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The Five Paragraph Essay

A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions. An essay has been defined in a variety of ways. One definition is a "prose composition with a focused subject of discussion" or a "long, systematic discourse". Aldous Huxley , a leading essayist, gives guidance on the subject.

Furthermore, Huxley argues that "essays belong to a literary species whose extreme variability can be studied most effectively within a three-poled frame of reference". These three poles or worlds in which the essay may exist are:. Huxley adds that the most satisfying essays " The word essay derives from the French infinitive essayer , "to try" or "to attempt".

In English essay first meant "a trial" or "an attempt", and this is still an alternative meaning. The Frenchman Michel de Montaigne — was the first author to describe his work as essays; he used the term to characterize these as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing, and his essays grew out of his commonplacing.

For the rest of his life, he continued revising previously published essays and composing new ones. Francis Bacon 's essays , published in book form in , , and , were the first works in English that described themselves as essays. Ben Jonson first used the word essayist in English in , according to the Oxford English Dictionary. In France, Michel de Montaigne 's three volume Essais in the mid s contain over examples widely regarded as the predecessor of the modern essay. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Edmund Burke and Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote essays for the general public.

The early 19th century, in particular, saw a proliferation of great essayists in English — William Hazlitt , Charles Lamb , Leigh Hunt and Thomas de Quincey all penned numerous essays on diverse subjects.

In the 20th century, a number of essayists tried to explain the new movements in art and culture by using essays e. Whereas some essayists used essays for strident political themes, Robert Louis Stevenson and Willa Cather wrote lighter essays. As with the novel , essays existed in Japan several centuries before they developed in Europe with a genre of essays known as zuihitsu — loosely connected essays and fragmented ideas.

Zuihitsu have existed since almost the beginnings of Japanese literature. Many of the most noted early works of Japanese literature are in this genre. Notable examples include The Pillow Book c. Another noteworthy difference from Europe is that women have traditionally written in Japan, though the more formal, Chinese-influenced writings of male writers were more prized at the time.

This section describes the different forms and styles of essay writing. These forms and styles are used by an array of authors, including university students and professional essayists. The defining features of a "cause and effect" essay are causal chains that connect from a cause to an effect, careful language, and chronological or emphatic order. A writer using this rhetorical method must consider the subject , determine the purpose , consider the audience , think critically about different causes or consequences, consider a thesis statement, arrange the parts, consider the language , and decide on a conclusion.

Classification is the categorization of objects into a larger whole while division is the breaking of a larger whole into smaller parts. Compare and contrast essays are characterized by a basis for comparison, points of comparison, and analogies.

It is grouped by the object chunking or by point sequential. The comparison highlights the similarities between two or more similar objects while contrasting highlights the differences between two or more objects. Compare and contrast is arranged emphatically. Descriptive writing is characterized by sensory details, which appeal to the physical senses, and details that appeal to a reader's emotional, physical, or intellectual sensibilities.

Determining the purpose, considering the audience, creating a dominant impression, using descriptive language, and organizing the description are the rhetorical choices to consider when using a description. A description is usually arranged spatially but can also be chronological or emphatic. The focus of a description is the scene. Description uses tools such as denotative language, connotative language, figurative language , metaphor , and simile to arrive at a dominant impression.

In the dialectic form of the essay, which is commonly used in philosophy , the writer makes a thesis and argument, then objects to their own argument with a counterargument , but then counters the counterargument with a final and novel argument. This form benefits from presenting a broader perspective while countering a possible flaw that some may present. This type is sometimes called an ethics paper. An exemplification essay is characterized by a generalization and relevant, representative, and believable examples including anecdotes.

Writers need to consider their subject, determine their purpose, consider their audience, decide on specific examples, and arrange all the parts together when writing an exemplification essay. An essayist writes a familiar essay if speaking to a single reader, writing about both themselves, and about particular subjects. Anne Fadiman notes that "the genre's heyday was the early nineteenth century," and that its greatest exponent was Charles Lamb. A history essay sometimes referred to as a thesis essay describes an argument or claim about one or more historical events and supports that claim with evidence, arguments, and references.

The text makes it clear to the reader why the argument or claim is as such. A narrative uses tools such as flashbacks , flash-forwards , and transitions that often build to a climax.

The focus of a narrative is the plot. When creating a narrative, authors must determine their purpose, consider their audience, establish their point of view, use dialogue, and organize the narrative.

A narrative is usually arranged chronologically. An argumentative essay is a critical piece of writing, aimed at presenting objective analysis of the subject matter, narrowed down to a single topic. The main idea of all the criticism is to provide an opinion either of positive or negative implication. As such, a critical essay requires research and analysis, strong internal logic and sharp structure. Its structure normally builds around introduction with a topic's relevance and a thesis statement , body paragraphs with arguments linking back to the main thesis, and conclusion.

In addition, an argumentative essay may include a refutation section where conflicting ideas are acknowledged, described, and criticized. Each argument of argumentative essay should be supported with sufficient evidence, relevant to the point.

An economic essay can start with a thesis, or it can start with a theme. It can take a narrative course and a descriptive course. It can even become an argumentative essay if the author feels the need. If the essay takes more of a narrative form then the author has to expose each aspect of the economic puzzle in a way that makes it clear and understandable for the reader. A reflective essay is an analytical piece of writing in which the writer describes a real or imaginary scene, event, interaction, passing thought, memory, or form — adding a personal reflection on the meaning of the topic in the author's life.

Thus, the focus is not merely descriptive. The logical progression and organizational structure of an essay can take many forms. Understanding how the movement of thought is managed through an essay has a profound impact on its overall cogency and ability to impress. A number of alternative logical structures for essays have been visualized as diagrams, making them easy to implement or adapt in the construction of an argument. In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom , essays have become a major part of a formal education in the form of free response questions.

