This is to help clarify our two essay assignments



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Exemplification Essay Organization and Essay Assignments Overview





This is to help clarify our two essay assignments.

The two 5-paragraph essays that we will write this semester will each have an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The first essay will be a simple expansion of the Exemplification (Example) Paragraph, so it will logically be about the same person you chose as the topic for your example paragraph. The second essay will be a basic Justification Argument, entitled, “I am in College for Three Reasons.”

The main purpose of this handout is to explain how to write an example essay. The sample essay is about a film, while your essay is about a person, but the basic purpose of the writing will be the very same: to give an example or an illustration of something. Consider the following two thesis statements:

“My Dad was a classic example of a Depression-era child, because he didn’t throw many things away, because he took very good care of the things that he had, and because he never missed a day of work.”

"The Princess Bride is a classic example of a movie that has something for everyone, because it has great combat scenes, mythical beasts, and true love."

The first thesis statement makes use of “signpost language,” by repeating “because” with every main idea, while the second thesis statement does not. Either way is fine, but many students like to repeat the “because” for clarity.

Your first stage of writing should be a good pre-writing session, which is discussed in Chapter 2. Prewriting activities will be different for every person. This might be a bubble diagram, a list of ideas, or simply a list of random words that bring back memories to you. The point is to get many more ideas than you’ll actually need, so that you can pick and choose the best ones, either because they’ll be easiest and most appropriate to share in a school essay, because they are the most classic examples of the person’s characteristics as part of the category (such as good cooks, loyal friends, dependable co-workers, etc.), or because they mean the most to you. As long as your pre-writing activities help you come up with what you're going to say about the topic, there really isn't any way to get it wrong.

The thesis statement will be the controlling sentence for your essay. It should establish the topic and your attitude about the topic, as well as the organization you will use to discuss this topic in your essay. For example, if writing the essay about The Princess Bride, with the thesis statement: "The Princess Bride is an example of a movie that has something for everyone, because it has great combat scenes, mythical beasts, and true love," the topic of the essay is the movie. The author’s opinion is that it has something for everyone. The first body paragraph would discuss the great swordfight scenes in that film; the second body paragraph would cover the weird and mythical beasts, and the third body paragraph would discuss the theme of "true love" which runs throughout the movie.

After you do the pre-writing and your thesis sentence, the next step is to write the rough draft. Begin this by writing the topic sentences for your three body paragraphs. They must be crafted carefully. Each of three body paragraphs deals with one of the three main ideas in your essay. The topic sentence for each body paragraph gives the topic of that paragraph and forecasts the main support details that you will write about in the paragraph. You need at least three main support details in each paragraph. In the case of the Princess Bride essay, if the topic sentence for the first body paragraph is about combat scenes, then the main support details might include the initial swordfighting scene between The Man in Black and Inigo Montoya, the wrestling battle between The Man in Black and Fezzig the Giant, and the climactic swordfighting scene between Inigo Montoya and The Six-Fingered Man. This sentence clearly forecasts everything that the paragraph will cover. You aren't limited to just three supports, but you do need at least three. As you can see, before you sit down to write the topic sentence for each one of the three body paragraphs, you need to know which supporting details you will bring out in each paragraph; this shows the value of all of that pre-writing you did!

It will help immensely if you make an outline of your essay before you begin to write it. This sounds intimidating, but it is really nothing more than the following:

I. Thesis Statement (this can also serve as the topic sentence for the introductory paragraph.)

II. Topic Sentence for First Body Paragraph

A. First Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph

C. Third Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph

III. Topic Sentence for Second Body Paragraph

A. First Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph

C. Third Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph

IV. Topic Sentence for Third Body Paragraph

A. First Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph

C. Third Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph

V. Topic Sentence for Conclusion Paragraph

For the fifth essay step, you will simply take the framework of the fourteen-sentence outline and fill in what's missing, to create the rough draft of your essay. Each paragraph should have a job to do. The introductory paragraph introduces the topic and prepares the reader to receive what you'll say. The body paragraphs are the meat of your essay, where you deliver the meat of your message. The concluding paragraph reminds the reader of what you've said (in different words than you used originally!) to wrap things up. I will give you feedback on your rough draft.

The sixth and final step is to make any needed revisions in the rough draft, to write your final draft. By this time, you should only need minor changes, if you need any at all.

I hope that you enjoy the essay assignments; I look forward to reading your work!

On the next page is a sample of what the complete structure of an example essay might look like, with a few illustrations, for clarity.

Sample Outline of Example Essay, with Illustrations

(One or two Attention Getter Sentences)

I. Thesis Statement (this can also serve as the topic sentence for the introductory paragraph.) (Example: “My Dad was a classic example of a Depression-era child, because he didn’t throw many things away, because he took very good care of the things that he had, and because he never missed a day of work.”)

II. Topic Sentence for First Body Paragraph (Sentence about how Dad couldn’t bring himself to throw away things, food, or money.)

A. First Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph (Sentence about how Dad couldn’t bring himself to throw away things).

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about all of the old shoes and tools in the garage)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about all of the spare car parts, organized by type, in bins on shelves in the garage)

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph (Sentence about how he couldn’t throw away food)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about lots of canned food in the garage)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about how he always ate all the food on his plate, and insisted that all of the children did, as well)

C. Third Main Idea Sentence for First Body Paragraph (Sentence about how Dad couldn’t stand to throw away money by wasting it)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he loved to shop at the Flea Market, to get good deals)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he never borrowed money, but saved up for things, because he hated to pay interest)



III. Topic Sentence for Second Body Paragraph (Dad was careful of his things, and took good care of his shoes, his home, and his car.)

  1. First Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph (Sentence about his taking good care of his shoes)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about his taking out all of his shoes to polish them)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about his choosing to wear certain shoes during rainstorms, so as not to damage his “good” shoes)

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph (Sentence about his taking care of his home)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about how he cleaned the heater himself every year, saving the cost of having a technician come to do it)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about how he painted the house himself, to save money)


  1. Third Main Idea Sentence for Second Body Paragraph (Sentence about his taking good care of his car)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he always changed the oil himself, to save money)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he called himself “a shade tree mechanic” as he performed major repairs on our cars from time to time, sometimes working for days, to save taking the car to a shop and paying someone else to do it.) (This is a good example of a spot where you might have more than just two support sentences; you are never limited to only two, but you should have at least two.)



IV. Topic Sentence for Third Body Paragraph (Sentence about how Dad never missed a day of work, not even when he was pretty sick, unless he was having surgery, or attending a funeral.)

  1. First Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph (Sentence about how he never missed a work that he didn’t have to miss)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about how Dad had a nearly perfect attendance record, for over twenty years of work)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the first main idea (Sentence about how he got an attendance award))

B. Second Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph (Sentence about how badly he felt when he had to miss work due to his surgery)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about how he cleaned the heater himself every year, saving the cost of having a technician come to do it)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the second main idea (Sentence about how he painted the house himself, to save money)

C. Third Main Idea Sentence for Third Body Paragraph (Sentence about how he was doubly sad when he had to miss work for a funeral, both because of the loss, and because he felt it was bad to miss work)

1. Support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he usually only went to family funerals)

2. A second support, proof, documentation, or an example of the third main idea (Sentence about how he impressed upon us kids that it was sad to lose people, and also bad, albeit very rarely, the right thing to do, to miss work)



V. Topic Sentence for Conclusion Paragraph (Sentence which reinforces the author’s opinion about the subject)






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