• Home   /  
  • Archive by category "1"

What Does It Mean To Be A Man Essay Help

General Essay Writing Tips


Despite the fact that, as Shakespeare said, "the pen is mightier than the sword," the pen itself is not enough to make an effective writer. In fact, though we may all like to think of ourselves as the next Shakespeare, inspiration alone is not the key to effective essay writing. You see, the conventions of English essays are more formulaic than you might think – and, in many ways, it can be as simple as counting to five.

The Five Paragraph Essay

Though more advanced academic papers are a category all their own, the basic high school or college essay has the following standardized, five paragraph structure:

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Paragraph 2: Body 1
Paragraph 3: Body 2
Paragraph 4: Body 3
Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Though it may seem formulaic – and, well, it is - the idea behind this structure is to make it easier for the reader to navigate the ideas put forth in an essay. You see, if your essay has the same structure as every other one, any reader should be able to quickly and easily find the information most relevant to them.

The Introduction

Want to see sample essays?
Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more!

The principle purpose of the introduction is to present your position (this is also known as the "thesis" or "argument") on the issue at hand but effective introductory paragraphs are so much more than that. Before you even get to this thesis statement, for example, the essay should begin with a "hook" that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. Examples of effective hooks include relevant quotations ("no man is an island") or surprising statistics ("three out of four doctors report that…").

Only then, with the reader’s attention "hooked," should you move on to the thesis. The thesis should be a clear, one-sentence explanation of your position that leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about which side you are on from the beginning of your essay.

Following the thesis, you should provide a mini-outline which previews the examples you will use to support your thesis in the rest of the essay. Not only does this tell the reader what to expect in the paragraphs to come but it also gives them a clearer understanding of what the essay is about.

Finally, designing the last sentence in this way has the added benefit of seamlessly moving the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper. In this way we can see that the basic introduction does not need to be much more than three or four sentences in length. If yours is much longer you might want to consider editing it down a bit!

Here, by way of example, is an introductory paragraph to an essay in response to the following question:

"Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions?"

"No man is an island" and, as such, he is constantly shaped and influenced by his experiences. People learn by doing and, accordingly, learn considerably more from their mistakes than their success. For proof of this, consider examples from both science and everyday experience.

DO – Pay Attention to Your Introductory Paragraph

Because this is the first paragraph of your essay it is your opportunity to give the reader the best first impression possible. The introductory paragraph not only gives the reader an idea of what you will talk about but also shows them how you will talk about it. Put a disproportionate amount of effort into this – more than the 20% a simple calculation would suggest – and you will be rewarded accordingly.

DO NOT – Use Passive Voice or I/My

Active voice, wherein the subjects direct actions rather than let the actions "happen to" them – "he scored a 97%" instead of "he was given a 97%" – is a much more powerful and attention-grabbing way to write. At the same time, unless it is a personal narrative, avoid personal pronouns like I, My, or Me. Try instead to be more general and you will have your reader hooked.

The Body Paragraphs

The middle paragraphs of the essay are collectively known as the body paragraphs and, as alluded to above, the main purpose of a body paragraph is to spell out in detail the examples that support your thesis.

For the first body paragraph you should use your strongest argument or most significant example unless some other more obvious beginning point (as in the case of chronological explanations) is required. The first sentence of this paragraph should be the topic sentence of the paragraph that directly relates to the examples listed in the mini-outline of introductory paragraph.

A one sentence body paragraph that simply cites the example of "George Washington" or "LeBron James" is not enough, however. No, following this an effective essay will follow up on this topic sentence by explaining to the reader, in detail, who or what an example is and, more importantly, why that example is relevant.

Even the most famous examples need context. For example, George Washington’s life was extremely complex – by using him as an example, do you intend to refer to his honesty, bravery, or maybe even his wooden teeth? The reader needs to know this and it is your job as the writer to paint the appropriate picture for them. To do this, it is a good idea to provide the reader with five or six relevant facts about the life (in general) or event (in particular) you believe most clearly illustrates your point.

Having done that, you then need to explain exactly why this example proves your thesis. The importance of this step cannot be understated (although it clearly can be underlined); this is, after all, the whole reason you are providing the example in the first place. Seal the deal by directly stating why this example is relevant.

Here is an example of a body paragraph to continue the essay begun above:

Take, by way of example, Thomas Edison. The famed American inventor rose to prominence in the late 19th century because of his successes, yes, but even he felt that these successes were the result of his many failures. He did not succeed in his work on one of his most famous inventions, the lightbulb, on his first try nor even on his hundred and first try. In fact, it took him more than 1,000 attempts to make the first incandescent bulb but, along the way, he learned quite a deal. As he himself said, "I did not fail a thousand times but instead succeeded in finding a thousand ways it would not work." Thus Edison demonstrated both in thought and action how instructive mistakes can be.

