Often student writers are taught short-term solutions to the problem of organizing an essay. The most common short-term essay is the "five-paragraph essay" format. The five-paragraph essay uses the following organization: 1. Introduction--Background and thesis
2. First Body Paragraph--The first reason why the thesis is true 3. Second Body Paragraph--The second reason why the thesis is true 4. Third Body Paragraph--The third reason why the thesis is true 5. Conclusion--Recap of essay
It is important to understand that the five-paragraph essay is not necessarily bad. However, most student writers are led to believe or falsely believe that all essays must follow the five-paragraph essay format. Just a little thought makes clear that format is very limiting and limited and does not provide an adequate organization for many types of writing assignments. That is why I have crossed-out the description of the five-paragraph essay, so that you won't make the mistake of thinking that it is the best way to organize your essays. Instead, student writers should see that the form of an essay (its organization) needs to match the purpose of the essay. To begin with, we should look at one of the most common tasks student writers are asked to perform and the one of the organizational strategies effective for this task. Explaining Cause and Effect
Often writers are asked to explain how certain conditions or events are related to the occurrence of other conditions or events. When a writer argues that "one thing leads to another," he or she is making a cause-and-effect argument. For example, in an Economics class, students might be asked to explain the impact of increasing oil prices on the nation’s economy. Inherent in the question is the assumption that increasing oil prices is a cause, which produces specific effects in the rest of the economy. So, higher oil prices produce higher gasoline prices raising the cost of shipping goods. Higher...