Elements of an Essay

Document Sample
Elements of an Essay Powered By Docstoc
					Elements of an Essay
  Part I: The Thesis Statement
     Part II: Nuts and Bolts
       Part I:
The Thesis Statement
  Effective composition of your
           A Thesis Statement…
   tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of
    the subject matter under discussion.
   is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the
    reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
   directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is
    an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject
    itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World
    War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to
    understand the war or the novel.
   makes a claim that others might dispute.
   is usually a single sentence somewhere in your first
    paragraph that presents your argument to the reader.
    The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and
    organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the
    logic of your interpretation.
  Writing Your Thesis Statement
1.Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
    An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component
        parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and
        evaluation to the audience.
    An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
    An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this
        claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy
        proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an
        interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the
        audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
    If you are writing a text which does not fall under these three categories
        (ex. a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph
        could still be helpful to your reader.
2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what
   you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific
3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first
   paragraph of a paper.
4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your
   thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the
      How Strong is Your Thesis?
1.   Do I answer the question?
        Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a
        working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses
        the focus of the question.
2.   Have I taken a position that others might challenge or
        If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or
        even could, disagree with, it's possible that you are
        simply providing a summary, rather than making an
3.   Is my thesis statement specific enough?
        Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have
        a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like
        "good" or "successful," see if you could be more
        specific: why is something "good"; what specifically
        makes something "successful"?
   How Strong Is Your Thesis?
4. Does my thesis pass the "So what?" test?
      If a reader's first response is, "So what?" then you need to
      clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
5. Does my essay support my thesis specifically and
    without wandering?
      If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go
      together, one of them has to change. It's o.k. to change your
      working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the
      course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and
      revise your writing as necessary.
6. Does my thesis pass the "how and why?" test?
      If a reader's first response is "how?" or "why?" your thesis may
      be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what
      you can add to give the reader a better take on your position
      right from the beginning.
Sample Thesis Statements
       Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is a
        great American novel.

       In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
        develops a contrast between life on
        the river and life on the shore.

       Through its contrasting river and shore
        scenes, Twain's Huckleberry Finn
        suggests that to find the true
        expression of American democratic
        ideals, one must leave "civilized"
        society and go back to nature.
    Thesis Statement Activity
 Take a sheet of paper from the desk.
 On side 1: Write your Novell Username
 On side 2: Write the thesis statement you
  used in the Diagnostic Essay on the
        Thesis Statement Activity
Answer the question for this round, offer a suggestion for
      how the author might satisfy this question.
If it already answers the question, explain how it does so.

Round Question
   1.   Does it answer the question?
        Thesis Statement Activity
Answer the question for this round, offer a suggestion for
      how the author might satisfy this question.
If it already answers the question, explain how it does so.

Round Question
   2.   Does it take a position that others might be
        able to challenge?
        Thesis Statement Activity
Answer the question for this round, offer a suggestion for
      how the author might satisfy this question.
If it already answers the question, explain how it does so.

Round Question
   3.   Is it specific enough?
        Thesis Statement Activity
Answer the question for this round, offer a suggestion for
      how the author might satisfy this question.
If it already answers the question, explain how it does so.

Round Question
   4.   Does it pass the ―So What?‖ Test?
        Thesis Statement Activity
Answer the question for this round, offer a suggestion for
      how the author might satisfy this question.
If it already answers the question, explain how it does so.

