Why We Write?*
We write for varying reasons according to the occasion. At times, for example, we may write for wholly personal reasons—to create, to clarify, to assess or affirm our personal points of view. At other times, we may write to convey information, to explain a problem or process, to commit ourselves publicly to an idea or to solicit the commitment of our readers. It is important to remember, however, that the following statements may, at one time or another, apply to the composing process, whatever the occasion or purpose.
Writing is a creative act.
Writing is an act of discovery.
Writing is a process of clarification.
Writing develops confidence.
Writing makes us better readers.
Writing is a process of analysis and synthesis.
Writing records the evolution of our thoughts.
Writing is an act of responsibility and commitment.
**Adapted from comments by Paul Escholz and
Alfred Rosa, The University of Vermont
WHAT IS AN ESSAY?
The essay is like a hamburger. It must be inventive, tasty, engaging, and fresh. Just like a hamburger an essay needs to have all the ingredients such as a good, lively discussion, correct grammar, and interesting word usage to excite the reader and/or taster.
Like a hamburger, it contains three parts: the introduction or the top bun, the body or “the Meat” and the conclusion or the bottom bun, the often forgotten but very important part of an essay or hamburger.
are added detail)
INTRODUCTION or top bun is the reader’s first impression.
Identified by the following:
Hook-Catches reader’s attention; the “first bite”
Transition- The bridge to the main idea; the ketchup
Thesis- The main idea or promise of the essay/ the “real beef” guarantee; 3 main points
BODY or the “meat” which is the purpose or what the essay is all about. Many readers’ ask that age old question,” Where’s the beef?” after reading many essays. So make your essay engaging with ample specific details.
Identified by the following:
Conclusion or the bottom bun is the forgotten ingredient. Many writers fail to consider the importance of the conclusion or the bottom bun. It bonds/binds the essay and without it, the essay would be a mess (image a hamburger with on bottom bun).
Identified by the following:
Clincher sentence that leaves reader wanting seconds
Creating a Thesis Statement
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is the “road map” of the essay.
For example, I am going to Stockbridge by taking highway 36 east, highway 75 north, and highway 14 west.
It guides the audience through the essay, more specifically, the body of the essay. The thesis can be identified by three important characteristics:
It is the last sentence of the introduction.
It is a single sentence.
It tells what the essay will discuss by presenting three points that make-up the “meat” of the essay.
How can I construct a thesis statement?
The thesis presents the topic. So, restate or mirror the topic and then give your answers to the topic in a complete statement.
For example, when you were in elementary school, your teacher said, “What is your name?” You replied, “My name is _________.” The formula applies to the thesis statement.
The thesis is presented in two parts. The first part restates the thesis and the second part is your answer to the topic.
Topic: What is your favorite season?
Thesis statement: (1) My favorite season is spring (2) because of the fashion, temperature, and family outings.
Assignment 1: Create thesis statements for the following.
Topic: What are the qualities of a good movie?
Thesis statement: (1)The qualities of a good movie are (2) suspense, good
directing, and an engaging plot.
Assignment 2: Create a topic sentence for all thesis points.
Point 1 One quality of a good movie is suspense.
Point 2 Another quality of a good movie is good directing.
Point 3 The quality that really makes a good movie is an engaging plot.
Assignment 3: Create an introduction.
The Almighty Movie
Last week, my cousin, Connie, asked me to see a movie with her. In the past, I had been totally disappointed with the quality of movies being produced and shoved down my throat in advertisement, but I went to as a cure for boredom. When I saw the movie Connie suggested, Bruce Almighty, I laughed and cried within that one hour. I left the movie theatre thinking that I had just seen a good movie. It had every quality that creates a good movie. The qualities of a good movie are suspense, good directing, and an engaging plot.
Topics for Practice:
What is your favorite holiday? Explain.
What advice would you give to an entering college freshman? Discuss.
Discuss what you like or do not like about the South.
What do you think are the major causes of divorce? Explain.
How does a person make a good first impression in an interview? Discuss.
Name your favorite game or sport and explain why you find it enjoyable.
What is your favorite piece of furniture? Explain.
What type of music do you prefer? Explain.
What was the best day of your life?
What do you do to cope with stress? Explain.
What are the qualities of a good student?
What was your favorite childhood toy?
What was your most memorable experience?
What are the qualities of a good parent?
When you are unhappy, what do you do that usually makes you feel better? Explain.
Model Essay- OUTLINE THE FOLLOWING ESSAY. Kristi Von Aspen, Student
Which One Are You?
