Writing the Essay
BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
TOPIC SENTENCES
THE INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH
What is it’s purpose?
To prepare the reader for what is
to follow and arouse the
reader’s interest in the topic.
Functions of an Effective
Introduction
1. Appeals to a specific audience.
2. Employs an interest device.
-- appeals to the audience's sense of
authority (what they know)
-- appeals to the audience's sense of value
(what they feel)
3. Sets the tone or mood for the paper.
4. Focuses to a thesis (a one-sentence
summary of the paper that follows)
Ways to Introduce your Topic
1.
The
Thesis Statement
Alone.
(Take notes now.)
The Thesis Statement Alone
Against seemingly insurmountable odds,
humans have shown an amazing will to
survive. Three incredible people are
evidence — one the victim of a head-on crash
with a semi trailer, the second the survivor of
a brain tumor and the third the prey of a form
of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. (from the essay
“Human Will to Survive” by Jerry W.)
Ways to Introduce your Topic
 2.
Personal Comment
or
Anecdote
(Take notes now.)
Personal Comment or Anecdote
Fast Eddie Riley did not just march to a
different tune; he polkaed. I first met him in
university residence. Bright but socially
inept, friendly but friendless, and the
unfortunate butt of jokes and pranks, I can
remember clearly how much outside the
norm he lived. [Followed by thesis
statement.] (from the essay “Individuals Who
are Outsiders” by Pieter L.)
Ways to Introduce your Topic
3.
Questions
(Take notes now.)
Questions
Why would anyone ever want to wear a school
uniform? What are the possible benefits of
such a hair-brained scheme? Has such a plan
ever been successful anywhere but some
fancy-schmancy private school? My initial
thoughts were for no good reason, very few
and probably not.
Ways to Introduce your Topic
4.
Opposite
View
(Take notes now.)
Opposite View
Everyone knows that capital punishment, the
death penalty, has been widely successful
throughout the world. It has been performed by
the most humane possible methods, it has
deterred criminals from committing serious
offences, and it is being adopted by more and
more countries around the globe. Unfortunately,
this is not the case. On the contrary, killing
people for killing people doesn’t work. (from the
essay “Capital Punishment: The Grave Reality by
Janet S.)
Ways to Introduce your Topic
5.
Quotation
(Take notes now.)
Quotation
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are
going to do.” When Henry Ford, famous auto
maker, made this statement, he backed it
with performance. To build a reputation or to
create anything substantial, the builder needs
to begin with a dream, he has to set goals,
and it helps if he has an ideal, a model, to
imitate. Terry Fox is just such a builder. (from
the essay “The Influence of Dreams, Goals, and
Ideals” by Robbie M.)
Things to remember about
using the Quotation:
 It is important to choose a quote that is the
right length.
 Think of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” —
a short quote needs to be explained or
elaborated, a medium-length quote may be
just right, but a long one is likely to be just
that — too long.
Ways to Introduce your Topic
6.
The
Startling
Statement
(Take Notes Now.)
The Startling Statement
Golf is gaining popularity faster than any summer
sport! Thanks to superstars like Tiger Woods
giving personal lessons to kids right here in our
town, and thanks to millions of dollars in golf
scholarships being given out in our own school,
and even bigger thanks to the fact that new
studies show that golfers, on average, live
twenty years longer than other athletes. Well,
perhaps these are exaggerated statements, but
golf is a great sport. The stars of the sport, the
possibilities for a great career, and the physical
benefits help make golf a big hit. (from the essay
“Golf” by Robert R.)
Remember to make your statement
not only startling, but
relevant.
''Tonight more people will watch a typical
situation comedy on TV than have seen all of
the stage performances of all of
Shakespeare's plays in the last 400 years.''
(This happens to be a true statement.)
''When I was 14 years old I fell in love with a
woman 37 feet tall.'' This statement would be
a novel way to start a talk about a 37-foot
statue in one's hometown.
Ways to Introduce your Topic
7.
The
Mix
(Take notes now.)
The Mix
Curfews. When all else fails, adults revert to
rules. The rules don’t have to make sense.
They don’t have to be easy to enforce. They
just have to sound simple. Once again,
adolescents are faced with the threat from
the “Ready, Shoot, Aim” school of thought.
What’s the real problem? How did we get
here? Where should we really be looking for
answers?
