on mechanicsand conventions. This is the time for writers to get down their ideas and thoughts,composing rough drafts based upon pre-writing and planning activities andconsiderations. As they compose, writers begin to determine what to include andexclude, and make initial decisions about how these ideas will be organized.During the drafting stage of the writing process, meaning begins to evolve.• To produce a first, rough draft, students record their ideas rapidly in order tocapture the essence of what they have to say. They do not have to make anyattempt to revise or edit at this point. They focus on talking to the reader and beginto develop a personal style as their voices emerge.• To write subsequent drafts, students often accomplish their work by crossing out,adding, and rearranging ideas directly on the page. The students‘ redrafting doesnot necessarily require an entire rewrite at this time. 22
  23. 23. • To reflect upon their own writing, students can conference with self, peers andthe teacher. Through conferencing, students can get constructive feedback andsupport that may help them to shape their writings. A set of questions or achecklist can be used to assist writers and conference partners as they strive to helpthe writer make meaning clear. [30, p.42-50] §1.4 From Paragraph to Essay What is a paragraph? Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students defineparagraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, or aparagraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence ofideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as"a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit" [31, p.112-116].Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is aparagraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, aparagraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence orgroup of sentences that support one main idea. Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particularparagraph will be, you must first decide on a working thesis for your paper. Whatis the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader? Theinformation in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other words, yourparagraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship betweenyour thesis and the information in each paragraph. A working thesis functions likea seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process is anorganic one—a natural progression from a seed to a full-blown paper where thereare direct, familial relationships between all of the ideas in the paper. The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with thegermination of a seed of ideas; this "germination process" is better knownas brainstorming. There are many techniques for brainstorming; whichever one 23
  24. 24. you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped. Buildingparagraphs can be like building a skyscraper: there must be a well-plannedfoundation that supports what you are building. Any cracks, inconsistencies, orother corruptions of the foundation can cause your whole paper to crumble. What else should you keep in mind as you begin to create paragraphs? Everyparagraph in a paper should be: Unified—all of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea (often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph). Clearly related to the thesis—the sentences should all refer to the central idea, or thesis, of the paper. Coherent—the sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development. Well-developed—Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraphs controlling idea. When you write about a topic in more detail, you can turn paragraph into an essay. Similar to paragraph, an essay is composed of three sections. These sections are the introductory paragraph, the supporting paragraphs or the body, and the concluding paragraph. Paragraphs can be easily expanded to essay lengths. Below is a diagram that shows how a paragraph is expanded into an essay. The topic sentence of the paragraph becomes the thesis statement of the essay, which comes at the end of the introductory paragraph. The supporting sentences of the original paragraph expand into three separate body paragraphs in the essay. In other words, each major supporting sentence and its minor supports in model paragraph become one 24
  25. 25. body paragraph in the corresponding essay. Finally, the concluding sentence is made into a concluding paragraph. Title Introduction ………………… Thesis Statement Body Topic Sentence …………………… Major Support Minor Supports Major Support Minor Supports ……………………. Concluding Sentence Topic Sentence Major Support Minor Support Topic Sentence Minor Support ……………………….. Major Support Major Support Minor Supports Minor Support Major Support Minor Support Minor Supports Minor Support Major Support Minor Supports Major Support ………………………… Minor Support Concluding Sentence Minor Support Concluding Sentence Topic Sentence …………………… Major Support Minor Supports Major Support Minor Supports ……………………. Concluding Sentence ConclusionDiagram: Paragraph to Essay Two other points about the expansion of a paragraph are important. First 25