Round Question
   5.   Does it explain how and why?
 Retrieve  your paper .
 Using the suggested revisions, rewrite
  your thesis statement tonight.
 Staple the suggestions and your revised
  thesis to the diagnostic (with questions).
     Essay
     Purpose Questions
     Audience Questions
     Thesis Revision (crumpled paper)
    Part II:
 Nuts and Bolts
AKA- Pieces of Your Paper
          Basic Organization: Outline
Sample Outline:                            (Translated)
   I.   Introduction                       I.   This Is What I’m Going to
           a.   Background                      Say
           b.   Thesis Statement                  a.      What it is
           c.   Transition                        b.      My Point
   II.      Body Paragraphs                       c.      On to the main event
           a)   Separate topics drawn      II.         This Is Me Saying It, and
                from thesis statement                  Making you Believe it
           b)   Effective transitions             a.      Part 1 (2, 3) of My Point
                between body paragraphs
                                                  b.      On to the next reason I’m right.
   III.     Conclusion                     III.        This Is What We Now
           a.   Transition to conclusion
           b.   Summary of what has
                                                  a.      This is what I’ve said.
                been discussed
                                                  b.      This is why I said it.
           c.   Final statement
                                                  c.      This is what we’ve discovered.
   Begin with information relevant to the topic.
       Examples: general background of subject (event,
        person, place); short (one or two sentence summary)
        of a work of literature; relevant quote (use sparingly,
        try to quote work being discussed); definition
        (especially effective for argumentation papers)
 Thesis Statement: see Part I
 Transition to next paragraph
       Do not assume that your thesis statement is
        automatically your transition.
       Give reader some idea as to what will be discussed
                  Body Paragraphs:
   What is a Paragraph?
       "a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms
        a unit― of harmonious and coherent ideas between its
       Usually focused on one specific aspect of the thesis
       Every paragraph in a paper should be
         • Unified - The sentences should all refer to the main idea, or
           thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119).
         • Coherent-The sentences should be arranged in a logical
           manner and should follow a definite plan for development
           (Rosen and Behrens 119).
         • Well-Developed - Every idea discussed in the paragraph
           should be adequately explained and supported through
           evidence and details that work together to explain the paper's
           controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).
                  Body Paragraphs:
                 Two Important Parts
1.   Topic Sentences –
     •   A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main idea of
         a paragraph. It tells the reader what to expect about the
         information that will follow. Without the use of a topic sentence,
         developing a paragraph can be extremely difficult. Topic
         sentences can appear at several points in a paragraph.
2.   Transitions –
     •   Transitions come in the form of single words, phrases,
         sentences, and even whole paragraphs. They help to establish
         relationships between ideas in a paragraph and to create a
         logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. Without
         transitions, your paragraph will not be unified, coherent, or well
                    Body Paragraphs:
                      Step By Step
1.   Controlling idea
     •   the expression of the main idea, topic, or focus of the paragraph
         in a sentence or a collection of sentences.
2.   Explanation of controlling idea
     •   the writer's rationale into his/her thinking about the main topic,
         idea, or focus of the paragraph
3.   Example
     •   the example serves as a sign or representation of the
         relationship established in the idea and explanation portions of
         the paragraph
4.   Explanation (of example)
     •   the reasoning behind why you chose to use this/or these
         particular examples as evidence to support the major claim, or
         focus, in your paragraph.
5.   Completion of Paragraph's idea or transition into
     next paragraph
     •   a review for your reader about the relevance of the information
         that you just discussed in the paragraph, or a transition or
         preparation for your reader for the paragraph that follows.
 Your conclusion is your chance to have the last
  word on the subject.
 Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of
  the assignment.
       The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the
        prompt and allows you to consider broader issues,
        make new connections, and elaborate on the
        significance of your findings.
   Your conclusion should make your readers glad
    they read your paper.
           Conclusions: Strategies
   Play the "So What" Game.
       If you're stuck and feel like your conclusion isn't saying anything
        new or interesting, read each statement and ask ―so what‖ or
        ―why should anybody care?‖ in much the same fashion as you
        might for a thesis statement. Use your answers to strengthen
        your conclusion.
   Return to the theme or themes in the introduction.
   Include a provocative insight or quotation from the
    research or reading you did for your paper.
   Synthesize, don't summarize:
       Include a brief summary of the paper's main points, but don't
        simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your
        reader how the points you made and the support and examples
        you used fit together.
   Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or
    questions for further study.
   Point to broader implications of your topic.

Shared By: