Structure of an Essay

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Structure of an Essay : 

Structure of an Essay (Source: http://hwp.ocps.net/tl/boardmj/Writing%20@%20Literature/StructureofEssay.ppt. Adapted by Mr. Potter for English 11 Honors, Westlake High School

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay : 

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay Introduction Reason #1 (Evidence #1) Reason #2 (Evidence #2) Reason #3 (Evidence #3) Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Conclusion = Transitions OR

Introduction : 

Introduction General statement that introduces the topic. Additional statements that lead into the thesis statement. Thesis statement.

Introduction – Think of an introduction as an upside down triangle. : 

Introduction – Think of an introduction as an upside down triangle. General statement that introduces the topic. Additional statements that lead into the thesis statement. Thesis statement. General Specific

Strategies for Introductions : 

Strategies for Introductions An intriguing example A provocative quotation (with a lead-in) A general statement or universal observation. Other strategies include: vivid and concise anecdotes, a thought-provoking question, or a surprising fact/statistic

Example of a General Statement : 

Example of a General Statement Humanity’s greatest achievements have brought progress, but too often this “progress” has resulted in despair, and such progress is captured in All Quiet on the Western Front.

After you make a general statement… : 

After you make a general statement… You need transitional statements or elaborations that connect your general statement to your thesis. Examples: In the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, he describes gratuitous acts of violence brought upon the soldiers by the latest technological advancements. The inventions of chemical/gas agents and war machines, like tanks and air-fighters, have aided warfare but have reduced individuals to faceless casualties in the process.

Thesis statement : 

Thesis statement Your last sentence is the thesis. Example: Remarque uses the imagery of a stone to demonstrate how the destructive “weight” or force of technology brings down the soldiers’ morale and hopes.

Example of an Introduction: : 

Example of an Introduction: [General statement]: Humanity’s greatest achievements have brought progress, but too often this “progress” has resulted in despair, and such progress is captured in All Quiet on the Western Front. [Transitional statement(s)]: In the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, he describes gratuitous acts of violence brought upon the soldiers by the latest technological advancements. The inventions of chemical/gas agents and war machines, like tanks and air-fighters, have aided warfare but have reduced individuals to faceless casualties in the process .[Plot/Observation only] [Thesis]: Remarque uses the imagery from nature associated with destruction to demonstrate how the destructive “weight” or force of technology brings down the soldiers’ morale and hopes. [Plot and Thought/Commentary] [Another possible thesis: Remarque criticizes these advancements in order to warn future generations of the deadly consequences of technology. – Be careful with these type of thesis statements – the kind that deal with author’s intent. You would need more background to prove this thesis.]

You give it a try… : 

You give it a try… General statement: Transitional statement(s): Thesis statement:

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay : 

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay Introduction Reason #1 (Evidence #1) Reason #2 (Evidence #2) Reason #3 (Evidence #3) Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Conclusion = Transitions OR

Body paragraphs : 

Body paragraphs Body Paragraphs (Paragraph Frame): Topic sentence Evidence (specific example, detail, or reason that “proves” the topic sentence) [PLOT] Commentary (interpretation of how the example relates to the topic sentence.) [THOUGHT] Additional supporting sentences with evidence and commentary. Concluding sentence

A paragraph might look like this… : 

A paragraph might look like this… Topic sentence: [One of your observations that stems from the thesis] [Blend of Plot & Thought] Evidence: [A quote or descriptive paraphrase/summary of an example]. [PLOT] Commentary: [How your evidence relates to your thesis – controlling idea] [THOUGHT] Evidence: [Further quote or summary…] PLOT] Commentary: [Relate to thesis…] [THOUGHT] Evidence: [Additional info.] PLOT] Commentary: “ “ [THOUGHT] Concluding Sentence: Rephrases your main idea/observation. Transitional Sentence (may be combined with the concluding sentence or the next topic sentence) [Blend of Plot & Thought]

BALANCE!!! : 

BALANCE!!! You want your body paragraphs to have a balance of plot and thought! 50% PLOT 50% THOUGHT It is acceptable to have more thought than plot but not the other way around.