DO – Tie Things Together

The first sentence – the topic sentence - of your body paragraphs needs to have a lot individual pieces to be truly effective. Not only should it open with a transition that signals the change from one idea to the next but also it should (ideally) also have a common thread which ties all of the body paragraphs together. For example, if you used "first" in the first body paragraph then you should used "secondly" in the second or "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" accordingly.

DO NOT – Be Too General

Examples should be relevant to the thesis and so should the explanatory details you provide for them. It can be hard to summarize the full richness of a given example in just a few lines so make them count. If you are trying to explain why George Washington is a great example of a strong leader, for instance, his childhood adventure with the cherry tree (though interesting in another essay) should probably be skipped over.

A Word on Transitions

You may have noticed that, though the above paragraph aligns pretty closely with the provided outline, there is one large exception: the first few words. These words are example of a transitional phrase – others include "furthermore," "moreover," but also "by contrast" and "on the other hand" – and are the hallmark of good writing.

Transitional phrases are useful for showing the reader where one section ends and another begins. It may be helpful to see them as the written equivalent of the kinds of spoken cues used in formal speeches that signal the end of one set of ideas and the beginning of another. In essence, they lead the reader from one section of the paragraph of another.

To further illustrate this, consider the second body paragraph of our example essay:

In a similar way, we are all like Edison in our own way. Whenever we learn a new skill - be it riding a bike, driving a car, or cooking a cake - we learn from our mistakes. Few, if any, are ready to go from training wheels to a marathon in a single day but these early experiences (these so-called mistakes) can help us improve our performance over time. You cannot make a cake without breaking a few eggs and, likewise, we learn by doing and doing inevitably means making mistakes.

Hopefully this example not only provides another example of an effective body paragraph but also illustrates how transitional phrases can be used to distinguish between them.

The Conclusion

Although the conclusion paragraph comes at the end of your essay it should not be seen as an afterthought. As the final paragraph is represents your last chance to make your case and, as such, should follow an extremely rigid format.

One way to think of the conclusion is, paradoxically, as a second introduction because it does in fact contain many of the same features. While it does not need to be too long – four well-crafted sentence should be enough – it can make or break and essay.

Effective conclusions open with a concluding transition ("in conclusion," "in the end," etc.) and an allusion to the "hook" used in the introductory paragraph. After that you should immediately provide a restatement of your thesis statement.

This should be the fourth or fifth time you have repeated your thesis so while you should use a variety of word choice in the body paragraphs it is a acceptable idea to use some (but not all) of the original language you used in the introduction. This echoing effect not only reinforces your argument but also ties it nicely to the second key element of the conclusion: a brief (two or three words is enough) review of the three main points from the body of the paper.

Having done all of that, the final element – and final sentence in your essay – should be a "global statement" or "call to action" that gives the reader signals that the discussion has come to an end.

In the end, then, one thing is clear: mistakes do far more to help us learn and improve than successes. As examples from both science and everyday experience can attest, if we treat each mistake not as a misstep but as a learning experience the possibilities for self-improvement are limitless.

DO – Be Powerful

The conclusion paragraph can be a difficult paragraph to write effectively but, as it is your last chance to convince or otherwise impress the reader, it is worth investing some time in. Take this opportunity to restate your thesis with confidence; if you present your argument as "obvious" then the reader might just do the same.

DO NOT – Copy the First Paragraph

Although you can reuse the same key words in the conclusion as you did in the introduction, try not to copy whole phrases word for word. Instead, try to use this last paragraph to really show your skills as a writer by being as artful in your rephrasing as possible.

Taken together, then, the overall structure of a five paragraph essay should look something like this:

Introduction Paragraph

  • An attention-grabbing "hook"
  • A thesis statement
  • A preview of the three subtopics you will discuss in the body paragraphs.

First Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the first subtopic and opens with a transition
  • Supporting details or examples
  • An explanation of how this example proves your thesis

Second Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the second subtopic and opens with a transition
  • Supporting details or examples
  • An explanation of how this example proves your thesis

Third Body Paragraph

  • Topic sentence which states the third subtopic and opens with a transition
  • Supporting details or examples
  • An explanation of how this example proves your thesis

Concluding Paragraph

  • Concluding Transition, Reverse "hook," and restatement of thesis.
  • Rephrasing main topic and subtopics.
  • Global statement or call to action.

