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Writing a Cause and Effect Paragraph
Transcript of Writing a Cause and Effect Paragraph
Steps to Write the Cause and Effect Paragraph
Decide what the primary organization will be.
Writers use the cause and effect method of organizing ideas when writing about issues, problems, and solutions.
Writing a Cause and Effect Paragraph
Cause and effect paragraphs aim at examining outcomes and reasons for outcomes.
Put another way,
cause and effect paragraphs examine what happened and why it happened.
A cause is something that produces an effect.
An effect is something brought about by a cause.
For example, a heavy rain (cause) can lead to a landslide (effect).
Sometimes, an initial cause can lead to an initial effect, but that initial effect can be the cause of a later effect.
The landslide, which was the effect of the heavy rain, can in turn be the cause of a house collapsing into a ravine.
In turn, the house collapsing into the ravine can be the cause of someone being hurt.
A cause and effect paragraph can be arranged either by discussing the cause first or by discussing the effect first.
Within the primary organization, the writer next chooses the internal organization.
A cause and effect paragraph can be arranged using the general to particular or the particular to general patterns.
Example: Cause to Effect
The media is a powerful force that shapes teenage attitudes towards violence. The print media, meaning magazines and newspapers, routinely carries graphic stories and photographs of violent acts. Teenagers see headlines blaring news of the latest murder or riot. Television and movies do the same, producing show after show in which the hero or heroine is glorified for killing "bad guys" by the dozens. Finally, the internet and video games provide teens with newer and more interactive ways not only to watch violence, but also seemingly to participate in and practice it. It is no wonder that today's teenagers seem much more accepting of violence than were teens of earlier generations.
Example: Effect to Cause
Teenage attitudes towards violence have changed dramatically from attitudes held by previous generations. Teens today seem much more accepting of violence in their world. One of the major causes of behind this shift is the media. The print media, meaning newspapers, and magazines, routinely carries graphic stories and photographs of violent acts. Teenagers see headlines blaring news of the latest murder or riot. Television and movies do the same, producing show after show in which the hero or heroine is glorified for killing "bad guys" by the dozens. Finally, the internet and video games provide teens with newer and more interactive ways not only to watch violence, but also seemingly to participate in and practice it.
The first example shows how four specific causes from the media - printed material, television, movies, and interactive internet and video games - result in changed teenage attitudes towards violence. The writer uses the general to particular method of organizing when discussing the causes of teen attitudes, first by introducing the media in general, and then by discussing various types of media influences.
The second example states the effect first (changed attitudes towards violence) and follows with four specific causes. Again the writer uses the general to particular method of organization.
In both examples, the media examples are organized in a climactic fashion. The writer begins with print media, which simply, shows pictures or print stories. Next, the writer discusses movies, which show exactly how the violence occurs. Finally, the writer discussed how video and internet games allow readers and viewers to actually participate in the (simulated) violence.
For longer pieces of writing, each media example could be developed into its own paragraph, with the writer providing additional examples, titles, and internet sites.
Beware of false causes and effects. There is a difference between a correlation between two subjects and a true cause and effect relationship. For example, if two redheaded boys won two different running races, a writer might conclude that red hair is the cause of winning races. This would be a false cause and effect. The boys won (effect) because they were fast (cause), not because they had red hair.
Use examples for support, either for causes or effects. Ensure that your supporting examples are accurate, representative, and convincing.
Before you begin writing, carefully distinguish between the causes and the effects. List them on paper.
Present causes and effects in whatever method is most effective. Possible alternatives include chronological order, climactic, or anticlimactic.
Use the cause and effect method of arranging ideas to write editorials, argue for social or political change, or take a position on local, national, or international issues.