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So, you have to write an essay...

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Stephen Dacosta

on 22 July 2015

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Transcript of So, you have to write an essay...

So, you have to write an essay...
Let's climb this mountain together!
Writing your assignments may seem like a tall and scary mountain to climb, but remember the poet Theodore Roethke's words:

"Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley."
Let's finish strong!
You totally nailed the climb! You're up on top, looking down into the valley, and reveling in your success. All done, right? Not yet! You have to provide closure to the reader.
Beginning the Climb: Planning
Having a good plan in place is an essential part of making your essay successful. Here are some tips to get you started on your climb!

Look at the assignment directions. What is the primary goal of the essay? Think of this as the summit of your mountain. What technique is the essay calling for? Rhetorical analysis? Review/Evaluation? Commentary? Cause and effect? What is the word count? How many sources do you need?

Think of the technique and directions as your climbing equipment. If you feel lost, do a little research online or by looking at the sample essays. Would you climb a mountain without knowing how to set up your ropes and put on your harness?

Once you've identified the summit and rigged up your climbing gear, it's time to pick your route to the top. Few climbers reach the top without a map for success. In much the same way, you might get lost while writing your essay. Your introduction is your map.
Your Introduction: Map for Success
Your introduction should accomplish the following:
get the reader's attention,
introduce the topic of your essay,

present a strong thesis statement,

and lay out the major points you plan to make.

Here's an example of an introduction about climbing mountains; note how I follow the formula above:

At one time in human history, mountains represented obstacles to travel and commerce rather than sacred places for recreation and self-discovery.
As technology allowed faster travel through rougher terrain, cultural attitudes towards mountains shifted considerably. In the early 19th century, British surveyors began exploring the Indian subcontinent and came across the Himalaya. Almost immediately, efforts began in earnest to explore and climb the highest peaks on earth.

Today, that spirit of exploration is preserved in the sport of mountaineering.

Mountaineering is a very popular sport that is found in three main forms: recreational, professional, and scientific/exploratory.

Do you see how the color coding brought the formula to life? This will work on any essay project you ever write! Now that you have a map, let's start climbing!
The Ascent: Your Body Paragraphs
Once you've successfully used your introduction to map your route to the top, you'll want to transition into the body paragraphs; these represent your actual climb to the summit.

Remember those three main points at the end of the sample introduction? Each of those main points deserves its own paragraph (or two, if your climb...I mean essay...needs to be longer. Stick to the map and keep these main points in the same order.

Each paragraph should be organized around a "topic sentence" that lets the reader know what that paragraph will cover. Whenever the next paragraph will address a new point, make sure you use a transition sentence at the end of the paragraph preceding it.
Getting Close!!
During your climb, you'll want to have anchor points--places to tie your rope off so you don't slip! Think of your research sources as these anchor points. After each topic sentence, you'll provide support for that point.

You'll do this by combining your own thoughts and words with support from outside sources (properly quoted, cited, and referenced). These supporting bits will be your anchor points.

For most essays, you'll want to have 70-80% of the text be in your own words with no more than 20-30% coming from properly cited research.

For more information on format, citations, and references, please see http://gcumedia.com/lms-resources/student-success-center/writing-center/

Keep climbing! You're almost done!
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