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Let's take a second to review
what we learned about orienting ourselves towards
a writing topic and the movement from general to specific, from Subject
to Question to Answer. Remember that identifying these three elements
(essentially the Subject, the Issue, and your Position or Thesis) is the
most important thing for you to focus on when you first look at the writing
prompt. The SUBJECT is broad like a category and is what everything is
about. The QUESTION is debatable and what people would disagree about,
or in the case of informational writing the QUESTION needs explanation.
The QUESTION is the focus for the paper. The ANSWER (or POSITION) will
be your opinion on the ISSUE, your ANSWER to the QUESTION of the essay.
Understanding the QUESTION (what the paper is about or what's being debated)
makes it easier for you to declare your POSITION (your THESIS). Also,
your whole essay will deal with that QUESTION or ISSUE, so knowing what
it is helps you maintain UNITY in your essay. For example, here is how
the subject--question--answer for an argument/persuasion essay:
Your ANSWER or position is really your THESIS. It is your assertion, your opinion, your point which you are going to focus on proving and supporting in the essay. We can simplify, then, what you are doing in this type of writing as:
Keep this always in the back of your mind: "My job is to make a point and support it."
"Effective writing (narration, description, exposition, and argumentation) depends more upon showing the known details that triggered the writer's point of view than upon telling the readers (however eloquently) what the point of view is." (see Making Inferences)
One question you may have is, "Well, how do I make my case? How shall I organize it? How shall I present my case to the jury?" Let's say you are a good lawyer and you work hard to find lots of evidence to support your claim that the defendant is GUILTY. You have documents, expert reports, eye witness testimony, and various objects with finger prints and blood stains. Your brief case is bursting with all this evidence.
As many of you may know from courtroom experience, whether you win a trial doesn't always have to do so much with the excellence of your evidence or the justice of your position, but upon how you make your case. Would you walk up to the jury with your satchel full of evidence, look the jury in the eye, and then announce, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. The defendant is guilty. See for yourself!" as you dump the entire contents of your brief case on the table in front of the jury? Of course not, but that is often what writers do when they don't work to organize the presentation of their support to the reader.
We are talking here about
the BODY of the essay. Inside the BODY of the essay where you will be
supporting the POINT or THESIS of the essay, how will you organize and
present your support? One answer to this question is to "DIVIDE UP
Dividing up the proof, then, will define your body paragraphs and help you know when to begin a new paragraph: each paragraph in the body of the essay will contain one main support for your point. Paragraphs spacially signify the key parts of your support. In the case of an argument/persuasion essay, these main supports would be REASONS. That means each body paragraph will present one main REASON for why you believe your thesis (or position on the issue). A Process Analysis essay might be organized by key steps or phases in the process. A Cause and Effect essay might "divide up the proof" by devoting a separate paragraph to each main cause or each main effect.
Typically, in shorter papers of two to seven pages, you should not start a new paragraph until you have fully dealt with a main support. When you get into writing longer essays, you may develop main supports in multiple paragraph sections; however, the sections of support are still grouped together.
Other Considerations for Organization
While dividing up the proof by putting one main support per body paragraph will help your reader see the key supports for your thesis, these main supports may have a logical relationship that could also affect how you present them.
or Sequencial Order
Significance or Precedence
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