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Tonight I met with one of my students, who is in 6th grade, and we are working together to tackle proper essay structure.    This can be a tough issue for students, especially the really creative ones. These are the students that are FULL of ideas, and all of them are equally good, so why can't they just put them all into one essay or story? Trust me, it's not easy to kill your darlings, but it must be done (until you get a blog, of course).    In general, all essays, or even stories should be structured in a similar fashion: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Or, a beginning, a middle, and an end.    The introduction will include the visuals, the details to get the reader completely hooked into the story. If this is an analytical essay, the introduction will include the argument, or the point you're trying to prove.    Next comes the body, or the middle of the essay/story. This will typically be the longest... read more

Everyone has their own approach to writing. Some writers are very methodical throughout the entire writing process while others write freely and revise their way to the final draft. For proposals and admissions essays, a structured writing process draws from the strengths of both approaches. It starts with a creative focus and concludes with deliberate writing and revision. First, with the requirements and prompt in mind, the writer lets him or herself write and think freely. Second, the writer reviews his or her own notes and ideas to identify a cohesive focal point. Next, the writer distills the ideas into a concrete thesis and engages peers, friends, family, and instructors to develop and strengthen the arguments. Finally, the writer lays out the elements that support the thesis and backs it with specific examples or anecdotes. Creative Stage. In this stage, the writer thinks and writes freely but not chaotically. It starts with a careful review of the requirements laid... read more

Have you ever received a graded essay handed back with the phrase, "Needs more structure," or "structure needs work?"   Creating a structure for any written word, whether it is poem, essay, news brief, or novel, is an integral part of the message you intend to convey. Using long, convoluted sentences as means to convince the reader that your argument is very simple will usually only give the opposite impression; simple arguments are best conveyed with short, simple sentences. (For example, the opposite is true in Jonathan Swift's essay, "A Modest Proposal," in which he uses didactic and complex language in an effort to "convince" the people of England that the solution to their hunger and poverty problem is to eat their starving infant children; his complex sentences reflect the sarcastic and satiric nature of his essay, reflecting that he does not see cannibalism as a real solution.)   Structure also helps you keep... read more

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