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Quill PenTips for Writers by Brad

April 18, 2003

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Questions and Answers on the Essay

The Advanced Composition classes have been working on essay structures. Here are some of their question. My comments are in italics.

How do we end an essay? We write a conclusion paragraph. The conclusion "mirrors" the introduction (this is one technique).

How do I divide the paragraphs for a 500-word essay? Use 125 word body paragraphs (3 X 125 = 375) For both the introduction and conclusion you have the remaining 125 (62.5 words for each; should be in approximate balance)

If one body is a bit shorter where should it go? In the middle, like a sandwich. Usually a shorter body has fewer examples and thus is a bit weaker.

If one body paragraph is my best and strongest where should it go? In the last position is best and strongest. The second best should be the first body.

At what time do I write my best topic? Usually, I write it first, but I shouldn't put my best topic first. I should put it last in order to impress my reader/teacher.

What are some good phrases to use to begin your conclusion? In summary; therefore; so; thus; to conclude; in a word. Misused: "on the other hand" is a contrasting second opinion about your topic.

What is a way of joining together the ideas in your body paragraphs? There are techniques for this that work well and are fairly easy to learn. One is called the Paragraph "Hook" (See example below)

Body 1 topic sentence: Rhyme is one of the things we learned in English 10.

Body 2 topic sentence: In addition to rhyme, I also learned about alliteration and how it works.

The Lively Art of Writing is the book where this technique was originally discussed by Lucille Vaughn Payne.

May I use questions in the concluding paragraph? In my opinion, one good question could be useful. A series of questions may be annoying.

Do you people really write this way (in standard essay style)? Is the standard essay written by good writers and so on? Often, no! BUT, to play piano well, you practice scales for hours; to write essay well, you perfect the practice essay.


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