How to write an essay: part 3

Essays are ‘formula-writing’ at its best!  Still, many people go through school without ever learning the ‘formula’…

This series of posts is hoping to explain the ‘formula’ of essay-writing, and break it up into specific, easily comprehended pieces.

Part 1 attempted to explain how to ‘organize’ one’s points prior to starting the process of writing an essay.

Part 2 attempted to explain the ‘skeleton’ of the essay itself and how to get down the ideas/points for each of the main parts.

However, I got a little hung up on the fact that I could not figure out how to import tables into this blog… because I have made all the ‘templates’ in the form of tables… This has slowed me down a little – my apologies.

Since the inability to include ‘tables’ has sidetracked me (to say the least), I have not been as clear as I ought-to have been in explaining the ‘skeleton’ of the essay.  Please, allow me to remedy this by re-stating what the ‘basic structure’ of an essay is and the mechanics of what each ‘bit’ is supposed to accomplish:

Once the main point (title) and point of view have been chosen (or assigned), the rest of the essay needs to be crafted into the essay’s framework:

‘Opening’ paragraph

Role:

  • introduce the topic and explain what point the essay will make.

Mechanics:

  • Introduce the topic.
  • Make the ‘main point’ (of the essay) about it (the topic).
  • Explain how you will prove your point (by mentioning the points in each of the ‘middle paragraphs’=’body of the essay’)
  • Sum up the paragraph/re-state the main point.

‘Body’ of the essay

Role:

  • to provide the ‘proof’ of the opening paragraph.

Mechanics:

  • Typically, the body of the essay will contain 3 paragraphs (this refers .
  • Each paragraph will contain 1 ‘proof’/’support’ of the ‘main point’.
  • The structure of each of these ‘middle’/’body of the essay’ paragraphs will mirror the structure of the essay:  except inside the paragraph, it will be ‘opening sentence’ which introduces the ‘point’ to be made, ‘middle/body of the paragraph sentences’ which presents it and ‘makes the point’, and the ‘closing sentence’ which ties the ‘point’ of the  paragraph to the ‘point of the essay’ and sums up/closes the paragraph.

‘Concluding’ paragraph

Role:

  • Re-state the ‘main point’.
  • Explain how each of the ‘body’ paragraphs proved the ‘main point’. (That is, re-phrase the concluding sentences of the ‘middle’/’body of the essay’ paragraphs and tie them together to the ‘main point’ of the essay.)
  • State that (perhaps alluding to how) the ‘main point’ has ‘been proven’: this‘closes’ the essay.

Now that the ‘greater structure’ of the essay has been re-stated, it is time to address the structure of the individual paragraphs.

These break down into 2 main groups:

  • the ‘opening/closing’ paragraphs
    • their ‘common’ parts consist of:
      • stating the ‘main point’ of the essay – and the ‘point of view’ which the essay will present about the ‘main point’
      • using the ‘proof’/’supporting points’ from the ‘middle’/’supporting point’ paragraphs to illustrate the ‘point of view’ (one’s ‘take’ or ‘twist’ on the ‘main point’)
    • their ‘differences’ consist of:
      • the ‘opening paragraph’ introduces the topic, states the ‘main point’ – with the specific ‘point of view’ – and ‘touches on’ the ways in which this ‘proof’ will be made
      • the ‘closing paragraph’ re-states the ‘main topic’, ties the ‘proof’ from each of the paragraphs in the ‘body of the essay’ to the ‘main point’ (short version of the explanation of how they ‘prove’ the ‘main point’) and state that the point had thus been proven
    • thus, these two paragraphs are ‘mirror images’ of each other:  they both state the same information.  One says ‘it will be demonstrated’ – the other ‘it has been demonstrated’ and the words selected to make this statement need to be different form each other – but complementary to each other….still, the core of both paragraphs remains the same.
  • the paragraphs which form the ‘main body’ of the essay
    • usually, there are 3 paragraphs which form the ‘main body’ of the essay
    • each of these paragraphs focuses on 1 major idea which ‘proves’ or ‘supports’ the ‘point of view’ of the ‘main idea’ which is the focus (point) of the essay
    • each paragraph must be formatted so as to be able to stand on its own, even outside the essay.
    • the first and last sentences of each of these paragraphs must explain how the ‘focus’ of this paragraph and how it relates (supports) the focus of the essay.

In addition, it is important to address the language which is to be used in an essay.

Essays are written in complex sentences with use ‘formal’ language.  This means that no ‘I’ or ‘you’ statements are permitted.

Essays are a presentation of opinions and arguments.  Therefore, all statements such as ‘I think that’ or ‘I feel’ – and similar phrases which define ‘opinion’ are redundant and not permitted in essay-writing.

When utilizing the formal language expected in an essay, it is best to avoid contractions (i.e. write ‘was not’ rather than ‘wasn’t), all forms of slang ans well as colloquialisms.  In most cases, past tense is used.  Of course, this does not apply to any direct quotations which are used as support for the points in the essay.

Hopefully, this will clarify part 1 and 2, while explaining them more clearly.

Note:  this post has been edited to remove some typo’s….thanks to Mrs. Lu for spotting them!
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3 Responses to “How to write an essay: part 3”

  1. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    This post concludes a masterful exposition of essay writing… bravo!

    We used to say, tell ‘em three times: tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, then tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.

  2. Mrs. Lu Says:

    You might want to adjust the spelling in your opener:
    “Essays are ‘fromula-wrinting’ at its best”

    Not to be persnickety or anything.

    Xanthippa says:
    THANKS!!! Much appreciated – and done!

  3. barbs Says:

    I’m an aspie girl who studies English Literature. I heave a hard time writing essays because English is my second language and I like to express myself in an exact way. I know a lot about books, their structure and have great memory for quotes and can memorize long passages or poems, yet sometimes I find it difficult to see how the themes in a book are related to each other. When writing essays, I get lost in the details, wander off the topic or in general can’t find a coherent way of getting the ideas I have across. This has been the most useful guide I have seen so far, so thanks a lot:)

    Xanthippa says:
    Rado se stalo!


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