Sample body paragraph : 

Sample body paragraph An explicit reference is made to the image of a stone while Paul and his fellow soldiers are in the trenches. While describing the front-line and the constant barrage of fire, Paul states, “the front-line days…sink down in us like a stone” (138). A few pages later Paul makes another reference to the war like a stone that “sink[s] down” (140). The recurring reference to the stone, while he is in the trenches, suggests that Paul’s experiences on the front-line is weighing down the troops. Paul feels that the horrors of trench warfare due to the weapons and violence of war is taking away their hopes for the future and is contributing to a lack of purpose in the war. At the end of the section with this stone imagery, Paul explains the soldier’s mentality: “we cannot hold out much longer; our humour becomes more bitter every month” (140). Like a person carrying a great weight (or stone), the mounting pressure of trench warfare is taking its toll on the troops. The crushing effects of the stone occur later when Paul describes the tanks on the frontline. Can you identify the plot sentences and the thought sentences?

Sample body paragraph : 

Sample body paragraph An explicit reference is made to the image of a stone while Paul and his fellow soldiers are in the trenches. While describing the front-line and the constant barrage of fire, Paul states, “the front-line days…sink down in us like a stone” (138). A few pages later Paul makes another reference to the war like a stone that “sink[s] down” (140). The recurring reference to the stone, while he is in the trenches, suggests that Paul’s experiences on the front-line is weighing down the troops. Paul feels that the horrors of trench warfare due to the weapons and violence of war is taking away their hopes for the future and is contributing to a lack of purpose in the war. At the end of the section with this stone imagery, Paul explains the soldier’s mentality: “we cannot hold out much longer; our humour becomes more bitter every month” (140). Like a person carrying a great weight (or stone), the mounting pressure of trench warfare is taking its toll on the troops. The idea of crushing occurs later in another metaphor when Paul describes the tanks on the frontline. Black = Plot Red = Thought

Another example of a body paragraph… : 

Another example of a body paragraph… Plot summary versus Textual support of an Explanation: Consider the following … Arguable topic: Odysseus is an anti-hero due to his habit of allowing his hubris to lead to tragedy. Which paragraph on the following slide has a balance of plot and thought?

Slide 18: 

Paragraph #1: After the fall of Troy, Odysseus should have been mindful of the gods. Demonstrating his hubris, he boasts of his ingenuity at the conception of the Trojan horse tactic. If Odysseus were a true hero, he would have remained humble and quietly ventured home. A man as intelligent as Odysseus should have known the wrath that belittling the gods’ efforts would bring. Being overwhelmed by the joys of victory, he boasts of his achievement. A true hero would recognize the need to control his emotions and focus on the task at hand: getting his men back to their homeland safely. Odysseus only thinks of himself, neglecting his obedience to the gods; thus, inspiring them to seek vengeance. Had Odysseus refrained from his boasting and shown reverence, his ship may have arrived in Ithaca, unharmed. Paragraph #2: Odysseus demonstrated unheroic stupidity and arrogance when he dealt with Polyneices. O and his men were starving, so he had to secure food. He assumes he is welcome to all that he comes across since he believes in the laws of hospitality. He eats the Cyclops’ cheese without caution. When he makes Polyneices angry, he blinds him and escapes; however, he makes an arrogant error. O. taunts the Cyclops, making him angry. After O. reveals his name, Polyneices swears vengeance upon O. for blinding him. Polyneices’ father is Poseidon, god of the sea which O. must sail upon. When Poseidon later seeks vengeance for his son by punishing O., all of the men die. These errors make O. unheroic.

