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Breaking Free of the

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Jennifer Hurley

on 16 August 2016

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Transcript of Breaking Free of the

Breaking Free of the
Five-Paragraph Essay

Why do we learn the 5-paragraph essay in school? Does it have any benefits?
The 5-paragraph essay serves as our "training wheels."
Without training wheels ...
What are the downsides to the
5-paragraph essay?
It can make writing formulaic. We start to think writing is about "plugging in" our topic to the structure.
This can give us a false sense of confidence about our writing. Also, it can make the process writing seem boring.
Good writing is a process of creative discovery, and like every creative process, it is messy.
"How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"
--E.M. Forster
author of
A Room With a View
If you impose structure too early in the creative process, it shuts down your thinking.
How can we break free of the 5-paragraph essay? Any ideas?
Maybe you only make one point in your thesis, but you defend that point in several ways, using a different paragraph for each way.

Or, maybe you have five points instead of three.
This presentation was an inductive argument, so here's my concluding thesis:

Let the ideas dictate the form, rather than the other way around.
When you get involved in the ideas you are writing about, when you have something you really want to communicate ...

that's when writing becomes fun.
Deductive Argument:
Begins with the writer's thesis
Body paragraphs prove the thesis
Inductive Argument:
Explains the issue in the beginning
Body paragraphs offer different ways of thinking about the issue
Essay concludes with the thesis
Which style of argumentation makes most sense for you? Which seems easier?
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