Writing to the Point An Exercise in Structure and Logic
Step One:(Label each step as you proceed) • Write a simple declarative sentence that makes one statement; not a question or a command, but a simple statement. Use this formula: • Someone is/ does something • Something does/ did something • Examples: • The Empire State building is tall. • The Empire State building is one of New York’s oldest. • Bill was a janitor. • Bill cleaned up a spilled milkshake. • Bill had an important influence on my life.
Step Two: Next, write three sentences about Step One’s sentence -- clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. Examples: Because the Empire State building is tall, people used to leap from it. People take a lot of photos of the building because it’s so unique. Bill taught me how to clean up milkshakes. Bill showed me how much fun cleaning up milkshakes can really be.
Step Three Write five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2 -- clearly and directly about the whole of each Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. With each sentence, don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Just say more about what you have just said. The idea here is to say a little about a lot, not a lot about a little. Use transitions to make your ideas extend from one sentence to the next, to show the relationships between ideas. Use key transition words such as: Such as Because of Therefore But So However
Step Four: Pull out another sheet of paper. Divide your essay into three paragraphs, with the three sentences you created in Step 2 as topic sentences, and the simple declarative sentence in Step 1 as your thesis sentence. Next, plug in the five sentences you wrote for Step 3 under its topic sentence, which you created in step two: An outline will look like this:
Thesis: Declarative Sentence from Step 1 Topic Sentence: From Step 2 Five sentences from Step 3 Topic Sentence: From Step 2 Five sentences from Step 3 Topic Sentence: From Step 2 Five sentences from step 3 Remember to connect these sentences with clear transitions.
Step Five: In the first sentence of each new paragraph, starting with paragraph 2, insert a clear reference to the idea stated at the end of the last paragraph.
Step Six: Within each paragraph, make sure every sentence in your essay is connected with, and makes clear reference, to the sentence before it (by clear transition phrases and repetition of key words).
Step Seven: From the topic sentences of each of the three full paragraphs, plus the body content of the paragraphs, locate the common theme of your essay and compose a paragraph of conclusion which restates your main points (found in thesis and topic sentences).
Step Eight: Based on the topic sentences of the three paragraphs, rewrite your thesis sentence as an organizing statement that will show the reader what to expect in your essay. Place the thesis at the end of the first paragraph of your essay. Next, write a general opening which leads into your thesis statement; two or three sentences of general, background information that logically lead into the specifics of your thesis statement.
Clean up any minor details, and you should now have a complete, fully structured essay. It may not be content-rich, but it should be well-structured. Hand in the final draft of your essay.