Midterms! Midterms! Midterms! The mere sound of that word sends chills down most spines. Why? Well, midterms translate into tests, and tests require studying—not the most favorable extracurricular activity on a student’s agenda. But no matter what the subject may be, a person acquires certain methods of preparation over the years. I have observed these habits and concluded that there are three major types of students: the Perfectionists, the Naturalists, and the Procrastinators.
First of all, the Perfectionists are methodical people. They are always calculating and planning ahead for events in the future. One can usually find them making lists of things to do and then carefully arranging those items into well thought out time schedules. For example, if a test is to be given in two weeks and there are 140 pages of material to be covered, the Perfectionist immediately divides the days into the pages. The answer will give him the average number of pages he will need to read each night. There’s even a good chance that this person will finish in advance and move on to something else. Perfectionists are high achievers and, on the whole, earn better grades than the other two groups.
The second category of students is the carefree spirits I like to call Naturalists. These people possess a casual, happy-go-lucky kind of attitude that reflects in every aspect of their lives. For instance, when it comes to schoolwork, Naturalists study only when it is convenient for them. Their motto is, “If it gets done, it gets done.” Don’t get me wrong. Most Naturalists do have a conscience; in the back of their minds they know what they have to do, but they do their work in a nonconformist manner. They just refuse to allow academics to dominate their world.
Finally, there are the Procrastinators—the obvious choice to discuss last. Waiting until the final hour to study for that big test is one of the main traits of these people. As a result of their postponement, Procrastinators sometimes have to resort to cheating as a means of receiving an acceptable grade. Mothers of these students often have hoarse voices from constantly yelling at their children to do homework. Usually, a person of this nature never learned how to manage time and probably never will. Occasionally, some are able to break out of this rut and begin to lead normal lives.
Everyone, at one time or another, has experimented with all three of these studying methods. It is just a matter of discovering what works best for the individual and how to adapt to it. In the meantime, good luck on those midterms!!!
Model Essay-OUTLINE THE FOLLOWING ESSAY.
Problems with the Holidays
When most of us think about holidays, we have images of togetherness, happiness, and freedom from everyday cares. However, these pleasant pre-holiday thoughts can often turn into an unpleasant reality. The problems connected with holidays tend to occur in three areas—family situations, personal expectations, and finances.
Families can make holidays very trying times. First, for larger holidays such as Christmas, many families gather all the relatives in one place. Living with relatives, even temporarily, can be annoying. One discovers, for instance, that Uncle Bob spends two hours in the bathroom every morning, and Aunt Helen performs dozens of noisy jumping jacks on the wooden floors of the upstairs bedroom. Besides the problems of close confinement, family get-togethers can also result in arguments and conflicts. Old wounds are opened and new ones inflicted. Aunt Helen will have one drink too many and remind one’s father that no one in their family thought Mom was good enough for him. Mom’s simmering dislike of Aunt Helen flares up, the entire family takes sides, children start crying, and the grudges are carried long past the holiday season.
A second area of holiday trouble revolves around personal expectations. One expectation that can end in disappointment is the dream of the perfect gift. One’s boyfriend shows up on Valentine’s Day with a card, not a dozen roses; a shirt is sitting under the Christmas tree, not the stereo system one wanted. Another false expectation is that something important will happen. For instance, the hope that this Thanksgiving will finally be the one that brings family closer together vanishes as the day turns into the usual round of eating and watching football, rather than talking in an intimate way. A last false belief is that the holiday will lessen loneliness and depression. But, in fact, holidays may do just the opposite. One will probably feel especially miserable if one has no special someone, and there are couples all around one at Easter and Christmas church service.
Finances are the final area of holiday difficulty. Employees may be asked to contribute to holiday charity drives, the boss’ present, the secretary’s gift, or the maintenance people’s envelopes. Also, acting as the host for a holiday can be expensive. Having a pre-holiday party or a big family dinner on the day itself can cost well over a hundred dollars. The biggest financial pressure, though, is buying gifts for the family. One is under pressure to by the Barbie Dream House, video games, or a fancy watch. If one does not buy the present a person wants, one feels like a guilty Scrooge; if one does buy it, one lives in dread of January bills.
Whether the reasons are family situations, personal expectations, or financial considerations, holidays are often not the fulfilling experiences they are supposed to be. They can, in fact, be nerve-racking.
WRITING THE “CRUNCH” ESSAY: PREWRITING SURVIVAL SKILLS
Select a topic from the choices of possible essay topics.
