“Help Me Out Man I Suck At Essays.”

About a week ago a good friend of mine messaged me on Facebook and asked if I could proofread an essay he had written for an Intro college course. Now I don’t profess myself as an expert on proofreading but I would say I have a talent for it. After reading through his essay, or rather, attempting to read through his essay, I came to the conclusion that in order to fix it I would have to rewrite the entire thing. As this would defeat the purpose of his assignment I told my friend that I couldn’t proofread it. This made me feel bad, as I did want to help him, but I didn’t have the time to do the extensive editing his essay needed for a decent grade. I have been faced with similar problems in the past when proofreading friend’s papers. It seems to me that a large portion of high-schools and colleges haven’t done enough to teach students how to write a basic essay. Like I said earlier, I am no expert on the subject, but I can at least lay out the basics. I made this model specifically for non- English Majors who aren’t required to write many essays as part of their coursework, but may have to take a class with an essay in the curriculum. Please feel free to use it to your convenience, and shoot me an email if you think there are elements I could make more clear.

Basic Essay Structure

Intro:

Introduce the Author, his year of birth, the publication date of the work you are discussing, and a general overview of the content you will discuss in its relation to the work. Usually helps to identify X number of points you are going to discuss, which I will outline as follows.

“In his novel, the author raises three specific terms for his argument: X, Y and Z.”

Obviously you may have more than three points in your argument. The structure laid out as follows is stackable, so you can simply add more points on and warp the model to your needs.

Keep personal opinion to yourself unless it is explicitly stated in the instructions of your essay to include opinion.

 Body X:

         Note: A body does not mean 1 paragraph. It is simply to separate the points of your argument. A body can be as long as it takes to get your point across.

1: Introduce Topic X, avoid referencing the other points as they have yet to be discussed. The first point should be the most basic or the point that you don’t have much to expand on alone. In some cases, any of the points will work first because they all build on each other regardless of their order.

2: Use examples from the work and reference the author as the thinker behind the points.

3: Avoid getting side-tracked. If you think of new ways to explore the material, make sure it fits in Body X. If it doesn’t, work it in at a later point in the essay

4: Leave on a point in Topic X that works as a transition into Topic Y. Can be as simple as sharing a component, a similarity in nomenclature, or even a contrasting element between the two.

Keep personal opinion to yourself unless it is explicitly stated in the instructions of your essay to include opinion.

 Body Y or Body Y +X:

1: Continue by expanding on Topic Y, possibly drawing elements from X for comparison or in contrast.

2: Remember not to drift off into Topic Z or get drawn back into Topic X. Every Topic gets the spotlight, but the others may be needed for clarity. Think of them as salt, just don’t use too much.

Keep personal opinion to yourself unless it is explicitly stated in the instructions of your essay to include opinion.

 Body Z, or Body Z + Y (+X):

1: This is a paragraph for Topic Z. Y is welcome to an extent and so is X, but balance the two as best you can. Avoid oversaturation of either. If one works better to articulate your point, use it. If one only muddles your point, use restraint. A good contrast can clarify a point just as well as a good comparison. Keep that in mind.

Keep personal opinion to yourself unless it is explicitly stated in the instructions of your essay to include opinion.

Conclusion:

1: Wrap things up. Sum up the points you made in the previous paragraphs.

2: If you have been told to express opinion at the end you may do so. An essay will would require

a) Extensive opinion

b) No opinion

c) Opinion reserved for your conclusion

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s