  26. 26. each body paragraph mirrors the construction of the original paragraph. Just as theparagraphs had a topic sentence, supporting sentence, and a concluding sentence,so does each body paragraph. Second, the body paragraphs support the thesisstatement of the essay, just as the supporting sentences in a paragraph support thetopic sentence. [1, p.37-59] §1.5 The Thesis Statement A thesis statement notifies your reader of your original idea regarding atopic. While your general argument may be something like ―Slavery didn‘t causethe Civil War,‖ your thesis statement gives your original, specific idea about asubject. A thesis statement should be neither obvious nor vague. A thesis mustbe controversial and arguable; it should be possible for someone to come up witha reasonable argument contradicting your own. The thesis statement introduces the main idea of the essay. – It states the main topic of the essay. – It may list the subtopics of the main topic. – It may also mention the method of organization. – It is the last sentence of the introduction. Example of a good thesis statement: Disagreement between the North andSouth over tariffs and states‘ rights was a more significant cause of the Civil Warthan were opposing views about slavery. This thesis statement is strong. It makes a controversial claim against whichpeople could argue and clearly identifies specific economic and political factors. When you are asked to write an essay that creates an argument, your readerwill probably expect a clear statement of your position. Typically, this summarystatement comes in the first paragraph of the essay, though there is no rigid ruleabout position. Here are some characteristics of good thesis statements, withsamples of good and poor ones. Note that the better examples substitute specific 26
  27. 27. argumentative points for sweeping general statements; they indicate a theoreticalbasis and promise substantial support. A good thesis makes a definite and limited assertion that needs to beexplained and supported by further discussion, an intriguing one not trite andirrelevant. It shows the emphasis and indicates the methodology of your argument,one that is worth attention not ague and emotional. It shows awareness ofdifficulties and disagreements, suitably complex.  Some Myths about Thesis Statements - Every paper requires one. Assignments that ask you to write personalresponses or to explore a subject dont want you to seem to pre-judge the issues.Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects ratherthan seeming to box yourself into one view of the text. - A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph. This is anatural position for a statement of focus, but its not the only one. Some theses canbe stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two ofintroduction; others cant be fully formulated until the end. - A thesis statement must be one sentence in length, no matter how manyclauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use twoor three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a wholetightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position. - You cant start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement. Itmay be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start ofa big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your waythrough your ideas as you write a paper. And some essays projects need to explorethe question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even atentative answer. - A thesis statement must give three points of support. It should indicate thatthe essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points dont need tocome in any specific number. 27
  28. 28. A thesis should include the following information: A. The term to be defined. B. Sentence definition of the term. C. Reason(s) for giving a more detailed definition D. The kinds of additional information that will be used to extend the definition. [17, p.21-68] §1.6 The Introductory Paragraph The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay. It begins the essay andhas two parts: general statements and the thesis statement. General statements give the reader background information about the topicof the essay. They should be interesting enough to keep the reader‘s attention. The following strategies for capturing readers‘ attention should be taken intoconsideration: 1. Find a startling statistic that illustrates the seriousness of the problem you will address. 2. Quote an expert (but be sure to introduce him or her first). 3. Mention a common misperception that your thesis will argue against. 4. Give some background information necessary for understanding the essay. 5. Use a brief narrative or anecdote that exemplifies your reason for choosing the topic. In an assignment that encourages personal reflection, you may draw on your own experiences; in a research essay, the narrative may illustrate a common real-world scenario. 6. In a science paper, explain key scientific concepts and refer to relevant literature. Lead up to your own contribution or intervention. 7. In a more technical paper, define a term that is possibly unfamiliar to your audience but is central to understanding the essay.In fleshing out the introduction, avoid some common pitfalls: 28
  29. 29. 1. Dont provide dictionary definitions, especially of words your audience already knows. 2. Dont repeat the assignment specifications using the professors wording. 3. Dont give details and in-depth explanations that really belong in your body paragraphs. You can usually postpone background material to the body of the essay. [9, p.45-74] Useful Strategies for Introductions 1. BACKGROUND: The background strategy is frequently used. Thisstrategy may include historical or chronological information pertinent to yourthesis. This material helps the reader to understand the importance of your thesis. 2. DEFINITIONS: If your paper contains abstract subjects (such as "love" or"courage") or a subject with a variety of meanings, your opening can define howyou plan to use the term. Avoid giving dictionary definitions. 3. QUESTION: A question or series of questions makes the readercontemplate your subject immediately. Be careful, however, not to rely on thisstrategy as a "quick fix." Your questions must have substance, and they must bethoroughly answered in the text. 4. QUOTATION: Choose a brief quotation that summarizes the points ofyour paper. Be sure to discuss its significance immediately afterward to show itsconnection to your thesis. 5. DIRECT ADDRESS: Use "you" or second person only when writingdirectly to your audience or when the subject is something about your audience.This is effective when giving instructions or advice or when writing persuasively 6. ANECDOTE: A brief story can make a point related to your thesis. Thisis a dramatic type of introduction. It is often used with narratives or charactersketches. 7. DESCRIPTION: A brief, vivid picture is an excellent way to set a scene.It places the reader in the center of things and serves as a lead-in to the essay. 8. STATISTICS: State some striking facts or statistics you have discovered 29
