Chapter 5: The Illustration Essay



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Chapter 5: The Illustration Essay


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The first time many students hear the term, “Illustration Essay,” they think: “What does that mean? Illustrations are drawings they put in books. What do illustrations have to do with writing?” Surprisingly, the little known Illustration Essay is the most important essay for you to learn. That’s because an Illustration Essay models the organization you use to write all kinds of essays in college, work, and in life. If you learn to write an effective Illustration Essay, you’ll have the secret to effective writing.
The organization behind an Illustration Essay is simple: it’s writing that proves a point (The Thesis) by examples. Examples are just another word for the Specific Support we studied in the earlier chapters. Because the Illustration Essay most accurately models using Specific Support to prove your Thesis, it’s a great way to practice and improve your writing.
The Illustration Essay is often defined as “writing by example,” and that’s exactly what you’re doing: You’re giving examples – examples with details – to support your Thesis Statement.
Practice 1. “Writing by example” – Take a look at the following drafts of the same essay and decide which essay uses Examples to give you a better idea of what the writer is trying to prove about the Topic.

“Effects of Lack of Sleep”



Essay 1



I’m a student taking a full load of classes, and I work twenty hours a week so I can pay the tuition for college. With this busy schedule, I’ve realized there are many bad effects when I do not get enough sleep at night. The first effect is I tend to fall asleep in class. Falling asleep means I miss everything. It’s hard to concentrate when you haven’t had enough sleep. It’s hard to pay attention when you haven’t had enough sleep. I miss most of what the professor is lecturing on. I find myself nodding off and soon I’m asleep. I am doing nothing more than wasting my time in class.
Another effect of not getting enough sleep is that I lack energy. My body will not have much energy if I don’t get enough sleep because sleeping allows my body to rest and recharge. I am not lazy, but without sleep I feel low energy without the drive to complete my work. That lack of energy is almost all caused by not getting enough sleep. I know my low energy level could be solved if I just could get more sleep.
The third effect is the quality of my work won’t be very good. If I am tired, I don’t focus well and I won’t do well in college, at my job, or wherever I am. I am not happy with the quality of my work, but without enough sleep, I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. I think the quality of work in college or at my job is dependent on how much sleep I have had. I am not happy with the quality of my work, but I know I could solve this problem by getting enough sleep.
These are some of the bad results I have experienced from not getting enough sleep. Don’t you think that after a while I would figure out that if I want to do well in life, I should get more sleep?


Essay 2


I’m a student taking a full load of classes, and I work twenty hours a week so I can pay the tuition for college. With this busy schedule, I’ve realized there are many bad effects when I do not get enough sleep at night. The first effect is I tend to fall asleep in class. Falling asleep means I miss everything. For example, last Sunday night I only got three hours of sleep because I stayed up late talking with a friend. That next day in my English class I was listening and the next thing I knew my professor was shaking me awake! I was definitely embarrassed, and I remembered none of what was covered including what we were assigned for homework and what our essay was on and when it was due.
Another effect of not getting enough sleep is that I lack energy. My body will not have much energy if I don’t get enough sleep because sleeping allows my body to rest and recharge. I have to wake up early to go to class. I have three classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and two classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all in the morning. After class, I have to go to work at Target. I’m at the cash register from 2:00 until 6:00, five days a week. Then when I finish work, I go back to the apartment, cook some dinner, and then I need to do homework for at least two hours a night. I cannot keep up with everything I have to do if I don’t get a good night’s sleep. I just don’t have the energy. Last week, for example, I ended up missing my classes on Wednesday, did not make it to work on Thursday, and failed to do my homework all week!
The third effect is the quality of my work won’t be very good. Without enough sleep, I make stupid mistakes at work, and I am not able to concentrate on my homework at night. As for that essay that was due in English, the best I could do was a “D,” which is not good enough. My professor told me I can do better, and I had to admit that he was right. I know that the quality of my work would improve significantly if I could get enough sleep.
These are some of the bad results I have experienced from not getting enough sleep. Don’t you think that after a while I would figure out that if I want to do well in life, I should get more sleep?

Which Essay uses Specific Examples to help the reader understand each Support Point?


___ Essay 1 ___ Essay 2





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