More tips to make your essay shine

Planning Pays

Although it may seem like a waste of time – especially during exams where time is tight – it is almost always better to brainstorm a bit before beginning your essay. This should enable you to find the best supporting ideas – rather than simply the first ones that come to mind – and position them in your essay accordingly.

Your best supporting idea – the one that most strongly makes your case and, simultaneously, about which you have the most knowledge – should go first. Even the best-written essays can fail because of ineffectively placed arguments.

Aim for Variety

Sentences and vocabulary of varying complexity are one of the hallmarks of effective writing. When you are writing, try to avoid using the same words and phrases over and over again. You don’t have to be a walking thesaurus but a little variance can make the same idea sparkle.

If you are asked about "money," you could try "wealth" or "riches." At the same time, avoid beginning sentences the dull pattern of "subject + verb + direct object." Although examples of this are harder to give, consider our writing throughout this article as one big example of sentence structure variety.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

In the end, though, remember that good writing does not happen by accident. Although we have endeavored to explain everything that goes into effective essay writing in as clear and concise a way as possible, it is much easier in theory than it is in practice.

As a result, we recommend that you practice writing sample essays on various topics. Even if they are not masterpieces at first, a bit of regular practice will soon change that – and make you better prepared when it comes to the real thing.

Now that you’ve learned how to write an effective essay, check out our Sample Essays so you can see how they are done in practice.

Essay Writing Center

Related Content:

Table of contents for Essay Help:


Helpful Handouts:

 

More to come soon, but here are a few forms which past students have found useful:

Whole Essay Scaffold for Literary Analysis in .doc form. Note: this is a form you type directly into to help you with organizing your essay draft.

General Introduction form (.pdf)

General Conclusion form (.pdf)

Example introduction/conclusion pair (.pdf)


Example "Hooks" for an Introduction:

 

Imagery, Anecdote or Narrative: People are drawn to stories—consider opening with a descriptive anecdote to draw the reader into the topic. Make sure what you write is relevant to the thesis!

The smell of blood was heavy in the air. In front of Napoleon, a pile of corpses sent a clear statement to the rest of the survivors, who looked on in shock. The rest of the animals vaguely remembered some rule about not killing other animals—but since Napoleon had ordered the killings, the rule must not be what they had remembered.

What NOT to do: Imagine…

Funnel (Generalization to Specificity): Consider a generalization that can be made about your thesis—what universal statement is implied in your thesis? Open with this generalization, then focus in on a specific.

In society, people put trust in leaders and laws. Leaders are trusted to make the best decisions for the group, and laws are turned to as a guide for how to act. However, when leaders are corrupt and laws are manipulated, society suffers.

What NOT to do: Since the dawn of mankind…

Relevant Quotation (rarely done well): Two keys to success with a quotation: (1) choose one that is relevant to your overall point and (2) make sure to transition into your synopsis.

“Man serves the interests of no creature except himself… among us animals let there be perfect unity, perfect comradeship in the struggle.  All men are enemies. All animals are comrades” (812). These words from Old Major may have inspired the animals to rebel, but by the end of George Orwell’s novella Animal Farm, it was clear that man was not the only animal guilty of such selfishness.

What NOT to do: “Life is a box of chocolates,” –Forrest Gump. The animals on Animal Farm…

Startling Statement:A bold, controversial statement (related to your topic) can draw your reader in, but make sure you aren’t offending your audience or turning them against you immediately.

Being unintelligent dooms a person to slavery. Education and literacy is the key to freedom and happiness because these enable free thinking. This rings very true in George Orwell’s novella…

What NOT to do: Blood! Gore! Throats torn out! …

Rhetorical Question: If done poorly, a question as a hook can ruin a paper. However, it is possible to pose a question that does engage the reader.

  • The key: the whole essay should be aimed at developing an answer to that question.
  • Never ask a question directly to the reader using “you”!
  • Never ask “Have you ever…?”
  • Never ask “What if…?”

What NOT to do:

  • Have you ever seen a pig walking on two legs?
  • What if the animals on a farm overthrew the farmer?
  • What would you do if you noticed rules were changed?


General Introduction Help

 

Remember that you must always consider your reader. The introduction is a critical place to remember this. The jobs of an introduction include (but are not limited to):

  • Engaging the reader by using a relevant "hook"
  • Offering necessary context to establish your ethos as a speaker on the topic
  • Establishing a clear sense of purpose, usually through a concise thesis statement

For some ideas about hooks, click here.