  30. 30. about your topic. This information may be startling evidence about your topic thatwill hook the reader into exploring the essay. 9. STRAWMAN: Challenge some generally held assumption about yourtopic by taking exception to a usually held critical view. Readers enjoy thisapproach if you are able to provide proof for your view. EXAMPLE: The picture-perfect family includes a mother and father, who are forever in love, threewonderful children, and perhaps a dog who can often be found on the living-roomcouch even though it is not allowed in the living room. But many families todayare less than picture-perfect, and mine is one of them. When my father walked outeight years ago, he turned the picture into a puzzle, and took some of the pieceswith him. Since that time, however, a combination of love, understanding, andmutual commitment has helped us to put the other pieces back together.Source: College Student 10. COMBINATION: Often combining strategies can create an effectiveintroduction. For example, a question and a definition or straw man with statisticscan be good combinations. [46, p.135-156]Below are some helpful suggestions for writing effective introductions.1. Your introduction should capture the readers attention.2. Usually one fully developed paragraph is sufficient.3. Introduce your subject in a general way; then come to the point, or vice versa.4. The point is your thesis. The thesis is usually the last sentence of the paragraph.(In persuasive writing, however, the writers position often is expressedimmediately; the rest of the introduction follows.)5. Do not try to be cute. You can be creative and original.6. If you write your introduction first, be sure to revise it afterward.7. Make the tone consistent with the essay.8. Create some kind of suspense that is resolved by the thesis statement.9. Avoid "It is my opinion...," "I believe...," "I will discuss...," On this paper I amgoing to...," Etc. 30
  31. 31. 10. Begin your essay with a sentence that grabs your readers attention.11. Do not repeat your exact title in the introduction. However, do allude to yourtitle somewhere in the paper to show the strong connection between your ideas andthe title.12. Establish the need for discussion. Answer the question, "Why should anyonebe interested in this?" §1.7 Body Paragraphs Paragraph structures provide a map for writer‘s ideas, guiding readers throughhis reasoning. This simple set of principles should be kept in mind while writing,and used as a checklist when revising. 1. Topic sentences begin every paragraph. They should introduce new information that confirms or complicates the thesis statement. The topic sentence nearly always works best at the beginning of a paragraph so that the reader knows what to expect. 2. Evidence and analysis. Within the paragraph, use specific evidence to support the idea stated in your topic sentence. Use analysis sentences to explain why this evidence supports your argument. The body of a paragraph develops and demonstrates what topic sentences state. Here are some common patterns: • Explain more fully what you mean, giving definitions or indicating distinctions. • Offer details, examples, or relevant quotations (with your comments). • Follow through a logical sequence, showing the connections among your ideas in a recognizable pattern such as cause and effect or comparison and contrast. 3. Transitions within paragraphs. The ideas in a body paragraph should come in a logical and clear sequence that explains, complicates, or develops the idea put forth in the paragraph‘s topic sentence. 31
  32. 32. o Transitional words (―furthermore,‖ ―in contrast,‖ ―for example,‖ ―as a result‖) help your reader understand the way that you are developing your main idea. 4. Transitions between paragraphs. Each paragraph should explicitly relate to the preceding and following paragraph. o Phrases like ―also important,‖ ―in addition,‖ or ―we should also note that‖ are weak because they don‘t explain the relationship between ideas in consecutive paragraphs. Example of a body paragraph: Disagreements between the North and South regarding cotton tariffs createda divisive political atmosphere that was instrumental in states’ decisions to secedefrom the Union. Vice President John Calhoun proposed that individual states hadthe right to nullify specific acts of Congress in order to protect the welfare of thestates against the federal government. When Calhoun proposed this doctrine ofnullification, it became clear that the South worried that the North was wieldingpower in order to damage the South’s economy. This worry influenced theSouthern states to consider separation from the North. In short, the economic issueof cotton export, separate from moral concerns over slavery, marked the initialsplit between North and South. This body paragraph is effective because it states an argument and then usesevidence persuasively. A strong topic sentence is supported by a specific incident,which is then explained. The paragraph does not simply retell the eventssurrounding cotton exportation. Rather, it shows how economic concern aboutcotton relates to the division between North and South. [54, p.43-119] Choose Appropriate Paragraph Length A series of long paragraphs can make prose dense and unpleasant to read.Check any paragraph that is longer than a page to see if it would work better as twoor more paragraphs. Break it at a logical place (e.g., where your focus shifts), and 32
