Essay Terminology Essay

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Essay Terminology


Essay:  A piece of writing that gives your thoughts (commentary) about a subject and supports your ideas with fact. All essays will have an introductory paragraph, body paragraph(s), and a concluding paragraph.

Introduction (introductory paragraph):  The first paragraph in an essay. It begins with a hook to get the reader interested—a question, quote, statistic, anecdote, a provocative statement. It introduces the general topic and narrows the readers focus to the thesis (the specific topic) at the end of this paragraph.


1. Hook

2. General Info

3. If doing lit analyis—summary of story, author’s name, title

4. Thesis
An intro ¶ acts like a funnel, getting the reader’s attention with the hook, telling them what you’re talking about in general, then getting very specific with your thesis.

Thesis Statement:  A sentence with subject and opinion (also called commentary). This comes somewhere in your introductory paragraph, most often at the end. It tells the reader what your essay will be about. It often clarifies what the body paragraphs will be about. It is one to two sentences in length.


Body Paragraph:  Middle paragraph(s) in the essay. Each body paragraph will develop a point that supports your thesis.


Topic Sentence (TS): The first sentence in a body paragraph. This must have a subject and opinion (commentary) for the paragraph. It does the same thing for the body paragraph that the thesis does for the whole essay— tells the reader what the paragraph is about.


Concrete Details (CD):  Specific details that form the backbone of your body paragraphs; they support the point you’re trying to make with your topic sentence. Synonyms for concrete detail include: facts, specifics, examples, descriptions, illustrations, support, proof, evidence, quotations, paraphrasing, or plot references.


Commentary (CM):  Your comment or opinion about something; not concrete detail. Synonyms include: opinion, insight, analysis, interpretation, personal response, feelings, evaluation, explanation, and reflection.

Answers why or how your CD proves your TS.


For CDs when quotes

TLQ (transition, link, quote):  Transition is a word or two to transition from one thought to another (also, in addition, hence, etc.). Link is who said the quote and what the context of the quote is. Quote is the word for word, exact quotation with a citation (this is the source; where you obtained your quote from). A quote is anything from the text, not just what people are saying.
Concluding Sentence (CS):  The last sentence in a body paragraph. It is all commentary, does not repeat key words; it restates main point, and gives a finished feeling to the paragraph.


Conclusion (concluding paragraph):  The last paragraph in your essay. It should sum up your ideas, say more commentary about your subject, or give a personal statement about the subject. Your conclusion is all commentary and does not include concrete detail. It does not repeat key words from your paper and especially not from your thesis and introductory paragraph. It gives a finished feeling to your whole essay. 

Pre-writing:  The process of getting your concrete details down on paper before you organize your essay into paragraphs. Bubble clusters, spider diagrams, outlines, line clustering, or columns. Pre-writing helps you know if you have enough concrete details to support your thesis.

Shaping the Essay:  The step that is done after pre-writing and before the first draft of an essay; it is an outline of your thesis, topic sentences, concrete details, and commentary ideas.

 First Draft:  Also called the rough draft, this is the first version of your essay.

 Peer Response:  Written responses to a partner’s paper. Also called peer editing.

 Revision:  The step after editing your own paper and getting feedback from others. This is where you fix errors and improve your wording.

Final Draft:  The final “perfect” version of your essay.

Chunk:  It is the smallest unified group of thoughts you can write. In English class it is one sentence of concrete detail (CD) and two sentences of commentary (CM)

 Ratio:  The ratio of concrete detail to commentary, usually 1 part of concrete detail to 2 parts of commentary.

Weaving:  Blending concrete details and commentary in a body paragraph in any order. You can do this after you master the “chunk” format.

 Word Count:  The minimum length per paragraph to earn a “C.”

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