Write the topic out on your prewriting sheet and circle the key words.
Write out the 1st half of the thesis statement. Hint: restate the question
THESIS STATEMENT (first half):___________________________________________
Create a jot list of ideas for the 2nd half the thesis statement. Hint: your answer
BRAINSTORM FOR THE THESIS POINTS:
Of those ideas in Step 4, choose by circling three that you know you can absolutely develop in a body paragraph.
THREE THESIS POINTS:
Finish writing your thesis statement by putting both parts of the thesis statement together (Step 3-restated question & Step 4-your answer)
THE THESIS STATEMENT________________________________________________
Create a jot list for each idea in Step #5. This is the prewriting for your body paragraphs. Make sure the list has specific examples. Do not edit your ideas; just write them. If you use each idea, that would be great, but if you do not use each idea who cares.
Body Paragraph Topic #1
Body Paragraph Topic #2
Body Paragraph Topic #3
Write out each topic sentence using key words from the topic (hint: topic sentence) and use transitions at the beginning of each topic sentence.
Topic Sentence #1_________________________________________________________
Topic Sentence #2_________________________________________________________
Topic Sentence #3_________________________________________________________
NOW, YOU MAY BEGIN WRITING.
WRITING THE ESSAY
Base 1: FORMAT OF PAPER
IS THE PAPER IN BLUE OR BLACK INK AND NO WHITE OUT OR SCRIBBLE OUT? _______
IS THE PAPER WITHIN THE MARGINS AND ARE THE LINES SKIPPED? _______
IS EACH PARAGRAPH INDENTED PROPERLY? _______
DOES THE PAPER HAVE A TITLE? _______
DOES THE PAPER EXTEND TO THE RIGHT MARGIN? _______
IS THE PAPER FREE OF WRITING ON THE BACK? _______
BASE 2: THE PARTS OF THE ESSAY _______
CAN IDENTIFY THE INTRODUCTION? _______
CAN I IDENTIFY THE 3 BODY PARAGRAPHS? _______
CAN I IDENTIFY THE CONCLUSION? _______
BASE 3: THE INTRODUCTION
CAN I IDENTIFY AN EFFECTIVE, EYE-CATCHING HOOK? _______
CAN I IDENTIFY SMOOTH, TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE(S)? _______
CAN I IDENTIFY A WELL-DEVELOPED, BALANCED THESIS? _______
IS THE THESIS THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE INTRODUCTION? _______
BASE 4: THE BODY PARAGRAPHS AND SUPPORTING DETAIL
DOES THE BODY PARAGRAPH HAVE 6-12 WELL-DEVELOPED SENTENCES? ________
CAN I DISTINGUISH THREE BODY PARAGRAPHS DEVELOPED FROM THE THESIS ________
CAN I DISTINGUISH A TOPIC SENTENCE AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH BODY
DOES THE TOPIC SENTENCE BEGIN WITH A TRANSITIONALMETHOD? ________
DOES THE TOPIC SENTENCE REITERATE WORDS FROM THE TOPIC? ________
DOES THE SUPPORTING DETAIL SUPPORT THE TOPIC SENTENCE? ________
DOES THE WRITER USE SMOOTH TRANSITIONALS WITHIN THE SUPPORTING DETAIL? ____
DOES THE BODY PARAGRAPH END WITH A SENSE OF CLOSURE WITH A SUMMARY SENTENCE? ____
BASE 5: THE CONCLUSION
DOES THE CONCLUSION RESTATE THE THESIS? _________
DOES THE CONCLUSION END WITH A SENSE OF CLOSURE WITH A WITTY STATEMENT, A PREDICTION/RECOMMENDATION, OR RHETORICAL QUESTION? _________
DOES THE CONCLUSION TIE THE PAPER TOGETHER BY REFERRING TO THE INTRODUCTION?________
BASE 6: GRAMMAR AND MECHANICS
SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT IS MAINTAINED. _________
CONSISTENT VERB TENSE IS MAINTAINED. _________
NO CONTRACTIONS, YOU, THINGS, STUFF _________
FRAGMENTS, RUN-ON SENTENCES, AND COMMA SPLICES HAVE BEEN REVISED. _________
PRONOUN REFERENCE, CASE, AND ANTECEDENT MAINTAINED _________
PUNCTUATION IS CORRECT _________
NO ABBREVIATION AND NUMBERS 1-101 ARE WRITTEN OUT _________