  33. 33. see whether you need to create new topic sentences to make the shift clear. Also look for paragraphs only two or three sentences long. They makeacademic writing seem disjointed or skimpy. Try combining a few shortparagraphs into one, using a single topic sentence to hold them together. §1.8 The Concluding Paragraph A concluding paragraph must be a part of every essay. The length of theconcluding paragraph will vary with the length of the paper or essay. It does threethings. – It signals the end of the essay. – It summarizes the main points. – It leaves the reader with the writer‘s final thoughts on the subject. To signal the end of an essay, some concluding transition signals such as inconclusion, in summary, or to summarize can be used. Then, either summarize themain points of the essay or rewrite the thesis statement in different words. E.g. Thesis statement: In fact, television may be a bad influence on childrenfor three main reasons. Conclusion: In conclusion, if children watch too much television or watchthe wrong programs, their personalities can be harmed. Furthermore, their progressin school can be affected. A strong conclusion will provide a sense of closure to the essay while againplacing your concepts in a somewhat wider context. It will also, in some instances,add a stimulus to further thought. Since no two essays are the same, no singleformula will automatically generate an introduction and conclusion. But thefollowing guidelines will be helpful to construct a suitable beginning and end foran essay. An effective conclusion reminds the reader of the central point of thethesis statement. 33
  34. 34. 1. A conclusion is not merely a summary of your points or a re-statement of your thesis. If you wish to summarize—and often you must—do so in fresh language. Remind the reader of how the evidence you‘ve presented has contributed to your thesis.2. The conclusion, like much of the rest of the paper, involves critical thinking. Reflect upon the significance of what you‘ve written. Try to convey some closing thoughts about the larger implications of your argument.3. Broaden your focus a bit at the end of the essay. A good last sentence leaves your reader with something to think about, a concept in some way illuminated by what you‘ve written in the paper.4. For most essays, one well-developed paragraph is sufficient for a conclusion. In some cases, a two-or-three paragraph conclusion may be appropriate. As with introductions, the length of the conclusion should reflect the length of the essay. [59, p.76-92] The following strategies may help you move beyond merely summarizing thekey points of your essay:1. If your essay deals with a contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem.2. Recommend a specific course of action.3. Use an apt quotation or expert opinion to lend authority to the conclusion you have reached.4. Give a startling statistic, fact, or visual image to drive home the ultimate point of your paper.5. If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point with a relevant narrative drawn from your own life experiences.6. Return to an anecdote, example, or quotation that you introduced in your introduction, but add further insight that derives from the body of your essay.7. In a science or social science paper, mention worthwhile avenues for future research on your topic. 34
  35. 35. Remember the following recommendations:  Make the implications of your thesis clear.  Widen the significance of your introduction.  Recommend a specific course of action.  Answer a question posed by the introduction.  Reflect on the experience that the essay record.  Reaffirm your thesis with a final telling example. [39, p.128-168]§1.9 Guidelines on Composing an Essay Essays can range from being five paragraphs to twenty pages or more,covering any topic, whether its what you learned from your dog, or why societiesbecome hierarchies. What all essays have in common, however, is that they muststay true to the roots of the word "essay" which derives from the Frenchinfinitive essayer, meaning "to try" or "to attempt". An essay is essentially yourattempt to explain your point of view, and a skillfully written essay is clear,illuminating and informative. Define the context. If the essay is assigned, certain parameters will usuallybe defined for you, such as the length of the essay, format of the title page, and theintended audience (e.g. your teacher, an admissions committee, a cheating website)and what length is appropriate. No matter what, if youre given directions, followthem. A brilliant essay might still fail to get its point across if it doesnt follow therules. Remember, the main point is what you should concentrate on. Stick to thequestion key words throughout your essay. If the question is given and it asks youto describe for example an important character in a novel, you must always refrainfrom saying an ‗interesting or admirable character‘ stick to the words of thequestion. Choose a topic. Often this will be decided for you, but if not, try to choose 35
