Guide for Writing Essays

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ESSAY

Graphic Organizer

I. The Nature of the Essay
A. Origin
B. Definitions
C. Types of Essays
1. Formal or impersonal essay
2. Informal or familiar essay
II. Elements of the Essay
A. Title
B. Idea/ Thesis
C. Motive
D. Introduction
E. Body
F. Conclusion
G. Form and Structure
H. Language and Style
I. Key terms/ Assumptions
J. Evidence/ Analysis
K. Orientation/ Explanation
III. How to Read an Essay
A. Know the title of the essay
B. Know the author of the essay
1. Describe who is speaking in the essay
2. Determine the writer’s attitude toward the subject
C. Know when the essay was written
D. Read the essay once
E. Focus on key words and phrases
F. Read the article again, slowly and carefully
G. Identify the issue or problem
H. Underline main points
I. Reread the whole essay
J. Reflect on
IV. Guidelines for Teaching (Writing) the Essay
A. Decide on topic
B. Prepare an outline or diagram of ideas
C. Write your thesis statement
D. Write the body
E. Write the introduction
F. Write the conclusion
G. Add the finishing touches
V. Analyzing the Essay
A. Read over the essay several times
B. Discuss the essay with a teacher or a peer
C. Check the meaning of the unfamiliar words
D. Tear apart of the essay's structure
E. Research the structure
F. Write an outline
G. Write the paper or analysis

I. The Nature of the Essay

A. Origin
The Essay is the simplest literary form with only three important parts- the beginning, the middle and the end. It is a form of literature which provides the reader an opportunity to see the importance of expressing ideas in form. “Essay” is derived from Michael De Montaigne’s first collection of short prose writing-Essais or “attempts”. From its beginning, it was considered as an attempt to communicate. The word essay has a similar meaning with “assay” which means: to test or evaluate. When this term was used in the works of Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne in the 16th century, it meant an “attempt,” a test, a trial. The essays of these famous writers were intended to test ideas, weigh insights, and probe traditional definitions. Therefore, an essay is a prose composition of any length intended to present a tentative exploration or evaluation off a subject.

B. Definitions
1. A literary type in which a writer states an opinion and explains his or her reasons for this opinion. 2. A prose composition of any length intended to present a tentative exploration or evaluation of a subject. 3. Simplest literary form with only three important parts – the beginning, the middle and the end.

C. Types of Essays
There are two general types of essays:
1. Formal or impersonal essay- deals with serious and important topics like philosophy, theology, science, and politics. It has authorities and scholarly style, and shows the writer’s masterful grasp of the topic. Its formal tone echoes a detached, objective, clear, straightforward expression. Mainly the purpose is to teach and instruct. 2. Informal or familiar essay- covers the light, ordinary, even commonplace subjects through a bubbling, casual, conversational, friendly, often humorous, but equally insightful stance as the formal essay. The familiar essay appeals more to the emotion than to the intellect, touching the sensitivity first, then the mind. Often, the personality of the author is revealed through a fluid style and light treatment of the topic.

The modern essay has derived from the combination of these two general types. A number of specific types such as the following:

a. Reflective – serious in tone and dignified in style, this type is mainly aphoristic. It’s short and sharp “quotable quotes” or choice maxims cut deep into memory like a proverb or an adage. The subject matter spurs thinking and rouses keen observation....
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