Essay Organization

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  1. Essay Organization

Before you ever start to write an essay, you MUST spend some time organizing your thoughts and information. You don’t have to write a formal outline, but even creating a list helps to keep you on track.

Let’s think about a paper topic and possibilities for organizing information:

Topic: Characteristics/classifications of poor students
First, let’s generate some ideas about what constitutes poor students:

  1. Doesn’t come to class

  2. Is always late for class

  3. Doesn’t read assigned material

  4. Waits until last minute to write papers and complete assignments

  5. Cuts up/acts up in class

  6. Constantly blames the teacher for his mistakes

  7. Doesn’t follow directions

  8. Doesn’t participate in group/class discussions/activities

  9. Cheats every chance he gets

  10. Doesn’t ask questions when he doesn’t understand

  11. Doesn’t buy the book or other materials for class

  12. Hasn’t seen his syllabus since the first day of class

Now let’s see what kinds of groupings we can make:

2, 4 Mr. Procrastination (cares, but not enough to get started early)

1, 5, 8, 9, 11 Mr. Couldn’t Care Less (first time away from home, too much freedom)

3, 7, 10, 12 Mr. Clueless (can’t get organized or focused, would care if someone would just spell out how)

I’m not sure how to fit in number 6, so I’m just going to leave that out. (You may have come up with a totally different grouping—that’s the beauty of writing!)
For my grouping, let’s see how we’d organize the paragraphs in an essay:
After an intriguing introduction, I might start with the Procrastinator since that’s the point with the least development; then, I might go to Clueless and then on to Couldn’t Care Less. That last one seems to stand apart from the rest in the amount of detail and the kind of person we’re dealing with there. What do you think? If your groupings were different, how would you organize your points?

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