  36. 36. something youre interested in or, better yet, passionate about. It will make theessay easier to write. On the other hand you could choose a stand you disagreewith because it will allow you to see flaws in your argument more easily. You canalso think of your thesis statement at this point, but it shouldnt be set in stone sinceit may be elaborated or changed as you do your research in the next step. A thesisstatement is what your essay is attempting to explain and prove. Make sure yourthesis statement explains everything you will talk about in the essay. It should alsobe no longer than 1 sentence. You can brainstorm a few different thesis statementsand use them to guide your research. Gather your information. Whether its personal observations or scientificfacts, youll need evidence to back up your thesis statement. Take detailed notes,keeping track of which facts come from which sources. As youre researching yourtopic, dont ignore facts and claims that seem to disprove your thesis statement. Agood essayist includes the contrary evidence and shows why such evidence is notvalid. Plan your essay. This is the time to solidify your thesis statement. Lookover all of your research and notes: Can you observe any patterns or observations?Try making a mind map to organize your thoughts. Maybe you started out wantingto show how youd give back to the community, but now you see a better pointwould be that youre a good role model for others like yourself. Let the evidencespeak for itself. If you dont have enough information to demonstrate anything, youmay need to do more research or modify your thesis statement (or even your topic).If you have enough material to sustain a thesis statement, however make an outlineto organize your research with headings and sub-headings. Write the body of your essay first. Identify three or more points thatsupport and/or explain your thesis statement. Each point should be supported byspecific evidence, examples or arguments. In shorter essays, such as a five-paragraph essay, each point should be supported by a single paragraph; but inlonger essays, an entire page or more might be required to demonstrate a singlepoint. Use your outline as a guide, presenting the information in full sentences that 36
  37. 37. flow logically from one to the next. After you write out all of your points, arrangethe points themselves so that they flow logically from one to the next. Conclude your essay. Summarize your points and suggest ways in whichyour conclusion can be thought of in a larger sense. What are the implications ofyour thesis statement being true? Whats the next step? What questions remainunanswered? This is not the place to introduce any new information that supportsyour thesis--you should only be "repackaging what you already discussed, using abroader perspective. Write the introduction. Now that youve written the body and theconclusion, youre in the best position to tell the reader what theyre getting into.Explain your thesis statement, and how youre going to affirm it, without being toospecific. Do not use obvious expressions such as, "This essay is about..." or "Thetopic of this essay is..." or "I will now show that...» One approach is to begin witha general statement, then follow it with a question or problem, then with yourthesis statement, and a brief overview of your points Read through your essay. For now, dont worry about typos or grammaticalerrors; underline them so you can go back and fix them later. Go from start tofinish seeing how your essay flows. Does each sentence lead smoothly to the next?Does each paragraph flow logically to the next? Each statement should beconnected or related somehow to the one before it, not thrown randomly together. Revise, revise, and revise! Writing the paper the first time is not the mostimportant part of writing an essay—revision is! Sometimes the paper you write isnot the essay you originally planned. It is difficult to accomplish all that one setsout to in a paper, and sometimes you may find that your ideas about your subjecthave changed as youve been writing. Make sure youre happy with the way yourpaper presents its points. Dont like it? Re-arrange it (thats one of the great thingsabout writing with a word processor; its easy to do things like this). Once yourehappy with the body, make sure the conclusion and introduction (in that order) stillmatch it AND match the way you see your topic now. If not, rewrite them to fit theessay you did write (not the one you started out to write) and the way you see your 37
  38. 38. topic now. Proofread. Now check for spelling and/or grammatical errors. If using a word processors spell checker, remember that it only checks to see if a word is misspelled. For example, if you meant to use the word "write" and instead used "writ" the spell checker will pass it without noticing, since writ is an actual word.o Vary your language with the help of a thesaurus. Consult a dictionary to make sure that youre using the synonym adversely.o Avoid using colloquial (informal) writing. Do not use contractions or abbreviations, such as dont, cant, wont, shouldnt, couldve, or havent. Use formal English: do not, cannot, will not, should not, could have, have not. Your essay should have a serious tone, even if written in a light or lyrical style.o Use English punctuation correctly. Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, or commas. Avoid using exclamation points to emphasize your statements. [6, p.156-170] §1.10 Common Essay Problems Essay writing may seem to be trivial task that doesn‘t require a lot of expertise and may be performed by anyone who has at least basic understanding of principles along which the English language works. This assumption, however, ends when one encounters an actual necessity of writing an essay – the task turns out to be much more difficult, than it seemed to be. That‘s why it is a good idea to know what the common mistakes students make when writing them. 1. Unstructured: Many essays are not structured, which makes them difficult for the markers to read. Without structure, reading an essay is like a discovery journey: your marker will never be sure what is around the corner. This might sound appealing, but you‘re not writing a thriller. Your 38
