Elements of the Essay by NLCP

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									                         Elements of the Essay

 HOCs (higher order concerns)
      i.e. the things you should revise first

Thesis, Claim, or Argument (these are all synonyms)
The thesis is your main insight or idea about a text or topic. It ought to be true but arguable (not so
obvious that everyone would agree), and it should be limited enough to be explored thoroughly
within the length of your paper. The thesis should be stated early in the essay in some way, and
reiterated throughout. It should govern the whole essay (not disappear in places).

Evidence
The facts, data, examples, details, and opinions of others that you quote, paraphrase, or summarize
in support of your thesis. An essay needs to have enough evidence to prove the thesis, but also
needs to have the right kind of evidence for the particular essay. The kind of evidence that is most
appropriate will vary depending on the type of essay (literature review, research paper, personal
narrative). Each piece of evidence you present requires set-up to explain its source, analysis to
show its relevance to your argument, and a citation to prove its validity.

Analysis
The analysis is your work of breaking down, interpreting, or commenting on the evidence and
explaining how it supports your thesis. This is what you do with the data when you go beyond
observing or summarizing it; you show how its parts contribute to a whole or how causes
contribute to an effect, or you draw out the significance or implication of your evidence not
apparent at first glance. Your analysis is perhaps the most important part of the essay because it is
where you demonstrate original thought.

Structure
The structure is the sequence of sections or sub-topics and the transitions between them.
Your essay should follow a logical order and the links between paragraphs should be apparent.
Paragraph division, topic sentences, and transitions are important pieces of the structure.

Background
Background is the bits of information, explanation, and summary which orient the reader who is
likely not an expert on the subject about which you are writing. Background also includes key
terms, which are words or phrases that are vital to your paper and reoccur throughout it. Making
sure that you and your reader have the same understanding of these terms is an important part of
providing background information.

Audience or Tone
For any paper, it is important to know who your audience (besides your teacher) is supposed to be.
The amount of background information needed and the tone of your writing (i.e. persuasive,
personal) will change depending on who will be reading it. The intended audience will also have
some effect on the appropriateness of the personal pronouns, “I” or “you” in a given paper.
And some essays will require…
Counter-argument and rebuttal
This is a chance for you to demonstrate that you have thought about all sides of your argument –
even the argument against it. In the counter-argument, you present a strong opposing viewpoint
and then explain why your thesis still holds up with a rebuttal.

Sources
Sources are the people or documents referred to, summarized, or quoted that help you demonstrate
the truth of your argument. Sources must be fully integrated into your paper and evidence from
sources must be explained and analyzed so that your reader sees their connection to your thesis.
Sources should also be cited properly to avoid misunderstandings or accidental plagiarism.



 LOCs (later order concerns)
Note: the following are considered later order concerns because they cannot and should not be dealt with
until the higher order concerns have been considered. It would be counter-productive to spend a great
deal of time perfecting the commas in a sentence if that sentence does not support your thesis and needs to
be removed.

Grammar
Run-on sentences, sentence fragments, subject-verb agreement, correct use of the verb to be, etc.

Punctuation
Commas, periods, colons, semicolons, quotation marks, question marks, ellipses, dashes, etc.

Capitalization

Spelling

Citations
Correct MLA formatting for citing quotations, paraphrased opinions, or facts within the text and in
the bibliography or work cited page.

Style
Style comes from the choices you make of words and sentence structure. Your style should be exact
and clear (bring out the main idea of each sentence) without being too plain or repetitive. In other
words, style may involve using a thesaurus to find synonyms for words you use regularly or crafting
varied sentence structures so that your reader does not get bored. Style also includes choices like
deciding between using rhetorical questions or statements. If you write a lot, you will eventually
develop your own distinctive writing style.

Title
The best titles are both interesting and informative. The title should give a hint of what the paper
will be about, but perhaps also provoke a question for the reader or employ a pun or play on words
that makes the reader want to see more. Writing a title can often be a good test for yourself of
whether or not you’ve figured out exactly what the main point of your paper is.

								
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