Essay One Part 1: Writing the Thesis
Objectives:What You Should Know After Having Written this Essay • How to write a thesis sentence that organizes the essay’s main points; • How to write a title and introduction that will engage the reader’s interest; • How to construct body paragraphs that are focused and well developed; • How to write a conclusion that emphasizes the essay’s main point.
Thesis Sentence • Definition: a single sentence that states the essay’s main point; • It tells the subject of the essay; • It expresses the writer’s opinion about the subject; • It previews the main points of the essay.
Here’s the Topic for Essay One: No matter why you’re in college, all of you have a similar goal—to become more educated. Sometimes we think of education as a means towards wisdom, but it’s also true that education is no predictor of wisdom, that often the wisest people we know have no formal schooling. Therefore, thinking of the people you know who are wise, who exhibit wisdom, write an essay where you define wisdom by breaking it down into qualities that a wise person must possess.
Writing the Thesis Sentence: Do it first, before you begin the essay • Determine what the prompt is asking you to do— • Define wisdom • To define something, you can • List its characteristics • Tell what it’s not
List Characteristics Joyful Intellectuallycurious humble A wise person is. . . Compassionate Open-minded honest Empathetic For more brainstorming techniques, see http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/brainstorming.html
Tell what it’s not • A wise person is not • Necessarily book-smart • One who knows everything • Arrogant or condescending • Someone who imposes his will on others • Necessarily the smartest person in the room • Necessarily the richest or most successful person in the room
Once you have a reasonable number of characteristics listed • Choose three or four and write a sentence, listing them in order of importance
Sample Theses • A wise person isn’t a know-it-all, but rather someone who is curious about and receptive to new ideas and experiences. • Wisdom is the willingness to admit ignorance and the determination to acquire knowledge and use it well. • A wise person is good humored, compassionate, and kind.
Each of these thesis sentences previews the main points of the essay (each main point is adifferentcolor) • A wise person isn’t a know-it-all, but rather someone who is curiousaboutand receptive to new ideas and experiences. • Wisdom is the willingness to admit ignorance and the determination to acquire knowledge and use it well. • A wise person is good humored, compassionate, and kind.
Assignment 1.1: • Go to Blackboard and free write for ten minutes on the following question: “What is wisdom?” • How to free write: set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and start it; • Keep writing until the timer goes off—don’t stop for anything • If you run out of something to say, just repeat the last word you typed till you think of something new; • Don’t worry about proofreading for spelling or grammar; • Don’t THINK, just WRITE! • After you’ve free-written, write your thesis and send it to me • Take a look at what your classmates post—sometimes it helps give you ideas for your own writing.
The thesis should be • A clear, simple sentence • that clearly states the three (no more than four points) you’re planning to develop in the paragraphs of your essay; • Once you have a working thesis, you’re ready to begin composing the first essay.
Essay One Part 2: Title and Introductions
Once you have a thesis, then • You can draft the title and • The introduction; • Please Note: Titles and intros are the most rewritten parts of most essays. Don’t be afraid to revise back as you write forward on the essay.
The Title of the Essay • All essays need a title; • The title should do three things: • It should indicate the essay’s subject; • It should reflect the essay’s thesis; • And it should attempt to capture the reader’s interest.
Examples of Titles: • “Our Walls, Ourselves” • National Geographic, article about the barriers between the U.S. and Mexico • “Bulldog Ants” • National Geographic, article about Australian ants • “Seekers, Finders,” • O, The Oprah Magazine– Where does faith come from? • “The Meaning of Life” • The New Yorker—what a game taught us • “Writing the Climate” • The Austin Chronicle—the accelerating pace of global warming • “Boots and Suits, Scheming and Dreaming” • The Austin Chronicle—The Wilson brothers on The Wendell Baker Story
Writing the Introduction • An introduction should have three parts: • A lead-in, whose purpose is to capture the reader’s attention; • A transition section, which logically links the lead-in to the thesis; • And a thesis sentence that previews the main points of the essay.
You don’t have to write the introduction first. You can start with the thesis sentence and then come back to the introduction after you’ve written some of the essay and actually know what you’re introducing
Let’s go through the parts of the intro • The Lead-In • Its purpose is to capture the attention of the reader; • It should be one of the strongest, most polished (most rewritten and tweaked) parts of your entire essay; • Remember. . .
You don’t get a second chance to make a FIRST impression You can use anything you want for a lead-in; if the technique you’re using would genuinely interest you, would genuinely make you want to read your own essay, then it will probably do the same for anybody else.
