Monday, October 10, 2011

500 Word Freshman Essay

An essay must start with its thesis statement, which is expanded and supported in three body paragraphs before being restated in the conclusion.  The introduction paragraph supplies additional background support as well.  The opening section can also establish the tone and format of the document by using sentence structure, for example: sub clauses separated by commas, which will be used in the remainder of the piece.  Some extra information can be mentioned in the introduction without follow up in the body paragraphs to increase information, but mostly to attain the required word count.  The introductory section ends with a transition into, and often the opening words of, the first body paragraph.

The first body paragraph contains the opening point in support of the thesis.  It is written in short concise statements. This is to insure the information is conveyed directly. It also allows the reader to digest the information in small amounts.  This allows a quick understanding of the topic.  More subtle points are made after the initial specific one.  The final transition sentence should retain the clarity of the paragraph; however, it can shift into the style of the second body paragraph to prepare the reader for a less precise point.

The second paragraph is a good place to hide the weakest support of the thesis. Since it is not a lead in, or the final argument, it doesn’t need the impact of the other points.  It is also a good place to use filler material, such as complex sentence structures, to insure the essay meets the assigned length. Another way to reach the prerequisite length is by touching on tangential topics, which can stimulate the thinking process and allow one to both exercise the imagination and develop brainstorming skills that are transferable to other subjects.  It is also very possible to go on too long by: listing irrelevant issues, using overly complex phrasing, and repeating variations on ideas previously mentioned; until the second, least important, paragraph becomes the longest section of the entire essay body.  Abruptly stopping may be the only way to transition.

The third paragraph does not have to begin with a contradiction. However, that is an excellent way to bring the body to closure - highlighting an idea that will withstand an opposing view. By refuting your carefully chosen argument, it will be much more compelling to the reader. Having demonstrated such a strong point succinctly and convincingly, it is easy to transfer to the conclusion paragraph.

The conclusion paragraph needs to bring all topics together, and meet the length requirement.  You must mention the initial short direct point.  The second point can be alluded to without directly speaking to it, in order to protect it from detailed scrutiny upon completing the essay.  Restating the contradiction in a different way isn’t necessary, but it will emphasize what a strong point was made in the third paragraph.  The essay ends, following details and reinforcement by the three body paragraphs, with a rewording of the thesis statement.

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