Awesome Tips for the Five-Paragraph Essay
The key guidance from creativity research this time is “Be Flexible.” Start writing in the middle by listing three topics for each of the body paragraphs. Then see if you can come up with three supporting details for each of these topics. If this is not possible, then consider another writing prompt if your school gives you a choice of writing prompts. However, your school may only offer one prompt. If you’re stumped, don’t panic; stay calm because test-makers make writing prompts that are grade appropriate.
The body paragraphs have to be several sentences in length. Be informative. If you prefer a cluster chart to outline, draw three little circles with lines branching out of a big circle.
Let’s look at the introduction. Write an attention-grabber. An attention grabber is an interesting point about the topic. It is more entertaining than informative or persuasive-the three purposes of writing, according to John Langan–the godfather of Developmental English/Writing and Reading. Making a good first impression is important in writing just like everywhere else. Your introductory paragraph should be at least three to four sentences.
Come up with some general statements before writing the thesis statement-probably the toughest sentence in the whole essay because of its formulaic nature in five-paragraph essays. You may want to leave your paper blank for a couple of lines between the end of the introduction and the start of the first body paragraph, and write a thesis statement later. Make sure you write introduction and conclusion paragraphs, and don’t just turn in body paragraphs and little else.
Let’s start the conclusion. This time you have some information to work with by looking at the start of the intro and body paragraphs. Remember to offer a summary and recommendation in the conclusion but no new info. A good way to work a recommendation into an essay is by using an, “If…, then…” statement. Such a statement would be more persuasive than informative or entertaining.
Now it’s time for that rough-and-tough thesis statement. Remember that you need to use parallel structure to cite a little from each of the three body paragraphs. There is a wide variety of grammatical structures that you could use, like noun + adjective, gerund + object, verb + object and more.
Back to the conclusion: Let us write that summary statement(s). It can be more general and does not need the sophisticated parallel structure of the thesis statement. Maybe you could get your point across in a couple of sentences. Like the intro paragraph, the conclusion paragraph should be three to four sentences. View the conclusion as a review of the essay outline’s main points.
Write on every other line or two out of three lines. Now is the time for fluency or get as many ideas on paper as possible. Extroverts or folks very familiar with their topic may reach this stage before going through all the steps listed in the outline. Introverts, or those finding a tough choice of essay prompts, need to use their outline extensively. Check this website for applications of Psychological Type Theory (like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter) to writing.
Number your sentences, but start over when you reach a new paragraph. Write this little number in a circle or parentheses. Numbering will keep you from writing droning, overly long paragraphs-something more of an issue in later English classes. On the other hand, numbering will help you write enough sentences too. Furthermore, let’s say you want to insert an extra sentence. Draw an arrow between sentences and write on one of those blank lines of your rough draft. If you’re numbering your sentences, it will be easier to insert sentences; for example, maybe you will add a #3b to a paragraph. If you decide to “carve”: a new paragraph, then put that paragraph symbol that looks like a backwards “P” where you want it. This will be easier in more advanced writing classes when you don’t have to deal with the rigors of the thesis statement accounting for a few specific about each of the body paragraphs. While still in developmental, see if some of your long-windedness should go into the category of another body paragraph.
What is a quick way to see if you have enough words for your essay? Count your word total for the first three or four lines. . Then count the number of lines that you’ve written. Use whole lines and only count partial lines as the fraction that they are. Try to write more than the minimum. An essay that barely makes the minimum number of words needs to be well-done in all other areas, so don’t risk turning in a skimpy essay. Remember that 600 words is the maximum. EXAMPLE: 8.5 words/line x 18 lines = 153 words. Woops! At best, you’re only half done writing a 300-600 word essay.
Check your time: Let’s say you have 90 minutes to do an essay. Then you better be half-done after 45 minutes. If you have 45 minutes to do your essay, then you’d better be 1/3 finished after 15 minutes and so forth. This is one case where knowing your fractions will help you in English!
Proofread: A quick proofreading can reveal little mistakes like missing words. It happens to the best writers, especially in a timed situation that breeds nervousness. Ask yourself, “What’s my main grammar problem?” Maybe you have trouble with run-ons. If so, proofread with a beware of run-ons mind set.
Prewriting starts with flexible outlines and cluster charts in order to get started, so fluent rough drafts can kick in and get the job done. Start in the middle. See if you can write three supporting topics for your theme in phrase form. Then see if you can write three supporting details for each of them-also in phrase form. If you are stumped, don’t panic; stay calm and accept that this less than riveting writing prompt is grade appropriate.
Now you can turn to the introduction and conclusion. The key two sentences in the introduction are the entertaining attention-grabber and the rough-and-tough thesis statement. Feel free to do the latter one later. The two major sentences in the conclusion are the summary statement and the persuasive recommendation.
With all this scaffolding from the outline/cluster chart, you can now begin your rough draft far faster than if you had started at this point. Write every other line. That way you’ll be able to add sentences into plenty of blank space, so you a rough draft does not become an unsightly mess. Number the sentences to keep track of paragraph length. If you fear that you don’t have enough words for the essay (and 300 is the minimum), do the sample method of counting words per line and dividing by three then multiply that figure by the number of lines in the essay. Check your time throughout the essay. Save time to proofread in the end. Pass the class and take another composition or writing class. Remember these tips for any writing assignment whether essay question or long essay.