Anecdote Tell a relevant story Quotation You can quote from someone famous or someone you know Description Describe a scene, event, person or thing Startling Statement Say something unexpected Contradiction Start off with some variation of the following sentence: “Most people believe A, but actually. . .” Question Just make sure it’s a question your reader would really ask Analogy Compare the point you’re going to make with something the reader can relate to Facts or Statistics Just make sure they’re interesting Allusion Make a reference to something in literature, history or popular culture—something your reader will know about and relate to Here are some lead-in techniques you can use:
Transition • If the purpose of the lead-in is primarily to gain the reader’s attention, • The purpose of the transition is to prepare the reader for the point the writer makes in the thesis. • The connection between the two must be logical and seamless
Thesis • The last sentence of the introduction is the thesis sentence • The thesis should preview the main points of the essay; • It provides a logical roadmap to guide the reader through the essay.
Think of the thesis as a road map and each point of the thesis as means of getting to the destination. Conclusion:Dallas Thesis: To get from El Paso to Dallas, a travelermust go throughOdessa, Midland And Fort Worth. Body Paragraph 3:Fort Worth Body Paragraph 2:Midland Body Paragraph 1:Odessa
Assignment 1.2 • Send me a draft of your title and your introductory paragraph; • The introduction should have a clear • Lead-in • Transition • Thesis • It should be between one-half and three-quarters of a page long. • Proofread!!! • Then post your intro on Blackboard and read your classmates’.
Essay One Part 3:The Body Paragraph
All body paragraphs have four parts: • Topic sentence • Explanation of topic sentence • Example • Warrant
Topic Sentence • The topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph; • It tells the subject of that paragraph; • It expresses the writer’s opinion about the subject; • It echoes a point already made in the thesis sentence.
For example, • If we use the thesis sentence, Wise people are even-handed, open-minded and ultimately compassionate • Then the topic sentence for the first body paragraph is Wise people are generally even-handed. • The topic sentence for the second body paragraph would be In addition, they tend to be open-minded. • The topic sentence for the third body paragraph might be These two qualities contribute to the third characteristic—a general compassion for other people.
Explanation of Topic Sentence • Since every topic sentence expresses an opinion, • it’s up to you, the writer, to clarify what you mean by your opinion; • thus, following the topic sentence, you should use several sentences to explain what you mean.
Example • Up until now, you’ve only expressed opinion—you have to prove your point with an EXAMPLE; • An example is something from the real world (a story, a description, a fact) that illustrates the truth of your topic sentence; • A good example SHOWS rather than TELLS.
Notes about examples • Good examples are the longest part of the paragraph; • They are specific—particular people doing specific things at a specific time; • They make the reader SEE what you mean. • Don’t be afraid to stretch out in your examples with detail and dialogue.
Warrant • The warrant is the conclusion to the paragraph. • It explains your point. • To write the warrant, imagine that someone has asked you, “So what?” and then answer that question.
You’ll repeat the same pattern with the next two body paragraphs • Topic sentence • Explain the topic sentence • Example • Warrant
Assignment 1.3 • In addition to sending me a draft of your title and introduction, • Also send me a draft of your first body paragraph. • I will send it back by the next day with comments and suggestions. • Post the body paragraph on Blackboard and read your classmates’.
Essay One Part 4 Writing the Conclusion
A conclusion does three things: • It loops back to the lead-in • It briefly summarizes your main points • It warrants your thesis
Loop back to your lead-in • Whatever you did in the introduction to capture your reader’s attention, • mention it at the beginning of the conclusion to signal that the paper is ending
Briefly summarize your main points • I haven’t had time to forget your main points because your paper isn’t that long, • So there’s no reason to spend a full paragraph telling me again what you just told me in the body paragraphs. • Give me just a brief summary—one sentence or less!
Warrant your thesis • The most important part of the conclusion is where you draw a conclusion— • Tell the reader what your main point is • Imagine the reader has finished your essay and then asked you, “So what?” • You need to have an answer ready.
Loop backto lead-in Brief summary Warrant
Final Assignment • Your final essay is due by midnight, Sunday, June 10th. • It should contain • A title • A well-developed, 3-part intro • At least three body paragraphs, with each body paragraph containing • A topic sentence • Sentences that explain the topic sentence • Example • Warrant • A three-part conclusion
After you send me your essay as an email file attachment, • Post it on Blackboard and read what your classmates have posted. • Good luck and I’ll be in touch this week with extra help.