How to Write An Essay

 

An essay has three parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. The essay works almost like those famous BBC news programs following a three-step formula:

a. Tell them what you're going to tell them

b. Tell them

c. Tell them what you've told them

 

The Introduction Or Tell Them What You're Going to Tell Them

 

1. The introduction contains opening remarks (lead-in or hook) to catch the reader's interest encouraging him or her to go on and actually read the essay. Always remember that a living breathing human being is going to read your paper, so make it interesting.

 

There are several methods to make your lead-in more interesting:

1. Begin with a broad general statement of your TOPIC and narrow it down to your thesis statement. Broad general statements ease the reader into your thesis statement by providing a background for it.

2. Start with an idea or situation that is the opposite of the one you will develop. This approach works because your reader will be surprised, and then intrigued, by the contrast between the opening idea and the thesis that follows.

3. Explain the importance to your readers. If you can convince your readers that the subject in some way applies to them, or is something they should know more about, they would want to keep reading. Write in an informed tone for someone who isn't in the class. You will therefore have to define terms and offer clear examples of what you mean.

4. Use an incident or brief story. Stories are naturally interesting. They appeal to a reader's curiosity. In your introduction, an anecdote will grab the reader's attention right away. The story should be brief and should be RELATED to your MAIN IDEA. The incident in the story can be something that happened to you, something you have heard about, or something you have read about in a newspaper or magazine. But, remember, the same rules of DETAILS apply to the anecdote: WHO? WHAT? WHY? WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

5. Use a quotation. A quotation can be something you read in a book or article. It can also be something that you have heard: a popular saying or proverb; a current or recent advertising slogan; a favorite expression used by friends and family.

 

Introduction (Set-up)

The introduction will provide any background information (set-up) needed to understand the essay. Such information is needed so that the reader has a CONTEXT in which to understand the ideas presented in the essay. In other words: WHO? WHAT? WHY? WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

Introduction (Thesis)

The introduction will present a THESIS SENTENCE. This clear, direct statement of the main idea to be developed occurs near the end of the introductory paragraph. The introduction also will also indicate a PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT. In this PREVIEW the major POINTS that will support the THESIS are listed in the order in which they will be presented in the essay. The thesis must be clearly stated in the introduction.

The Body Paragraphs Or Tell Them

The body paragraphs will develop EACH idea presented in the THESIS SENTENCE and PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT and will provide concrete, specific FACTS to SUPPORT the POINT or IDEA that is being developed in the paragraph. In other words: WHO? WHAT? WHY? WHERE? WHEN? HOW?

a. The three body paragraphs must contain: Two supporting examples for each TOPIC SENTENCE with specific FACTS to support each claim. In other words, the example must be about a specific person (Who is the person--name, etc?), What did they do? Where (Place) did the action occur? When (Time--age, etc) did the action occur? Why did s/he behave like this? How did this action affect /change you? How did they perform the action? How long (specifically) did it take them to perform the action?

b. All body paragraphs must be on target to back up or SUPPORT your THESIS, must have a clear method of organization, show a variety of sentence skills, and use transitions and other connecting words. In each body paragraph, your topic sentence represents a claim/assertion or broad generalization. You then provide specific details/examples: (FIRES: Facts, Incidents, Reasons, Examples, Statistics) as support for your claim. Your details must be plausible and memorable!

 

The Conclusion Or Tell Them What You've Told Them

3. The conclusion is the final chance to remind the reader of your THESIS. The conclusion may end with a summary and final thought or end with prediction or recommendation. A prediction states what will or may happen in the future and a recommendation suggests what should be done about a situation or problem. Remember, always restate and re-emphasize your THESIS.

Source:

Langan, John. College Writing Skills. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997

Essay Checklist

Please check your essay for these essay components BEFORE you turn in your paper for a grade. I WILL BE CHECKING YOUR PAPERS FOR THESE COMPONENTS

The Introduction

_____Does the introduction contain a lead-in or hook?

_____Does the introduction contain a set-up using FACTS: Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?

_____ Does the introduction contain a quotation from Awakening the Heroes Within?

_____Does the introduction contain a thesis statement and plan of development: What ideas related to the thesis are you going to develop?

 

The Body

Paragraph 1 of the Body

______Does the paragraph contain a topic sentence: What point are you trying to make in this paragraph?

_____ Does the paragraph contain FACTS with specific details? (Who? What? Why Where? When? How?), anecdotes, and further proof.

_____ Does the paragraph contain a quotation from Awakening the Heroes Within?

______Does the paragraph contain transitions?

 

Paragraph 2 of the Body

______Does the paragraph contain a topic sentence: What point are you trying to make in this paragraph?

____ Does the paragraph contain FACTS with specific details? (Who? What? Why Where? When? How?), anecdotes, and further proof.

_____ Does the paragraph contain a quotation from Awakening the Heroes Within?

______Does the paragraph contain transitions?

 

Paragraph 3 of the Body

______Does the paragraph contain a topic sentence: What point are you trying to make in this paragraph?

____ Does the paragraph contain FACTS with specific details? (Who? What? Why Where? When? How?), anecdotes, and further proof.

_____ Does the paragraph contain a quotation from Awakening the Heroes Within?

______Does the paragraph contain transitions?

The Conclusion.

_____Does the conclusion contain a reward, a threat, a vision and a restatement of the thesis?

_____ Does the conclusion restate and re-emphasize your thesis?

_____ Does the paper conform to the MLA style?