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Formal Essay Writing
Transcript of Formal Essay Writing
introduction? 1. Hook/attention grabber - something to draw the reader in 2. Brief background on the text you are analyzing
a. Short summary of the text/poem
b. Information on the author/poet 3. Thesis statement with your main claim/argument
a. This is ONE complete sentence
b. Is found at the END of your introduction
c. Contains 3 main reasons/ideas for support How do I write a
thesis statement? The thesis = answer to your prompt Ask yourself: What is the prompt asking me to do?
Be sure to repeat key words of the prompt in your thesis! Example:
Prompt: Choose ONE character from The Crucible and explain how he/she lacks/exemplifies THREE Puritan characteristics.
Thesis: In Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, John Proctor does demonstrate the Puritan trait of having a good work ethic, but he lacks the traits of morality and obedience to God's laws. Body Paragraphs So...what's a topic sentence and what does it do? A topic sentence explains what that paragraph is about... ...and how it connects to the thesis statement! Using the previous example:
One particular Puritan trait John Proctor does show is that of having a solid work eithic. Character mentioned
in thesis My observation/claim
made in the thesis My first main point
listed in my thesis Supporting Details/Evidence from the Text After explaining your claim in a sentence or two, now you need to support yourself with textual evidence. Basic Format/Outline Structure 1. Topic Sentence
2. Explain claim (1-2 sentences max)
3. Support #1 from the text (quotations w/ citation)
4. Explain HOW your quote SUPPORTS your claim
5. Support #2 from the text (quotations w/ citation)
6. Explain HOW your quote SUPPORTS your claim
7. Support #3 from the text...
8. Explain HOW your quote/reference SUPPORTS your claim
9. Wrap up/conclude the paragraph Using the previous example, I would explain what the
Puritan work ethic was like to help my readers understand
the main topic of my paragraph. Support from the text = quotations from the piece of literature (play, novel, poem, etc.)
The support should be CAREFULLY chosen to BEST support you! DO NOT FORGET MLA IN-TEXT CITATIONS!!! Once you have your quotations/support it's time to EXPLAIN yourself a little! Don't make the reader figure things out - tell him/her what you intended in using that piece of text. Don't just "plop" a quote in and move on. Quotations are there to
SUPPORT you, not speak for you! Let's keep using the same example: John Proctor demonstrates his solid work ethic when he explains to Reverend Hale that he cannot always attend church because he needs to remain home to plow his fields. He does not have extra help in the fields, so it is his job to do it. This shows a great work ethic because even though it is frowned upon in Salem, John knows that the only way to take care of his family and his land is if he works hard at it himself. In addition, John also demonstrates the Puritan trait of being hard working when... Something to remember: You need to have THREE supporting details...which means you repeat the same support/explanation pattern THREE times. If you do not do this, do not expect to get an A on a paper. You need to fully support your claims! Conclusion Once you've made it to the conclusion paragraph, don't lose steam...you're almost done! This is your last chance to make a good impression, so don't slack off here. Restate your thesis - IN NEW WORDS
Recap some of your main ideas/most important claims made within the body of your essay Leave your reader with a critique of the text or something interesting to keep them thinking about your topic. Do NOT end on a question...it's rather cliche and overdone. Formal Essay Language It is important to remember your audience when writing a formal paper In an academic setting, your audience is your teacher/instructor/professor...so FORMAL language is expected So...what is formal language exactly? This means: - you, you're, your are OFF LIMITS - you should be writing
in 3rd person POV - I believe, I think, I feel, etc. are
also OFF LIMITS! - Names of people and places should be capitalized
(ex: John Proctor, Salem, Puritan) - Contractions (don't, can't, won't...) are once
again OFF LIMITS! They are very informal - write them out. - Avoid any slang words or inappropriate language.
If you're not sure if it's inappropriate, revise and go with something safer. You may need to edit carefully if you often slip into more informal language. Editing - peer or otherwise - is ESSENTIAL when writing a paper. Never be satisfied with the 1st draft. Common Mistakes Found in the Era Essays: 1. Alot off spling errorrs an typeos.
2. caPitALizAtioN ISsuES GalORe!
3. Run-on sentences that seemed to go on and on and on forever and I couldn't stop to take a moment to process what you had written because it never stopped and you just kept on writing as if you had to get it down on paper before the thought escaped you. 4. Names of characters were spelled wrong
(John Procter, Marry Warren, etc.) 5. Many sentences started with "So" or "How" - which
created A LOT of fragments, or incomplete sentences. Rubric...what rubric...did I
get one of those? The answer to this question is: YES Did people look at the rubric before
handing in their paper? Sadly, I think the answer for many of you is: NO Why should I bother with the rubric? Isn't that for teachers to use? Yes and no. Yes, I do need it to grade your paper... But YOU should look at it before you even print off a copy of your essay.
The rubric has EVERYTHING you need to know about the essay and how you
are going to be graded. It's basically a checklist - so use it! Final Comments About
the Era Essays If you did not use 3 supporting details
per paragraph, you lost a lot of points
in each body paragraph... If you did not provide any background/summary of the play, you lost some points in your intro... If your thesis was not there, you could not earn full points for that part of your intro... No topic sentence = difficult to follow your paragraphs... If you did not cite your quotations or provide a Works Cited page, you lost points for MLA... Bottom Line: Before you attack me with questions about why you earned the grade you did, READ MY COMMENTS and READ THE RUBRIC closely. As we begin the next assessment - the Literary Merit Essay - use these notes as a refresher for you so that you don't make the same mistakes. Many of you made errors that are easy to fix - you just have to stay focused, use your time wisely, go to the Writing Center, and put a little more effort into your work.