  39. 39. marker will have difficulty to see whether and how what you write is relevant to the question set. Following the advice in this paper, you can avoid this problem by outlining at the beginning how you‘re going to answer the question (delimit). Your reader will know what is coming up. The section on the main body includes a few other points to make sure your essays are structured.2. Rambling: The problem of rambling is often just a symptom of the above problem: lack of structure. By thinking in a structured way, tendencies to ramble are reduced. Following a reasonable form of preparation will also help. Once you know what you‘re going to say, and in what order you‘re going to say it, it‘s much easier to stay on track.3. Not relevant: Unfortunately many essays that are written are as such great essays, but include substantive sections that are not relevant. The problem may be that not enough time is spent planning the essay. It may also be the case that the irrelevant bits merely appear to be irrelevant. The trick in the latter case is to link the paragraphs using suitable phrases, and actively demonstrate how the illustrations are relevant, for instance.4. Unconnected: For the same reasons as in the above point, essays may be or appear unconnected. A good plan can be the first line of defence: making sure that you yourself know how the different bits link. The next thing to do, again, is using phrases that connect different paragraphs and sections. Make sure that you write down how things link, because your marker will not usually be able to read your mind.5. Unclear: An essay can be well put together, and the reader still be left unclear about what exactly is being said. The problem is in most cases the lack of delimitation and definition. This means that the essay does not state what is and is not written about and also that key terms are not defined. Much unclarity can stem from misunderstandings, the reader understanding terms in a different way from what you intended them to mean. What is 39
  40. 40. clear to you may not be so for the marker. Making sure it‘s down on paper, this problem can be prevented.6. Difficult: Essays that are difficult to read often suffer from one of the following symptoms: lack of illustrations, lack of conceptual clarity, or lack of guidance. Illustrations are not a nice to have, but an essential part of most essays. Think about the examples when you plan the essay. Conceptual clarity can be remedied by providing definitions, as outlined in the previous point. The lack of guidance means that your readers will feel lost, not knowing where the essay will go next. Providing a clear introduction that delimits the scope of the answer is sometimes all that is needed. Within the main body, linking sections and paragraphs helps further.7. There is no thesis. A cardinal sin in essay-writing, you should make sure you have a main point. Otherwise, all the work you do the rest of the way wont matter. The thesis is too general or too narrow. Cover too much area and youll have a hard time supplying sufficient arguments for your thesis; cover too little and you wont fill enough space for discussion. Find a middle ground that coincides with your word count requirements.8. Poor organization and no sense of direction. If theres no innate reason for one paragraph to follow another, then your essay is suffering from this problem. There are few, or inadequate transitions. There are too many generalizations and too little support for them. The introduction or conclusion is weak, or one simply repeats the other. To fix it, rearrange your ideas so that they develop into the conclusion you intend to make.9. There is a lack of adequate transitions. Its not uncommon to jump from one idea to another throughout the body of an essay. Thats provided that you supply adequate transitions to handle them. If you dont, theres a good chance the reader wont be able to follow how your writing builds up.10. There are too many generalizations without valid accompanying support. Any time you claim something that isnt a fact make sure you support it with valid reason and evidence. 40
  41. 41. 11. The introduction or conclusion isnt strong enough. Always put extra work in your introductions and conclusions. Theyre the first and last things a reader will see, so make sure they leave the right impressions. 12. Presentation. The essay is poorly set out, with inadequate space for the instructors comments. There are frequent typos or misspelled words. The most common problem, probably, is students failing to answer thequestion. By paying attention to the process and content words, the first part of theproblem is already resolved. Writing in a planned and structured way, theremainder is addressed, too. The amount of difficulties learners encounter while accomplishing writingtasks can be reduced by following the outlined approach to essay writing. Anumber of process writing activities and useful tips will be described in thefollowing subchapters. By following the approach of essay writing outlined in thispaper, you can avoid a whole range of very common essay problems. [44, p.6-23; 58, p.2-60] 41
  42. 42. Chapter II ESSAY WRITING PATTERNS Writing is like a journey: one starts with a blank sheet of paper and whatappears on it in the end of the trip depends only on the person himself. One shouldgo through every stage of essay writing process described to write the essay that: is focused; is logical; is clear; is well-structured; is deeply-argumentative; grabs the readers interest from the first lines; does not pad; provides illustrative evidence; gives credits to sources. A student has many options when choosing an essay pattern. Generally studentsdon‘t have a choice about the type of essay to write about, since this may havebeen determined by the assignment. If they do have a choice, however, they canfind a type that will best fit their personality. They might want to choose to write apersuasive argument; or perhaps they are gifted with great descriptive capabilities,instead. They could write a narrative of something interesting that took place, orperhaps a descriptive essay of an object. Whatever they decide to do, they will findthe assignment much more enjoyable and readable. Successful writers know that they produce the best material when they put alittle bit of heart and soul into their writing. So students can improve their gradesand writing if they personalize just a bit! [51, p.42] §2.1 Types of Essays Writing is the expression of language in the form of letters, symbols, orwords. The primary purpose of writing is communication. People have used manytools for writing including paint, pencils, pens, typewriters, and computers. Thewriting can be formed on the wall of a cave, a piece of paper, or a computer screen. 42
