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THE ESSAY

Important Elements in The Essay

There are three main areas you need to consider when writing an essay. You need to evaluate your (1) focus, (2) content and (3) organization. While each of the three has its own vitality, the trinity is inseparable.

First, your essay must have a purpose, which has clearly defined and effectively communicated. This is the focus of your essay. Your essay must fulfill the requirements for the purpose it is trying to accomplish. In addition, your work must be well balanced; you should neither do too much in the essay, nor mark your goals too limited and inconsequential. Also, the needs, interests and expectations of your readers should be considered and met.

 Besides focus, content is an essential part if your essay. Considering your controlling purpose, you ought to discover whether there is adequate support and whether your essay development fulfills the commitment started or implied by the controlling purpose. What supporting details or evidence you have provided and how adequate they are is equally important. All your details, evidence, or counter arguments should not only relate clearly to your controlling purpose, but should have the purpose of strengthening the essay.

 Both the focus and content are strengthened and enhanced by the organization of the essay, which must follow an overall organization strategy. You may want to test the effectiveness of such strategy by outlining or summarizing your essay. The organization of your essay must follow logically the commitment established by your controlling purpose. You must insure that your readers will be able to follow the organization and easily make sense of it. Furthermore, you should ask yourself whether or not your introduction and your conclusion could more effectively open and close your essay.

 After all of the above has been observed; now you ought to consider such things as grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure and mechanics. Despite its importance, grammar is often ignored in the writing classes. It is the student's responsibility to acquire the grammatical skills necessary to succeed in a writing class.


 Evaluating focus, content & organization:

Focus:
 
1- What do I hope to accomplish in this essay? How clearly have I defined my controlling purpose? How have I communicated this controlling purpose?
2- is my essay appropriate? If it is an academic essay, how does it fulfill the requirements of the assignment?
3- Have I tried to do too much in the essay? Or are my goals too limited and inconsequent?
4- does my essay considers the needs, interests, and expectations of my readers? How does the essay respond to them? 
Content:
1- how does my essay develop or support my controlling purpose? How does it fulfill the commitment stated or implied by the controlling purpose?
2- what supporting details or evidence have I provided for my most important generalizations? Are these supporting details and evidence adequate? Do they relate clearly to my controlling purpose each other?
3- what details, evidence, or counter arguments might strengthen my essay?
4- have I included any materials that are irrelevant to my controlling purpose?
Organization:
1- what overall organization strategy my essay follows?
2- Have I tested the effectiveness of this strategy by outlining or summarizing my essay?
3- to what extent does the organization of my essay flow logically from the commitment established by my controlling purpose?
4- will my organization make sense to my readers and be easy for them to follow?
5- to what extent does my essay follow the general conventions appropriate for this kind of writing?
6- could my introduction and conclusion be more effectively open and close my essay?
 After all the above, now consider such things as grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure, etc.…

Consider the following:

Read the following paragraph and notice the writer's attempt to make his point as clear as possible to the readers.

The Hazards of Going to the Movies 
"Although I love movies, going to see them drives me crazy.  First, getting to the movie can take a lot of time.  I have a thirty-five minute drive down a congested highway.  Then with a popular film, I usually have to wait in a long line at the ticket window.  Another problem is that the theater itself is seldom a pleasant place to be.  A musty smell suggests that there has been no fresh air in the theater since it was built.  Half the seats seem to be falling apart.  And the floor often has a sticky coating that gets on your shoes.  The worst problem of all is some of the other moviegoers.  Kids run up and down the aisle.  Teenagers laugh and shout at the screen. People of all ages loudly drop soda cups and popcorn tubs, cough and burp, and elbow you out of the armrest on either side of your seat.  All in all, I would rather stay home and wait for the latest movie hits to appear on TV in the safety and comfort of my own living room."

 In considering the above paragraph we may notice that the writer's point of disliking going to the movies is backed up with specific reasons and details. The evidence and supporting details here provide the reader with a basis for understanding why the writer thinks and feels the way he does.

 Now, try this:

On a separate paper, write the point the writer is making in the paragraph above. Then, under the point write the three supporting evidence he provided.  Under each supporting idea, write the details he mentioned.

 Note that the point in a paragraph is normally referred to as a topic sentence.  A topic sentence is the one that includes the main idea of a paragraph.  Although a topic sentence may be at the beginning, middle or end of a paragraph, for our purpose we will try to always write it at the beginning of the paragraph.

Activity:

Think of things that you like or dislike, or think of some opinions that you have.  Write a strong sentence indicating this one thing that you like or dislike or an opinion. Then think of at least three reasons why you like or dislike that thing or why your opinion is as such.  Then, think of details that support each reason.

 For example,
Idea:    Going to Disneyland
Feeling:  Dislike
Sentence:  Disneyland is one of my least favorite places to visit.
Support:
1- Disneyland is expensive
2- waiting in long lines
3- terrible food and drinks 
Details:
1- Disneyland is expensive    
A- admission is more than $30.00    
B- food and drinks are too expensive
C- souvenirs are too expensive 
2- waiting in long lines  
A- waiting in lines to get tickets    
B- waiting in lines to get on rides    
C- waiting in lines to buy food or drinks
3- terrible food    
A- very few choices    
B- food is stale    
C- drinks are tasteless     
Now you try it.  It is fun.

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