Note: I had to tutor a group of students on this topic, so I figure I’d add it to my blog for others to either learn from or add insight to my lecture.
When writing a five paragraph essay, first you have to observe the prompt (or the question). You must understand what the teacher is asking of you as well as understand how you want to respond to the teacher’s request. For some people, after they complete this step, they can jump straight into writing. However for everyone else, we need to jot down our thoughts and follow the simple formula in order to proceed.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, every basic five paragraph essay has a topic, thesis, introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. So then the formula reflects the list below:
1. Introduction: opener with a thesis statement
2. Body 1: one piece of evidence that supports the thesis. Then analyze.
3. Body 2: second piece of evidence that supports the thesis. Then analyze.
4. Body 3: third piece of evidence that supports the thesis. Then analyze.
5. Conclusion: reiteration tying everything together
Each number in this formula represents a paragraph that is necessary to complete a basic essay. But it is not best to start off writing with this formula because it limits your thinking. It is best to start off with writing everything you can think of through brainstorming, and then use the formula to structure your thoughts. After you finish brainstorming, it is time to select the focus of the topic (or thesis) to create an introduction.
The essay prompt usually consist of questions. In order to create a topic for your paper, you need to answer the question. Some students think the answer is the thesis, but that’s is not the case. A thesis has to have a claim. A thesis is a debatable statement that demands literary persuasion in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of your side the argument. But to simplify this statement for first-time writers, a thesis is a sentence that involves a subject, an opinion, and a claim. Now that you have a thesis, the rest of the writing process should be simple, including the intro paragraph.
The intro paragraph is the most important because it gives the reader a taste of your writing capabilities, and it allows the reader to see if your essay is interesting or dry. To avoid writing a dry essay, an intro must consist of a strong or unique opening. One way to tell if your writing is strong is to judge for yourself. Read your first sentence out loud to yourself, and if you are proud of what you wrote, then that is a strong opening.
Some opening suggestions:
- Interesting quote
- Bold statement
- Interesting facts
The thesis usually comes at the end of the first paragraph, so let’s keep it there for the sake of learning. Therefore, the sentences located between the opening and the thesis should connect them together.
This is where most students lose their way. There needs to be three decent sized paragraphs between the introduction and the conclusion in order to complete a five paragraph essay. To create these paragraphs, the writer must have a topic sentence. This tells the reader what you are going to talk about in that paragraph, which will consist of evidence and an analysis of the evidence.
The structure of the body paragraph goes like this:
- Topic sentence that supports the thesis
- Evidence or specific information that further explains the topic sentence.
- Your personal interpretation of that specific information
Do this for all three body paragraphs.
Notice how I presented transitions to the list. Most students naturally transition their paragraphs, but it’s still good to be conscious of it. Transitions are sentences, phrases, or words that allow the reader to easily read one paragraph to another. Transitions make your essay smooth.
Most people like the color blue because it is peaceful, unlike the color red.
The phrase “unlike the color red” automatically hints the reader that the next paragraph is going to be about the color red, and this makes the essay easy to follow.
Now it is good to add a rebuttal paragraph as your second or third body paragraph when you’re writing an essay on a controversial issue. A rebuttal paragraph is where the writer adds the an opposing argument, and counters it.
Some say the color blue is not peaceful. They believe it is depressing.
If my thesis is about how the color blue because a peaceful color, then this statement above goes against my thesis. I’ll add it and support it, but then I’ll present a counter argument to make the paper much stronger. So my rebuttal statement would be:
If blue was a sad color, then it would not be a popular color.
The conclusion is the easiest paragraph to write because you are just restating what you already wrote. Reword all the key elements or topic sentences to refresh the reader’s memory. Then you’ll end the conclusion with some refreshing statement that ties the paper together and leaves the reader with a satisfying experience.
And that is the basic formula. You start with a topic, then you brainstorm to generate a thesis, you draw out at least three body paragraphs from you knowledge and research, finally add a conclusion, and you got yourself an award-winning essay. This is a great start for beginning writers, but there is always more than one way to achieve a goal. If you have a different set of rules up your sleeve, please share your knowledge and add your thoughts to the comments section below.
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