Slide 19: 

Paragraph #1: After the fall of Troy, Odysseus should have been mindful of the gods. Demonstrating his hubris, he boasts of his ingenuity at the conception of the Trojan horse tactic. If Odysseus were a true hero, he would have remained humble and quietly ventured home. A man as intelligent as Odysseus should have known the wrath that belittling the gods’ efforts would bring. Being overwhelmed by the joys of victory, he boasts of his achievement. A true hero would recognize the need to control his emotions and focus on the task at hand: getting his men back to their homeland safely. Odysseus only thinks of himself, neglecting his obedience to the gods; thus, inspiring them to seek vengeance. Had Odysseus refrained from his boasting and shown reverence, his ship may have arrived in Ithaca, unharmed. Paragraph #2: Odysseus demonstrated unheroic stupidity and arrogance when he dealt with Polyneices. O and his men were starving, so he had to secure food. He assumes he is welcome to all that he comes across since he believes in the laws of hospitality. He eats the Cyclops’ cheese without caution. When he makes Polyneices angry, he blinds him and escapes; however, he makes an arrogant error. O. taunts the Cyclops, making him angry. After O. reveals his name, Polyneices swears vengeance upon O. for blinding him. Polyneices’ father is Poseidon, god of the sea which O. must sail upon. When Poseidon later seeks vengeance for his son by punishing O., all of the men die. These errors make O. unheroic. * Notice the balance of paragraph #1 versus the imbalance of #2.

You give it a try… : 

You give it a try… Topic sentence: [State one of your observations that stems from the thesis] Evidence: [Provide a quote or descriptive paraphrase/summary of an example]. Commentary: [How does your evidence relate to your thesis – controlling idea] Evidence: [Further quote or summary…] Commentary: [Relate to thesis…] Concluding Sentence: Rephrases your main idea/observation. Transitional Sentence (may be combined with the concluding sentence or the next topic sentence)

Transitions : 

Transitions Transitions are the links between paragraphs (and sentences/ideas) that help the reader follow the main line of thought. 4 Types: 1st type: Standard devices – words/phrases. See list. These can become painfully obvious when used over and over again; therefore, avoid too many standard devices. Instead use hooks…

Some common standard devices: : 

Some common standard devices:

Transitions cont’d. : 

Transitions cont’d. 2nd type: Paragraph hooks – more sophisticated form of transition. The last word/phrase of the preceding paragraph is hooked into the first sentence of the paragraph and used as a point of departure for another idea. Should not exceed 3-4 words. The repetition hooks the paragraphs together. Ex. He is a gentleman who embodies the very spirit of loving-kindness. The loving-kindness begins to look a little doubtful when Twain’s darker writings are read.

Transitions cont’d. : 

Transitions cont’d. 3rd type: Idea hook – hook into preceding paragraph, but instead of repeating the exact word/phrase, you refer to an idea just expressed, compressing it into a single phrase. Ex. Twain is the spirit of loving-kindness. Such a view of Twain would probably have been a source of high amazement to the author himself.

Transitions cont’d. : 

Transitions cont’d. 4th type: Combination of several types – Combine standard devices with idea/paragraph hook. Ex. Twain is the spirit of loving-kindness. In contrast to this view, Twain would probably have been surprised and would have characterized himself as the opposite.

Practice Transitions : 

Practice Transitions In each example below, assume that the first sentence is the concluding sentence of a paragraph and that the second sentence is the opening sentence of the next paragraph. Supply one type of transition needed for the second sentence. He received the highest praise for his efforts to improve living conditions in the slums. He was frequently criticized. (Idea/paragraph hook) The furniture he had acquired for his living room was surely as ugly as anything ever made. It was comfortable. (Combination) Students are showing greater interest in baseball as a school sport. Students are showing greater interest in dramatics. (Standard device) The movie was the victim of poor photography and a bad script. It was interesting. (Combination) (Use “however” for this example): He had taken piano lessons for years. He was not a good pianist.

