Hamblin’s Tips for Outstanding Essays Introduction Paragraph Attention Getter (AG)

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Hamblin’s Tips for Outstanding Essays
Introduction Paragraph

Attention Getter (AG) (sparks interest: interesting quote, exclamation, or question)

Thesis Statement (TH) (the point or main argument of your essay + author & title)

Organizational Sentence (OS) (in one or more sentences, state the ideas you will use to prove thesis)

Clincher (CL) (restate all essay map ideas as a group and relate to thesis)
All Body Paragraphs

Topic Sentence (TS) (starting with a (SBD), state the first idea you’ll use to prove the thesis)

1st Example (A1-) (give a specific example OR a quote OR a paraphrase as an example) ALL sentences used to talk about the first example are labeled (A1, A2, A3, etc.). Your first example sentence MUST contain at least ONE cited quote labeled Q1.

Set Context (ALWAYS introduce examples, quotes, or paraphrases; explain in your own words what is happening or where in the text you pull the example you will use)

Explain/Discuss (now explain this example for as long as it takes to explore fully its significance)

Transition (TR) (Use a transition word to start your B1-(also, as well, not only/but also, again, once again, further, furthermore, likewise, in addition to, additionally, moreover)

2nd Example (B1-)…..(give a specific example OR a quote OR a paraphrase as an example) ALL sentences used to talk about the first example are labeled (B1, B2, B3, etc.). Your second example MUST contain at least ONE cited quote labeled Q2.

Explain/Discuss (now explain this example for as long as it takes to explore fully its significance)

Clincher (CL) (Begin with (SBD); make your body paragraph relevant by tying your main idea of this paragraph to your thesis)

Conclusion Paragraph

Thesis Restatement (TH) starts with a (SBD) (but NOT in the same words you have used before)

Organizational Sentence Restatement (OS) (but NOT in the same words you have used before)

Clincher (CL) (make a conclusory statement; possibly give a new insight that has come from the process of the paper; definitely give a sense of finality as you connect one last time to the thesis)

General Tips:

  • You must have TWO quotes per body paragraph

  • Your sentences MUST be labeled.

  • Smooth Beginning Devices include: introductory prepositional phrases (e.g. Throughout the novel,); introductory infinitive phrases (e.g. To murder Grendel,); introductory participial phrases (e.g. Running for his life, or Doomed to die,); introductory adverb clauses (e.g. Since Beowulf cannot conquer his pride,); introductory adverbs (e.g. Consequently,)

  • You MUST introduce EVERY quote you use!

  • Every quote MUST have a page number in parenthesis following it (e.g. “Mrs. Hamblin said so” (Hamblin 21).)

Academic Writing: The Essay
Hamblin’s Cheat-Sheet

Rationale: Throughout your high school and college career, you will be required to write numerous essays and research papers.  The quicker you learn how to write academically, the easier your time in high school and college will become.

Academic Voice:  Most academic papers should be written in academic voice.  Academic voice tends to suppress the natural voice of the author in an effort to focus the reader on the material instead of the author's persona.  Therefore, you write academic papers in third person.  If you write in first person (I, we, etc.), the reader tends to focus on the author.  If you write in second person (you), the reader tends to focus on her/himself.  I wrote this in second person because I am addressing you – telling you to do something.  You want your reader to focus on the material about which you are writing; therefore, your paper must be written in third person (him, her, they, etc.).  Other general rules for academic writing include:

  1. Avoid weak language (maybe, possibly, might); act like you know what you’re saying.

  2. Avoid contractions (can't, won't, etc.) and slang.

  3. When writing about literature, use present tense.

  4. State your opinion as fact.

  5. Avoid rhetorical questions.

  6. Never start a paper with, "This paper is going to be about…"  

Principles of the Essay:
The Thesis:  The thesis is the central idea of the essay.  If you were to ask yourself, "What is the main point of this paper?" or "What am I writing about?" your answer should resemble your thesis statement.

The Focus:  An important feature of a good essay is that it is focused.  You might want to ask yourself, "What specifically do I want to prove in this essay?"  You do not want your thesis statement to be too general.  For example:

  • Too general: "Mark Twain uses symbolism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to create meaning."

  • Revised:  "Twain utilizes salient symbols such as the Mississippi River and the raft to represent the ideals of absolute freedom and its limitations in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Coherence:  Your paper should be concrete; that is, you support your thesis with facts and examples from the novel.  Using the example above, you should strengthen your analysis with details and quotes from the novel supporting your contention.  Huck states, "Other places do seem so clamped up and smothery, but a raft don't.  You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft" (88).  Note the citation.

Organization:  The best method of organization is outlining.  You will find that your paper is much easier to write if you use an outline as your guide.  Your paper should contain:

  1. Introductory paragraph including thesis statement;

  2. Body paragraphs supporting and explaining your thesis statement;

  3. Concluding paragraph restating your thesis and explaining the significance of your essay

In other words, in the first part of your paper you state what you are going to say, in the second you state it, and in the third you restate what you just stated.   Whether it is a simple essay, major research paper or a doctoral dissertation, most academic writing projects follow this model, so you should learn it now.  Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence containing the point(s) the paragraph reveals.   Your body paragraphs should be organized so that you make your most important point in your final body paragraph and your least significant point in your middle paragraph(s).  Each paragraph should go from one example or fact to another, explaining how they are related.  The paragraphs should be linked with transition words/phrases.
Vocabulary:  You should use a sophisticated vocabulary directed to an academic audience. Be careful not to "over-Thesaurize" your paper. 

Mechanics:  Your paper must be mechanically sound.  Use spell check!  Some great papers can be marred by grammatical and spelling errors.  They can hinder the meaning of the paper.  Have someone proofread your paper, and then edit it.  Once you master mechanics, then you can focus on refining the ideas you are expressing in the paper.

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