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How to Write a Basic (but not obnoxious) Essay

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Beth Staswick

on 8 February 2016

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Transcript of How to Write a Basic (but not obnoxious) Essay

Let's make a simile
Remember learning about similes? They are those phrases that compare two unlike things. Here is a simile for you:

Writing an essay is like building a house.

...Except you can do it sitting down, and it is way cheaper.
What is the first thing the workers do once they get the plans?

Ideally, they begin by digging and pouring a foundation.

What would happen if the workers put up walls first?
The Framing=Body Paragraphs
After your introduction come what are called the body paragraphs. I should already know the basics of what you are going to write here, because you told me in your thesis.

What would happen if you tried to build a house, but skipped the framing, and put on a roof first?


The Roof=The Conclusion
Moving into the House
How to Write a Basic (but not obnoxious) Essay
The Foundation=The Introduction
Just like the builders create the foundation first to stabilize the house, you must start creating your essay by writing an introduction. The introduction supports the rest of what you say.

Imagine you made someone angry back in elementary school without realizing it. Today at school, some person you hardly recognize walks up and says, "Nice people don't act like that. I have never forgiven you!" and walks away.

You'd be kinda confused, I bet. That's what happens when you don't have an introduction. Reading it is a bunch of, "Wait, what? But... What?"
So what do you do?
To write an introduction, you need a few key components, as well as to avoid a few things.

1. You need an
attention grabber.
Start with something that will immediately make me interested in what you have to say. I'm reading a few hundred of these, so don't bore me.
2. Write your
claim.
The claim is when you tell me what you are going to prove to me.
3. Write your
thesis
. The thesis is when you tell me exactly what you are going to tell me, summarized. It is the bolts in the floor supporting everything else.
Suggestions and Hints
Here are a few suggestions:
-Never begin with a dictionary definition. Dear goodness, just don't do it. This is the number one complaint of teachers when grading essays.
-If you being with a quotation, make sure you identify the speaker. None of this "anonymous" garbage. Do your research and figure it out. Also, don't choose someone random. If you don't know who they are, I probably don't either. You may as well ask a random person off the street, in which case, what do I care?
Build that Essay
People do this all the time, especially during election season. You hear what happens when people skip the framing every time someone says something like, "Trump is an idiot. He's going to ruin the country" or "Sanders is a socialist." Whether or not these statements are true is irrelevant. Prove it. THAT is why we have body paragraphs. You can claim whatever you want, but unless you can support yourself, your opinion just seems like something you heard on tv (or in class), and are repeating.
How to Attach the Framing
When writing body paragraphs, arrange them. Most people either begin or end with their strongest point. You can either get me on your side right away, or wait until the end and have a "bang!" ending. Either is fine, but keep your weakest point in the middle so, hopefully, I forget it.
Always
transition
, which means using a word or words that help me follow your thoughts.
Use a
quotation or quotations
from the book. At the end of all quotations or summaries, write the page number, like this, "Happy? Of all the nonsense. He stopped laughing" (8).
Make sure you
explain
your quotations, which means you should never have one at the beginning or the end of a paragraph.
What would happen if your house did not have a roof? Probably lots of bad things, but right now, I'm thinking it would be a giant mess of snow and cold. Leaky.

That is what happens when you do not conclude your paper. I find myself getting to the end and forgetting most of what I read. The conclusion keeps everything together, and prevents it from leaking (hopefully).
So, how is it done?
In my opinion, conclusions are the simplest part of a paper. It should be pretty much a mirror image of your introductory paragraph. Mirror, mind you, not replica. Mirrors distort things, and more importantly, do everything backward.

In your conclusion, start with a transition, then remind us of your thesis, then restate your claim, and then end with a bang. The introduction should have been the exact opposite.
Hints and Suggestions
Despite being the simplest, this is the paragraph most often skipped. Why? Probably because people run out of time. Other times I think people just don't realize how important it is. It is like the bow on the present. A pretty box without a bow just isn't as fun. Don't forget the bow!
Then What?
Alright, we have our foundation, our framing, and our roof. The house isn't pretty yet, but at least it is there. It is your job to make it pretty. How do you do it? You decorate.
-You use all four types of sentences.
-You use strong voice, so I know it is your house.
-You use descriptive words.
-You quote the book and outside resources to prove your point.
-You check that everything is spelled correctly and is grammatically correct.
-You read it to yourself, and when something sounds odd, you change it.

And then...
Well, you turn it into me. You will write the essay on GoogleDocs, so all you have to do is hit "share," then type my information into the box.

Before you go, make sure you cite all your sources on a works cited page, which we will do in class tomorrow. Without it, I can't check the validity of your points.

Have fun!


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