A Note about “However” : 

A Note about “However” “However” is known as a conjunctive adverb (it joins two sentences together by subordinating the second to the first). Any time it joins two sentences (by going between them), punctuate it as follows (*Notice the semi-colon, lower-case “h”, and comma after “however.”): The IB curriculum is difficult; however, it is very rewarding.

Embedding quotes : 

Embedding quotes Guidelines for Quotes: Cannot stand alone as a sentence. Should not be back-to-back (must interpret evidence and explain after each quote). Should not begin or end a paragraph (they are support for statements made and need commentary after). Must be written exactly as they appear (* one exception). Should all be four or fewer typed lines. Should be worked right into your writing. Do not always need to be full sentences / can be phrases (use ellipses…to indicate left our part). Need to be in present tense since the paper is written in present tense (must flow). *To change the verb form, place the changed verb in [brackets]. This indicates an altered quote. Should not be dropped into writing suddenly.

Embedding quotes cont’d. : 

Embedding quotes cont’d. All quotes should have signal phrases (lead-ins). These serve as the introduction to the quote and should provide the context needed to interpret the quote. Do not depend on the quote to make the point for you. You MUST: 1) lead-in to quote 2) give the quote in present tense 3) cite the author and page number 4) give commentary

Types of Lead-ins : 

Types of Lead-ins The “somebody said” lead-in: Ex. After he hears of Kemmerich’s death, Paul comments, “I become faint, all at once I cannot do any more. I won’t revile any more, it is senseless” (Remarque 32). The “blended” lead-in: Some of the quoted material is left out . What is retained is blended right into the sentence. Ex. Paul becomes disillusioned early on by the war and views it as “senseless” (32). The “sentence” lead-in: This lead-in is followed by a colon. Ex. Paul evidently suffers from despair after the death of his fellow soldier: “it is senseless” (32).

Common Lead-in Verbs : 

Common Lead-in Verbs Argues, asserts, believes, claims, comments, declares, illustrates, notes observes, reasons, reports, suggests, thinks, writes.

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay : 

“FLEE” Map – the basic structure for writing an essay Introduction Reason #1 (Evidence #1) Reason #2 (Evidence #2) Reason #3 (Evidence #3) Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Example Explanation Elaboration Conclusion = Transitions OR

Conclusion : 

Conclusion The conclusion needs to wrap up things and allow the reader to withdraw gracefully. How do you withdraw gracefully? Rephrase the thesis Make additional statements about the topic. End with a general statement that leaves an impression on the reader (a clincher).

Conclusion (specific to general)… : 

Conclusion (specific to general)… REWORD: Rephrase the thesis. REMIND: Additional statements about the paper topic. Mention some of your best points. RELATE: General statement that ends the essay (clincher).

Conclusion : 

Conclusion Steps: Go to the introduction (rewrite it if necessary) Reword your thesis (same meaning different wording). This rewording becomes the first sentence of your paragraph. You may have to add an appropriate word or phrase to this sentence to tie it into the paragraph that came before. Pick a key word or phrase from the introduction and work it into the next sentence. This reworking creates an echo and provides a sense of completeness.

Steps cont’d. : 

Steps cont’d. 4. Remind your reader of your most important points/ideas from your body paragraphs but do not summarize points by simply listing them. Do not be flatly repetitive; be interesting and selective. Remind of the points by using fewer and different words. Sometimes tying in the paper’s title is effective (if it is a catchy, good title). 5. Relate your thesis to a broader background. This sentence should be a universal statement, something that could apply to the reader’s own life. Leave the reader with an insightful ending which gives him/her something to think about, something which will keep your analysis alive long after it has been read. Ask yourself: what can a person learn about life from my paper?

You give it a try… : 

You give it a try… Reword the thesis sentence and add any needed transition word/phrase: Using different words, remind of the most important body paragraph points: Relate to life by sharing what a person can learn about life from your paper:

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