Reviewing Essay Format

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1 Reviewing Essay Format While the thought of writing an essay can be stressful, writing an essay is rather easy if you remember that there is a basic format involved that should be followed. Once you have mastered the format, you can broaden your horizons and develop your own writing style. All essays have 3 main parts: i) an introduction, ii) body paragraphs (as determined by the breadth and depth of your topic, and length of your paper), and iii) a conclusion. The Introduction: the introduction should grab the reader's attention, introduce the subject of the paper, set up the issues you will address, and lead in to your thesis. Your intro is merely a presentation of the topic, a statement of facts and arguments, and the first stage to present your overall purpose for writing. Most importantly, it provides readers with a map (outline) to the overall paper and signposts of how the writer will arrive at the final destination presented in the thesis. The introduction is quite possibly the most important part of an essay, but it can also be the hardest to generate for some writers. General format for an Introduction: A hook general statement to introduce the topic More specific statement that relates to the hook and moves into a more specific way to address it or elaborate it Harnessing Sentence which must make reference to the author(s) and text(s) and tie directly into the hook there must be a relationship or connection Arguments one argument for each main idea you plan on writing about in the body of your essay. The number of arguments is always left to your discretion, and should be determined by the length of your paper, level of the texts, and the scope of your thesis Thesis statement the thesis statement contains the focus of your essay and tells your reader what the essay is going to be about. It outlines the scope of your paper: an umbrella statement that covers everything that will be presented in the essay The hook: An essay s hook is usually the first sentence or two in the first paragraph. It draws the reader in and makers her/him want to continue to read. The hook s tone should match that of your essay (serious, humorous, academic), and it should support your central argument or main point. While it is general in nature, make sure the hook is specific to your essay. If your hook is a general statement that could lead into countless essays, rewrite your hook to pertain to your exact topic. In addition, avoid common proverbs, quotations or clichés since these will not draw in your reader. Efpatridis ENG 4U1

2 Common formats for a hook: a fact or statistic linked to your topic a surprising piece of information an interesting quotation an appeal to emotions an intriguing paradox a dilemma or conflict an explanation of a term (definition) a short anecdote (not fiction) a provocative question The first goal in your introduction is to grab the reader's attention through the hook, and generate some interest about the topic. Since many people will put down an essay after a boring introduction, a wellwritten hook often determines whether or not an essay is effective. Then follow with more specific information or background information that will lead into your arguments. Present your Arguments An argument is a fact, idea, objective opinion or reason that can be proven with evidence and details. Each argument becomes the foundation for the body paragraphs in the essay. Each argument should be stated on its own in a sentence. Lay out your main points and arguments, preferably in the order in which you are going to discuss them. An argument presents a view on the topic. Thus, it can be countered; meaning that the writer has to completely convince the reader of his/her position with sufficient proof of his/her own ideas and specific textual evidence. Present your Thesis The entire introduction should lead toward the presentation of your final assertion, or thesis, whereby you take a stand on the issue you are presenting. Writers usually deliver the thesis at the end of the introduction so that your reader knows what general position he/she will take in the essay. It is narrow, focused, and specific. A thesis can be something you are arguing for or it can be something you are arguing against. Do not spell out the steps or separate ideas that you will use to prove your thesis! And never state, "I will discuss..." or "I intend to argue... or this essay will prove... The information in the introduction always moves from general to specific. While there is no rule for exactly how long an introduction should be, consider the length of your overall paper when writing your introduction. An appropriate length for a five-page essay is about half a page, but if you are writing a 40- page paper, your introduction will span several pages and multiple paragraphs.

3 SAMPLE INTRODUCTION Maya Angelou states, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. Literary texts are a powerful medium with memorable messages. When individuals first select a text to read, they may not realize the significant impact it can have on their lives. Shakespeare leaves a lasting impression on his readers through the characters and conflicts that he depicts in The Merchant of Venice. Shylock, a loan lending Jew, is treated with extreme contempt in his society. Jessica, Shylock s daughter, flees with her Christian lover to avoid the wrath of her father. Finally, Portia and Nerissa must assume the role of men in an attempt to overturn the conditions of a bond. Possible Thesis Statements: a) Shakespeare effectively depicts the deplorable conditions of the 16 th century. b) Shakespeare exemplifies the injustice, social conditions, and stereotypes typical during the author s lifetime. c) Shakespeare illustrates that although injustice was common in the 16 th century, individuals can triumph over difficult challenges. d) Shakespeare conveys the powerful statement that injustice can be overcome when individuals triumph over challenges. Efpatridis ENG4U1 = Writing Tips

4 Writing Thesis Statements How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class, turn the request into a question: Q: What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class? A: The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are... A: Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve... After you compose a couple of sentences to answer the question, one could possibly be your thesis. How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned Even if your assignment doesn t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you d like to write about. A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes: take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree: so what? deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment express one main idea assert your conclusions about a subject Efpatridis 2013 ENG4U1 = Writing Tips

5 How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One 1.A strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand. Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. Ex. There are some negative and positive traits in the character Iago. This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive is vague. Ex. Iago is very evil and deceitful because he manipulates characters and capitalizes on their vulnerabilities. This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific. 2.A strong thesis statement justifies discussion. Thesis statements do not state a basic observation. And a thesis statement might be contradicted by someone else with another opinion and proper evidence: it is often debatable and worth argument. Ex. I live in a blended family. Ex. Living in a blended family can make an individual more resilient and teach him/her about compromise. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. 3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea. Do not write a three prong thesis. Instead, make the separate ideas you plan on proving the basis of your arguments. Ex. The good intentions of Friar Laurence, Lord Capulet and Romeo led to the tragic death of Juliet. Ex. Friar Laurence unites Romeo and Juliet with the hope of ending the family feud. Whereas Lord Capulet makes arrangements for Juliet to wed Paris to end her grief over the loss of Tybalt. Finally, Romeo pursues Juliet because he falls in love with her. However, the good intentions of several male characters have a negative and tragic impact on young Juliet. This is a strong thesis because it shows that the three arguments are related. Hint: many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because, since, so, although, unless, and however. Efpatridis 2013 ENG4U1 = Writing Tips

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