  43. 43. Books are considered a form of art through which men have literallyimmortalized themselves, as Julian Huxley points out ‗By speech first, but farmore by writing, man has been able to put something of himself beyond death. Intradition and in books an integral part of the individual persists, for it can influencethe minds and actions of other people in different places and at different times: arow of black marks on a page can move a man to tears, though the bones of himthat wrote it are long ago crumbled to dust.‘ Since the time people could record their creations on paper there have beenmany kinds of writings from which one can freely choose, such as: expository,exploratory, narrative, descriptive, critical, imaginative, deductive, persuasive andso forth. Each type has a different purpose. The choice to make is down to thewriter depending on his topic, audience and purpose, whether it is to inform, todescribe, to persuade, to entertain and so on. No matter the pattern a studentchooses, one thing he should not forget to ‗fill the paper with the breathings of hisheart‘ as W. Wordsworth suggests. According to A. Polotnik ‗you write tocommunicate to the hearts and minds of others what‘s burning inside you‘. Askillful writer is someone who can dive in and explore his soul bringing out of itsdepths genuine pearls to astonish and please his readers. Presented below are just a few out of the most common types of essays thatcan guide a learner of a foreign language to safely navigate through the roughocean of nowadays writings. [37, p.24-30] §2.1.1 Cause and Effect Essay Cause and effect essays are concerned with why things happen (causes) andwhat happens as a result (effects). Cause and effect is a common method oforganizing and discussing ideas. The following are several steps worth considering when writing a cause andeffect essay. 43
  44. 44. 1. Distinguish between cause and effect. To determine causes, ask, "Why did this happen?" To identify effects, ask, "What happened because of this?" The following is an example of one cause producing one effect: Cause You are out of gas. Effect Your car wont start. Sometimes, many causes contribute to a single effect or many effects mayresult from a single cause. The following are examples:Causes liked business in high school salaries in the field are high have an aunt who is an accountant am good with numbersEffect choose to major in accounting Cause reduce work hours Effects less income employer is irritated more time to study more time for family and friends However, most situations are more complicated. The following is an example of a chain reaction: Thinking about friend…forgot to buy gas…car wouldnt start…missed math exam…failed math course.2. Develop your thesis statement. State clearly whether you are discussing causes, effects, or both. Introduce your main idea, using the terms "cause" and/or "effect."3. Find and organize supporting details. Back up your thesis with relevant and sufficient details that are organized. You can organize details in the following ways: 44
  45. 45. Chronological. Details are arranged in the order in which the events occurred. Order of importance. Details are arranged from least to most important or vice versa. Categorical. Details are arranged by dividing the topic into parts or categories.4. Use appropriate transitions. To blend details smoothly in cause and effect essays, use the transitional words and phrases listed below.For causes because, due to, on cause is, another is, since, for, first, second, yet another factor, is caused by, results fromFor Effects consequently, as a result, thus, resulted in, one result is, another is, therefore, so, another outcome, one important effect When writing your essay, keep the following suggestions in mind: Remember your purpose. Decide if you are writing to inform or persuade. Focus on immediate and direct causes (or effects.) Limit yourself to causes that are close in time and related, as opposed to remote and indirect causes, which occur later and are related indirectly. Strengthen your essay by using supporting evidence. Define terms, offer facts and statistics, or provide examples, anecdotes, or personal observations that support your ideas. Qualify or limit your statements about cause and effect. Unless there is clear evidence that one event is related to another, qualify your statements with phrases such as "It appears that the cause was" or "It seems likely" or "The evidence may indicate" or "Available evidence suggests." To evaluate the effectiveness of a cause and effect essay, ask the following questions: What are the causes? What are the effects? Which should be emphasized? Are there single or multiple causes? Single or multiple effects? Is a chain reaction involved? Choosing the essay topic for cause and effect essay type is not difficult; here 45
  46. 46. are some sample essay topics: Effects of Pollution The Changes in the Ocean The Civil Rights Movement and the Effects Causes and Effects of the Popularity of Fast Food Restaurants Internet Influence on kids Popularity of Sports in US Make sure you choose the essay topic that is really important for you. Choosing the correct essay topic makes your cause and effect essay more interesting and successful. [16, p. 168-175] §2.1.2 Classification Essay In a classification essay, a writer organizes, or sorts, things into categories according to a single basis of division. Three Steps to Effective Classification:1. Sort things into useful categories.2. Make sure all the categories follow a single organizing principle.3. Give examples that fit into each category. ~ Finding Categories This is a key step in writing a classification essay. To classify, or sort, things in a logical way, find the categories to put them into. For example, say you need to sort the stack of papers on your desk. Before you would put them in random piles, you would decide what useful categories might be: papers that can be thrown away; papers that need immediate action; papers to read; papers to pass on to other coworkers; or papers to file. 46
  47. 47. ~ Thesis Statement of a Classification Essay The thesis statement usually includes the topic and how it is classified.Sometimes the categories are named. (topic)... (how classified)... (category) (category) (category) Ex: Tourists in Hawaii can enjoy three water sports: snorkeling, surfing,and sailing. ~ How to Write an Effective Classification Essay1. Determine the categories. Be thorough; dont leave out a critical category. For example, if you say water sports of Hawaii include snorkeling and sailing, but leave out surfing, your essay would be incomplete because surfing is Hawaiis most famous water sport. On the other hand, dont include too many categories, which will blur your classification. For example, if your topic is sports shoes, and your organizing principle is activity, you wouldnt include high heels with running and bowling shoes.2. Classify by a single principle. Once you have categories, make sure that they fit into the same organizing principle. The organizing principle is how you sort the groups. Do not allow a different principle to pop up unexpectedly. For example, if your unifying principle is "tourist-oriented" water sports, dont use another unifying principle, such as "native water sports," which would have different categories: pearl diving, outrigger, or canoe racing.3. Support equally each category with examples. In general, you should write the same quantity, i.e., give the same number of examples, for each category. The most important category, usually reserved for last, might require more elaboration. Common Classification Transitions The first kind/type/group/category, the second kind, the third kind, can be divided, can be classified, can be categorized. Remember: In a classification essay, the writer organizes, or sorts, things 47
  48. 48. into categories. There are three steps to remember when writing an effectiveclassification essay: organize things into useful categories, use a single organizingprinciple, and give examples of things that fit into each category. Below are some sample classification essay topics: Classification of historical events in US Countries classification (territory, popularity, etc) Sport Cars Classification Most Popular TV Shows in America Classification of Physiological Diseases You can choose essay topic for your classification essay you are familiarwith. [14, p.122-128] §2.1.3 Comparison and Contrast Essay To write a comparison or contrast essay that is easy to follow, first decidewhat the similarities or differences are by writing lists on scrap paper. Which aremore significant, the similarities or the differences? Plan to discuss the lesssignificant first, followed by the more significant. It is much easier to discussONLY the similarities or ONLY the differences, but you can also do both. Then for organizing your essay, choose one of the plans described belowwhichever best fits your list. Finally, and this is important, what main point (thesis)might you make in the essay about the two people/things being compared? Do notbegin writing until you have a point that the similarities or differences you want touse help to prove. Your point should help shape the rest of what you say: Forexample, if you see that one of your similarities or differences is unrelated to thepoint, throw it out and think of one that is related. Or revise your point. Be surethis main point is clearly and prominently expressed somewhere in the essay. Plan A: Use Plan A if you have many small similarities and/or differences.After your introduction, say everything you want to say about the first work or 48
  49. 49. character, and then go on in the second half of the essay to say everything about the second work or character, comparing or contrasting each item in the second with the same item in the first. In this format, all the comparing or contrasting, except for the statement of your main point, which you may want to put in the beginning, goes on in the SECOND HALF of the piece. Plan B: Use Plan B if you have only a few, larger similarities or differences. After your introduction, in the next paragraph discuss one similarity or difference in BOTH works or characters, and then move on in the next paragraph to the second similarity or difference in both, then the third, and so forth, until youre done. If you are doing both similarities and differences, juggle them on scrap paper so that in each part you put the less important first ("X and Y are both alike in their social positions . . ."), followed by the more important ("but X is much more aware of the dangers of his position than is Y"). In this format, the comparing or contrasting goes on in EACH of the middle parts. The following outline may be helpful; however, do not be limited by it.1. Introduction with thesis2. 1st similarity: a) 1st work b) 2nd work3. 2nd similarity: a) 1st work b) 2nd work4. 1st difference: a) 1st work b) 2nd work5. 2nd difference: a) 1st work b) 2nd work See the following topic suggestions for your comparison essay. For example: Stages of My Life Two Places I have Visited My Two Best Friends Two Political Candidates Bulimia and Anorexia 49