The middle part of the introduction helps to establish your ethos as a writer. (In this case, ethos refers to your credibility, character, or reliability as a speaker about your topic.) In this middle section of your introduction, your job is to provide context or background that your reader will need to be ready to consider your thesis. By providing this context, you make yourself look more intelligent and credible as a speaker on the topic.

  • In a literary analysis, this usually means you offer a brief synopsis of the work of literature you are analyzing.
  • In a persuasive research essay, this usually means defining the "problem" or the social context of the problem your thesis proposes a solution to.
  • In a historical analysis, this means establishing the political, social, or economic context that your reader needs to know in order to be ready for your thesis proposition.
  • In an expository or narrative, it is even more vague (if that is possible), but your task is to get your reader "on the same page" as you before you begin your argument or explanation.

Next, you'll move on to your thesis statement, the core proposition of your argument.


Basic Thesis Statement Help

 

A very basic but effective thesis statement is the "three prong" thesis. For most high school writing, it will suffice, though more sophisticated writers learn to transcend this. You might remember it's ancestor: "My paper will be about puppies, kittens, and hotpockets…" where the thesis hints that paragraph one will be about puppies, paragraph two will be about kittens, and paragraph three, for some reason, will be about hotpockets.

This essential structure is fine, but you have to get away from the "my paper will be about" inclination.

Consider the thesis has being a fork: it has a handle and three prongs. (There is nothing magical about the number three, but it is considered a rhetorically "beautiful" number which offers a well structured argument.)

The HANDLE contains the root assertion or proposition, while the PRONGS establish the supporting propositions.

NOTE: Check the prongs closely: each prong must start with the same grammatical part of speech in order to maintain parallel construction and sound grammar in the final thesis. In the example above, focus, talk, and struggle are all verbs. This leads to strong parallel construction in a thesis.

A complete thesis can then be composed through a little math: H + P1, + P2 + and P3. Voila, a functional thesis.

Blood imagery in Macbeth most vividly symbolizes the effect guilt can have on a psyche when the main characters focus on the bloody daggers, talk of wading through blood, and struggle to remove the sight and smell of blood.

The same pattern can apply to any essay which seeks to establish and prove a proposition:

In this case, the first words of each prong are each adjectives. The completed thesis would therefore read as follows:

The American government should increase funding for cancer research because increasing numbers of Americans are affected by cancer each year, innovative technologies require funding support and better understanding of cancer will lead to better preventive care.

The result is a clear proposition and a succinct preview of what the argument will discuss.


General Conclusions Help

 

What does the word "conclusion" really mean? What does it mean "to conclude"? Too often we think that it just means "to finish" or "to bring to a close." However:

TO CONCLUDE also means to use the given evidence to make a statement or make an inference based upon logic and reason.

A conclusion, therefore, is not merely a summary of what you just wrote in your essay. A conclusion is a summary of what you just wrote in your essay AND a broader statement or inference based on the evidence and logic you've just provided.

I particularly like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's resource page about conclusions… read it!

I have found that this pattern seems to help construct conclusions which go beyond simply "summarizing":

  • REVIEW: Briefly summarize the evidence you've provided to illustrate your point. What key ideas or observations have you presented?
  • CONNECT: Consider the ideas or observations you just reviewed… what do these have in common? In the most basic sense, this is a more articulate rewording of the handle of your thesis–but go further…what does all your evidence have in common? What is the common thread?
  • EXTEND: Considering the common thread you just identified, so what? Why is this common thread, this core idea, significant to the broader context? If you are writing about literature, why is this idea significant to the work as a whole, and further, why is it significant to human experience? If you are persuading, why is this common thread important enough to your audience or to society in general to be persuasive?
  • ECHO: Look back at the rhetorical device you used in your hook. Echo key phrases from your hook, and consider concluding with a complementary rhetorical device: if you open with an anecdote, close with the conclusion of that anecdote; if you open with a question, offer the concise answer to that question or pose a follow-up question; if you open with a quotation, comment on the critical idea or point of that quotation. This "echo" gives your reader a sense of closure.

Here is a document which shows a side-by-side literature based introduction and conclusion.


Helpful Links

 

If you do your own online searches for "essay help," be very careful that you don't drift into a "paper mill," where students buy and sell essays. Using an essay from the internet and passing it off as your own work is plagiarism, will be caught, and will be punished severely. As a reminder, my class policy on plagiarism is articulated in my syllabus (see tab above). If you're just looking for help, consider checking out the sites below:

If you find a link that you think is a great resource and which you find useful, email it to me!


One thought on “What Does It Mean To Be A Man Essay Help

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *