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  • Hey. This is Mr. Sato and I'm going to help you organize your essay.

  • Organization in an essay is actually pretty easy once you learn it. You may be writing

  • an essay about a work of literature, a research paper for your social studies class, or answering

  • a writing prompt on a standardized test; argument or explanatory;

  • it doesn't matter. They all require the same basic organization.

  • Let's make a quick distinction between those two kinds of essays. An argument essay, sometimes

  • called a persuasive essay, contains a thesis; it's an opinion that you'll be supporting with evidence.

  • with evidence.

  • On the other hand, an explanatory essay, sometimes called expository or informative, uses a topic

  • sentence; it's a factual topic that you'll be explaining more about in your essay.

  • Yes, these two things are different, a thesis is an opinion while a topic sentence is factual;

  • but the organization around them is pretty much the same. But be sure you know what kind

  • you're supposed to be writing.

  • OK, now. Look at this diagram of what I like to call "The Machine." It's pretty simple.

  • The triangle on the top represents the beginning. It will open with your hook, and end with

  • your thesis or topic sentence, represented by this little gold star here.

  • I drew a star because the thesis (in an argument essay) or topic sentence (which is what you

  • use in an explanatory essay) is kind of the star of the show. It is the single most important

  • sentence in the entire essay because everything else in the essay is there to serve that sentence.

  • The blocks in the middle are usually called the body of the essay. That's where you support

  • your thesis or topic sentence with evidence and arguments. The word "proof" is a little

  • strong, but it might help you to think that what you're doing in the middle section of

  • an argument or persuasive essay is proving your thesis. In an informative or explanatory

  • essay, you would say you're developing your topic in more detail with examples and relevant

  • information.

  • The triangle at the bottom is the end, your conclusion. That's where you remind your reader

  • what the point of the whole essay has been, and explain why it matters.

  • Think of this structure as a machine. You know how on a car, all the basic parts work

  • together to achieve a single purpose? to drive you safely from point A to point B? That's

  • what the tires are for, that's what the brakes and the drive shaft are for, that's what all

  • the parts in the engine are for. They all exist and work together to make one thing

  • happen.

  • This structure is like that. The hook smoothly introduces your thesis. The body of your essay

  • supports or "proves" your thesis. Your conclusion restates your thesis and extends it a step

  • further to provoke a thought or to show how that idea can be applied in real life.

  • And that's basically it. But let's now look at the individual parts of this machine a

  • little more closely.

  • In the first paragraph, begin with a hook, or attention-getting intro. I made another

  • video on exactly this topic, so I encourage you to check that out. You want to say something

  • interesting here that makes your reader want to read on, and of course, it should relate

  • to whatever it is you're writing about. It's wide up here, because the introduction is

  • usually more general, broader. At the bottom of the triangle, it's narrow because that's

  • where you narrow it down to your specific point: your thesis or topic sentence, represented

  • by this gold star.

  • And since everything else in the essay serves this single statement, make sure you don't

  • mess this up. Look carefully at the prompt or your assignment and make sure your thesis

  • or topic sentence is clearly and specifically addressing the assigned topic. If the prompt

  • is to argue for or against deep fried candy bars in school lunches, then your thesis must

  • do one of those two things: say that you support deep-fried candy bars in school lunches, or

  • that you oppose them. It must be a clear answer to the prompt. If you don't do that, your

  • essay will be vague at best, or off-topic at worst. All your evidence will stand around

  • uselessly with no claim to support.

  • The body, or middle, is the longest part of your essay. This is where you support or "prove"

  • your thesis. So, you think that candy bars in school lunches is a bad idea? Here's where

  • you say why. You should have multiple reasons to support your position, and each of those

  • reasons gets its own separate paragraph. The classic "5-paragraph essay" requires exactly

  • three supporting paragraphs, like a stool with three legs, but many essays require more.

  • A few, like a letter to the editor, could require fewer.

  • In some essays, like a compare/contrast essay, you might describe the first thing in one

  • paragraph and the second thing in the next paragraph, then analyze the differences in

  • the next one. Or maybe you could describe similarities between the two things here,

  • and two differences here and here. But no matter how many supporting paragraphs you

  • have, or even what's in them, they all do the same job. They must support your thesis.

  • If something isn't helping you prove the thesis, take it out.

  • So, this is how it works. If this was a trial, the defendant's plea (not guilty) would be

  • the thesis, and the evidence to prove his or her innocence would be the body of the

  • essay. This middle section should be the longest part of your essay.

  • An explanatory essay is very similar. Rather than proving an assertion or claim, you explore

  • different aspects of your topic in each of the body paragraphs. Let's say your essay

  • is about South African history. One paragraph might be about the colonial period, a second

  • might be about 20th century conflicts under apartheid, and a third might be about its

  • present political situation. Three legs of a stool. The body of the explanatory essay

  • develops different aspects of your topic.

  • Another subtopic is the counterclaim and your rebuttal, but I'll put that in a separate

  • video.

  • At the end of your essay, you will remind your reader what point you're trying to make,

  • so you will paraphrase your thesis. Paraphrase. Don't use the exact words you used in the

  • first paragraph.

  • Restating your thesis is like you're closing the deal. You're sort of saying, "So, after

  • all this, you can see that my thesis is true, right?"

  • And then you add what I call the "broader significance." That isn't a term you'll find

  • in a textbook; it's what I call it. But it's where you explain why this idea matters, why

  • it's significant. It's where you take your conclusion one step farther. It's where you

  • answer the question: "Yeah...so?"

  • Using that candy bar example, in your conclusion, you might want to talk about how schools are

  • places where kids can learn how to be adults, so schools have a responsibility to promote

  • healthy lifestyles. You're explaining why this idea matters.

  • You broaden your perspective, like a camera pulling back to show the landscape, the bigger

  • picture. That's why I drew another triangle here. This time you begin narrow and specific

  • (you oppose deep-fried candy bars in school lunches), and broaden out to a wider, more

  • general statement (schools have a responsibility to their students). It's just like the first

  • paragraph, but upside down; this time it starts narrow and ends broad, the opposite of your

  • first paragraph.

  • A second way to end your essay is to, again, paraphrase your thesis, then give a call-to-action.

  • Tell your reader directly what he or she should do about all this new information you've given

  • them. You might say, "So write to the school board and tell them that deep-fried candy

  • bars have no place in our school cafeteria." You're telling the reader what he or she can

  • do, what action to take, if he or she now shares your opinion.

  • Before we finish, there's one more thing. The paragraph transition is a big topic, but

  • briefly, look at the diagram again. See how these parts aren't actually touching one another?

  • They aren't actually connected yet. You need to put a little link between each one so the

  • machine runs smoothly. That's a paragraph transition.

  • Here, you might say something like, "First of all." Here, you might write, "Furthermore;"

  • here at the last supporting paragraph, you could put, "Finally," and here you could say,

  • "In conclusion" or "So." Those are pretty simple, mechanical transitions.

  • They aren't very clever, but they'll do the job. They'll tell your reader that you're

  • moving on to the next part of the machine, and it's way better than not having transitions

  • at all. To continue with our car analogy, a paragraph transition is like the oil that

  • keeps the parts working smoothly without too much friction. The machine might work OK without

  • them, but it would be clunky and awkward.

  • For a better and fuller explanation, look at my video on paragraph transitions; here's

  • a link.

  • That's all there is to it. Every essay you will write, whether it's for English, Social

  • Studies, Science, or a standardized test, argument or explanatory, will require some

  • version of this basic structure: introduction, development, and conclusion.

  • In more advanced classes, the structure of your essays will still be pretty much the

  • same; they'll just be longer, give more support, and the evidence might be grouped into categories

  • of evidence, or have subordinate theses that support a bigger one; they might have an exploratory

  • but still orderly flow of ideas from one to the next rather than center around a single

  • thesis; but they're still basically this shape: a statement, supporting evidence, and a conclusion.

  • So what I call the "machine" is a good place for writers to start. Here are some time indexes

  • so you can re-watch the parts you want.

  • Once you've mastered essay organization, you'll find your writing is easier because you know

  • what you're supposed to be saying at any given point in your essay. Just remember the diagram

  • and what the different parts do. Do that, and your organization will be clear, orderly,

  • and effective.

  • And remember this: people who can argue effectively, and who can show that they know what they're

  • talking about, tend to get what they want in life. And that's what I want for you. Happy

  • essay writing..

Hey. This is Mr. Sato and I'm going to help you organize your essay.

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エッセイの整理の仕方(ザ・マシーン (How to Organize Your Essay (The Machine))

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    Chun-Neng Wang に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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