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English 10: Class Notes  May 2, 2001

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This week, the students worked to define the essay and then give practical advice on its parts. The results from the two classes are combined below.

Title

Simple and short so it is understood quickly.
Specific and clear. Specifically connected to the essayís main ideas.
Short and interesting. My Garden. My Gardening Skill. A Gardening Failure.

Short, interesting, and fancy. Short phrase, not sentence. Clear and concise. (condensed, like soup) Attractive, to make the reader want to read the essay. Capitalize all words except the small words (a, the, an, for and so on). Or, capitalize the whole word. A topic is not a title! A title should be an honest label of the contents of your particular essay.

Write the title as your last job.

Introduction

Not too general and not too narrow compared to the body paragraphs.

Should contain a thesis sentence that conveys the main, controlling idea of the essay and is generally found at the final position.

Donít give away too much. Save the details for the body.

Introductions are general compared to the ideas in the essay, but related directly to the ideas in the essay. Donít give away too much.

Put a thesis statement in the paragraph. This is the most important sentence of your whole essay and needs to be the most carefully written. Thesis is the essay topic sentence.

Body paragraphs (3)

Examples, descriptions, and details are needed. Should contain a concluding sentence

Topic sentences are strongly related by idea to the concluding sentence. 

Put your second best paragraph first. Put your best paragraph last. Put your weakest in the middle.

The body supports the thesis and gives examples that support the thesis. The body is the meat of the sandwich. Body paragraphs are standard design paragraphs: topic sentence, detailed examples, and a concluding sentence. Make it easy for the reader to follow you from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph (transitions). Keep to one topic in one paragraph. Each of these topics relates directly to the thesis.

Conclusion

Conclusion is approximately the same size as the introduction.

Often contains a final opinion or prediction related to the topic. 

Concludes or summarizes the body ideas without exactly repeating them.

Restate your thesis as the first sentence of the conclusion. At the very end you could give a suggestion, give an opinion, make a prediction and so on. Summarize the ideas of the body, without repeating everything point-by-point.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

Lots of useless sentences. 
Use only sufficient sentences to convey the ideas. Be careful of unnecessary repetition.

I have no ideas! 
Take more time to think. Go for a walk! Read more; experience more; know more. Be curious about everything.

Missing ideas in the conclusion sentence. 
Check it again to be sure.

How to start? 
Always a problem. Write whatever comes into your head in the first draft. Write the whole essay as a single, huge paragraph. Break all the rules! The structure can be adjusted later and repeatedly.

Organizing all this stuff is difficult. 
So, donít try to be too organized at the beginning: brainstorm or write ideas down or write vocabulary or write a huge long paragraph without any breaks. Donít try to write a fully formed essay from scratch.

Sentence structures inside the body paragraphs can be difficult. 
For any sentence or idea, many ways exist to express it. Try a few!

 

 

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