Writing Guide for Five Paragraph Essays. Grace-St. Luke s Episcopal School

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1 1 Writing Guide for Five Paragraph Essays Grace-St. Luke s Episcopal School

2 2 Five Paragraph Essays Every five paragraph essay has one thing in common five paragraphs. What a revelation! Even writing them is pretty formulaic. Any writer can take the following information and use it for writing a five paragraph essay on any topic. Formatting MLA format is generally used with five paragraph essays. Assume your teacher prefers MLA style formatting unless he or she tells you otherwise. Before your start writing you should format your paper the following way: 1) Heading Along the left margin, type your name, your teacher s name, the name of the class, and the date. Be especially careful with the date because it does not have any punctuation and is always formulated like this: 12 February ) Header and Page Number All MLA papers have a header with your last name and page number (starting with the first page), flush right with the margin. Every word processing program creates the header a different way. So when your teacher shows you how to get the header in your paper, listen carefully and take notes. 3) Interesting Title Every MLA paper should have a title unless your teacher prefers that you leave it out. It should be interesting. There is nothing worse than a boring title. Do not underline, boldface or otherwise differentiate your title from the other typeface. Simply center it. 4) Spacing - In an MLA paper, EVERYTHING is double spaced EVENLY!!!!! No gaping holes anywhere. Introduction The introduction is used to grab a reader s attention. So the first rule is this: 1) Begin with an attention grabber. The attention grabber you use is up to you. Here are some ideas: Startling information This information must be true and verifiable, and it doesn t need to be totally new to your reader. It could simply be a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates your point If you use startling information, elaborate a little bit with a couple more sentences. Anecdote An anecdote is a short story that illustrates your point. Your anecdote must be short and must illustrate your point. This can be an effective opener in your essay, but use it carefully. Dialogue - An appropriate dialogue does not have to identify the speakers, but the reader must understand the point you are trying to make. Use only two or three exchanges between speakers to make your point.

3 3 If you use dialogue, elaborate a little bit with a couple more sentences. Summary Information A few sentences, which explain your topic can easily lead your reader to the thesis. This is the most common but the least exciting way to open your essay. 2) Continue with a preview sentence the.thesis. A preview sentence (or thesis statement) often lists the topics which you will cover. Since you are writing a five paragraph essay, it is best to list three topics which will become your three body paragraphs. A thesis/preview statement has two parts; the first part states the topic (or your stance on a topic or point) and the second part states the point of the essay. 3) Write three topic sentences. Each topic sentence will address one of the three topics your listed in the preview sentence. Body Paragraphs In the body paragraphs, the topic you have chosen must be explained, described or argued. Each main idea that your wrote in your preview sentence will become one of the body paragraphs. Each body paragraph has the same basic structure. 1) Start by writing one of the ideas listed in your preview sentence into sentence form. 2) Next write down each of your supporting points for the main idea. When you type, leave about four or five lines between each supporting point. 3) In the space under each point, write down some explanation, examples, and quotes. 4) At the end of each body paragraph, write a summary sentence for each paragraph. Sometimes they aren t needed. It is better to let a paragraph speak for itself, rather than writing a redundant last summary sentence. Make sure each body paragraph has at least five-six sentences. You can use more. (In eighth grade the requirement will be for EIGHT sentences, so you might as well get used to it. Yes eight sentences.) The biggest problem that writers your age encounter is the ability to maintain focus. In order to facilitate this, you should try to make the main idea of your paragraph the subject of most of the sentences in your body paragraphs. Conclusion The conclusion brings closure to the reader, summing up your points or providing a final perspective on your topic. All the conclusion needs is three or four strong sentences. which do

4 4 not follow any specific formula. Review your preview/thesis statement but be careful not to restate them exactly. Any of the strategies for writing an introduction can be used for writing a conclusion. The difference is that a conclusion is shorter. The biggest NO-NO is bringing new information into your conclusion. Avoid it like the plague. Your Style as a Writer ***************************************************** Maintaining some style when your write is important. One of the aspects of creating a wonderful essay is keeping your voice alive. As a reader, I want to hear you (and not the boring you) speak to me. One of the things we will look for is creativity and personal style. Don t go too crazy with your creativity though. You have to remember that you are writing an official five paragraph essay for an official teacher in an official class at an official school. Mechanics Mechanics refers to the grammar and construction of your essay. The WORST mechanical errors include: 1) Sentence Fragments These are sentences that do not have a complete thought. 2) Comma Splices This is any misuse of a comma. Putting a comma where it is not needed and not using a comma where one is needed are comma splices. 3) Run-on Sentences These are two sentences that should be separated by punctuation (a comma and conjunction OR a semicolon). 4) Subject/Verb Agreement These major errors are not the only mechanical errors you can make. Spelling and awkward sentences are both mechanical errors. Pronoun/antecedent agreement is also a common error. Final Touches Have another person (preferably a peer someone with the same level of knowledge as you) read your essay and fill out a peer editing sheet for you. After you correct what your peers have found, correct your essay and print out a clean copy. Finally read your essay out loud with a pen in hand, marking any mistakes or awkward sentences. You catch SO MUCH by reading something out loud. It s word the effort! Tips For Writing a Five Paragraph Essay About Literature Always write in the third person. That means don t use YOU or I, ME, WE, or US in the essay. Always write in the present tense, even when recalling a scene or discussion that happened in the past.

5 5 Avoid the passive voice as much as possible. Use important quotes where applicable. A Personal Topic A personal essay gives you, the writer, a bit more flexibility than a literature essay. If your teacher gives you permission, you may use first person (I, ME, WE, and US). Generally, you may be more creative in a personal essay than in a literature essay. Compare and Contrast All compare and contrast essays have FOUR paragraphs, not five. After your introduction, the first body paragraph should be about the similarities. The second paragraph should be about the differences. DO NOT MIX THE TWO!! Depending on your teacher s preference, you may organize your essay a different way, but always ask before changing up this pretty formulaic essay. ************************************************** Ready to Turn in a Paper? Here s the checklist! All drafts leading up to your final copy must be included with the final draft on top. Final Draft Copy you read aloud to yourself Peer edit sheet Original Rough Draft Original Essay Handout with Questions, Expectations, and Outline Paperclip (DON T STAPLE or DOGEAR) all copies together. If it s late If your rough draft is late and you miss a peer editing session, it is YOUR responsibility to find at least 3 (three) peers to edit your paper. A peer is generally someone who is your age plus or minus three years. Generally, anyone from Moms, dads, high school seniors, or college professors do not qualify as peers. Your HW grade will drop due to the tardiness of this work. If you fail to turn in your final draft on time, your grade will drop 10pts per day. You are required to turn in a final draft no matter how late your paper is. Even if you are 10 days late, I still expect to see a paper from you.

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