Secondary students in these countries are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills, and essays are often used by universities in these countries in selecting applicants see admissions essay. In both secondary and tertiary education, essays are used to judge the mastery and comprehension of the material.

Students are asked to explain, comment on, or assess a topic of study in the form of an essay. In some courses, university students must complete one or more essays over several weeks or months. In addition, in fields such as the humanities and social sciences, [ citation needed ] mid-term and end of term examinations often require students to write a short essay in two or three hours. In these countries, so-called academic essays also called papers , are usually more formal than literary ones.

Longer academic essays often with a word limit of between 2, and 5, words [ citation needed ] are often more discursive. They sometimes begin with a short summary analysis of what has previously been written on a topic, which is often called a literature review. Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic.

Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other supporting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text.

This scholarly convention helps others whether teachers or fellow scholars to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence.

The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities. A thesis statement summarizes the main argument or position of your essay in one sentence. It lets readers know what the essay will attempt to show or prove. Everything in your essay should be connected to your thesis in a straightforward way. Place your thesis at the end of your first paragraph.

If you don't understand how to write a thesis, ask your instructor for help. This is an important concept that will keep coming up in courses where you have to write papers. Once you have a compelling thesis statement, craft the rest of your introduction around it. You can also save this step for after you've drafted the body of your essay if you feel intimidated by the introduction. The best introductions "grab" the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.

Some effective strategies for creating an introduction include: Jot down an outline for the remainder of your essay. Outlining involves developing a basic structure for your essay, which can help you stay on track while writing drafts. Look over your notes and invention exercises and think about how you can organize this information in an outline. Think about what information should come first, second, third, etc.

Just try to get the major ideas on paper. Collect all of your notes and materials. Before you start to write, gather together all of the notes, books, and other materials that you will need to reference in order to answer the essay prompt effectively.

Support is essential for an effective English essay, so do not try to write your essay without these materials. If you have time, read through your notes before you begin. Make sure that you have your outline handy as well. You can build on your outline by expanding on each of the points in the order that they are listed in.

Include topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph. Topic sentences signal to readers what a paragraph will discuss. Start each of your paragraphs with a topic sentence so that your instructor will be able to see that your ideas progress in a clear, direct manner.

Develop your ideas as much as possible. Make sure that you include as many details as possible throughout your essay. Remember that padding filling in with meaningless text or using extra wordy sentences is not an effective strategy for writing essays because instructors can see right through it.

Your instructor has probably read hundreds of student essays over their career, so they'll know when an essay has been padded.

Fill your essays with details that make your essay useful and insightful instead. If you get stuck, some good strategies for developing your ideas include: Returning to the invention stage. This includes exercises such as freewriting, listing, or clustering.

You can also revisit your notes and books to see if there's anything you missed or forgot. You can find a writing lab on most college campuses. They are free to students and can help you improve your writing at any stage in the writing process. Talking to your instructor. Take advantage of your professor's office hours or one-on-one appointments. Meet with them and discuss ways that you can improve your essay before you hand it in.

Cite sources using MLA style citations. If you use any sources at all in your essay, then you will need to cite them using the style that your instructor prefers. MLA style is the most common citation format used in English courses, so you will need to know how to use it.

Provide in-text citations as well as a works cited page at the end. An MLA style works cited page starts on a new page at the end of the essay. Provide entries for each of the sources that you used.

These entries should include the information necessary to allow the reader to find the source with ease. It's necessary to include an in-text citation for any information that you quote, summarize, or paraphrase from a source.

Work towards a conclusion. The general structure of an essay usually goes from broad to specific. You could visualize this tendency as an upside-down pyramid or as a funnel. By the time you get to your conclusion, it should feel as though the information in your conclusion is inevitable. It's essentially a recap of everything you've spent your whole essay trying to prove. You may find that you want to use your conclusion to: Qualify or complicate the information in your essay Suggest a need for further research Speculate on how the future will change the current situation.

Give yourself plenty of time. Leaving your essay to the last minute is not a good idea. Try to allow yourself at least a couple of days to revise your work.

It is important to take a one to two day break from your essay after you have completed it. Then you can come back to it and revise with a fresh perspective. Focus on improving the content of your essay first. Some people only focus on the grammar and punctuation when revising an essay, but this is less important than the content of your essay. Answer the essay question in as much detail as possible. Reread the essay question or assignment guidelines and ask: Do I have a clear thesis?

Is my thesis the focus of my essay? Do I include adequate support for my argument? Is there anything else I could add? Is there a logic to my essay?

Does one idea follow the next? If not, how might I improve the logic of my essay? Ask a friend to read your essay. Having a friend or classmate take a look at your work can be helpful as well. Someone else may catch simple errors or notice something else that you missed because you have been looking at the document so much.

Make sure that you swap papers at least one day before the paper is due so that you will have time to correct any errors that your friend finds. Read your essay out loud. Reading your essay aloud can help you to catch simple errors that you might not have noticed otherwise. As you read, correct any errors that you find and make a note of anything that you think could be improved, such as adding more details or clarifying the language.

Analyze the topic or essay question. Take time to read over the essay question or guidelines and think about what the assignment is asking you to do. You should underline any keywords such as describe, compare, contrast, explain, argue, or propose. You should also underline any central themes or ideas that the assignment asks you to discuss such as freedom, family, defeat, love, etc. It's important to have a clear idea of what they want before you start working on the assignment.

A well-detailed answer that satisfies the assignment requirements A clear and direct piece of writing that is easy to follow A polished paper with no minor errors, such as typos or misspellings.

Think about what you will need to include. Consider what you will need to include in your essay. For example, if you are tasked with writing about a character in a book, then you will need to provide lots of details about that character.

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