The Introductory Paragraph. . .
 Should be the most enjoyable part of your
essay.
 Is your chance to promote your product, to
say, “Pick me; pick me!”
 With each of the techniques, other than the
Thesis Statement Alone, you need to add a
thesis statement to the introductory
paragraph.
Introductory
Paragraphs Exercise
Topic Sentences:
Placed first.
A hedgehog’s quills are its most obvious, most
interesting feature. The quills, actually stiff,
hollow hairs, have no points, are not barbed, and
unlike porcupine quills, are not easily removed
from a hedgehog’s body. The quills can be both a
defensive and an offensive mechanism. When
attacked, a hedgehog will roll into a protective
ball. On some occasions, a hedgehog will attack
a predator and throw itself against the attacker.
In both cases, the point is made.
Topic Sentences:
Placed second.
To begin with, everybody has one; why shouldn’t I?
Yes, having a credit card opens a new, exciting
life. My little piece of plastic is the key to instant
happiness; I never have to wait to get that new
top, the latest CD, a snack when I’m hungry, or a
treat for my friends. It’s way safer than carrying
cash and handy to slip into my jeans. Am I awed
by its power? Do you think I don’t know there’s a
monthly statement? Hey man, give me a little
credit!
Topic Sentences:
Placed last.
She lives in a $1.3 million home on Marrowstone Island,
Washington. That’s not too expensive if your earnings
have topped $50 million. And earnings like that make
sense if your books have sold over 70 million copies and
have been translated into 37 languages. Add blockbuster
movies to the list, add being named Author of the Year
for 2008, and then throw in being listed #49 on Time
Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People. Yes,
Stephanie Meyers is a success story.
The Concluding Paragraph
What’s its purpose?
The purpose of the final paragraph is to bring the
essay to a smooth conclusion. Similar to the last
page in a children’s book, or at the end of an old
movie, it is a way of saying
The End
How do I end it all?
1.
Restate the
Main Points
(Take notes now.)
Restating the Main Ideas
So before heading out to enjoy the great sport
of scuba diving, remember to get the proper
clothing and gear, and to follow the list of
“Do’s and Don’ts.” Somewhere nearby there
is an underwater adventure just waiting to be
enjoyed. (from the essay “Scuba Diving” by
Tibor S.)
How do I end it all?
2.
The Future
Or
Suggestions for Action
(Take notes now.)
The Future/Suggestions for
Action
The NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) idea could be
much more than an idea in your life. We are
all going to die. How we die is open for
discussion. Now that you know about a living
will and a personal directive, and you have
heard the true life and death stories of
two real people, what choices do you have to
make? (from the essay “Euthanasia” by
Gurpreet K.)
How do I end it all?
3.
Questions
Questions
In conclusion, it should be obvious that why we
take risks, who is responsible for the results,
and when it is reasonable to put our lives on
the line is a very personal set of questions.
The most important question of all remains:
In that split second when a major decision is
required, will you have the foresight and the
will power to do what you know is the right
thing to do? (from the essay “Risk Taking” by
Andrew S.)
How do I end it all?
4.
Personal Comment
Or
Anecdote
(Take notes now.)
Personal Comment or Anecdote
As we saw at the outset, Jane Doe had a big
decision one that affected her life, her
baby’s life and the lives of countless others
around her. In this case, Jane kept the baby. It
has been a story of triumph, of tears, of hopes,
of sacrifice, of loneliness, of joy, and it will
continue to be a life of wondering. Did I make
the right decision? (from the essay “Abortion”
by Jillian K.
How do I end it all?
5.
Cyclic Return
(Take notes now.)
Cyclic Return
So where does that leave us? It seems to
take us back to where we started like
someone lost in the woods returning to
the original campsite. We still have the
same questions, we still have the same
barriers, and we still have the same dress
code. Will it ever change? My money say
it won’t. Hey, there goes an airborne sow!
(from the essay “School Dress Code” by
Jeremy J.)
STRATEGIES TO AVOID
 Avoid introducing new ideas or facts that
belong in the body of the essay
 Avoid merely rewording the introduction
 Avoid announcing what you have done, as in,
“In this paper, I have successfully explained
why women are seen as sexual objects in
today’s society.”
 Avoid apologizing, as in, “Even though I am
not an expert…”
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BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS