Let's review the guidelines for effective essay writing and then we'll move to the complete essay example.

General Essay Writing Guidelines

An essay is a written argument or discussion. The purpose of an essay is to say something about an issue or a topic in a clear, logical manner so that the reader understands the writer's points and is convinced that they make sense.

1.      The three parts of an essay are:

A. Introduction

B. Body

C. Conclusion

2.      Functions of the Introduction Paragraph

A. It attracts the reader's interest, encouraging him or her to continue reading the essay.

B. It supplies any background information that the reader may need to understand the essay.

C. It presents a thesis statement which is a clear, direct statement of the main idea or central of the essay. The thesis statement should (1) identify the topic you are going to discuss,(2) your point about that topic and (3) your plan of development. Your statement can appear at the beginning or end of the introduction paragraph.

D. The plan of development which "previews" the major supporting points the writer will discuss in the order they will be presented in the paper. However, writers can sometimes choose to use a basic thesis statement which does not preview the major supporting points.

3.      Common Methods of Introducing Your Topic

A.  Begin with a broad, general statement of your topic and narrow it down to your thesis. (Eases the reader into the thesis statement by first introducing the topic.)

B. Start with an idea or a situation that is opposite of the one you will develop. (Surprises the reader, then intrigue them by the contrast between the opening idea and the thesis that follows it.)

C. Explain the importance of your topic to the reader. (Convince readers that the subject in some way applies to them, or is something they should know more about.)

D. Use an incident or a brief story. (Appeals to the reader's curiosity and usually grabs the reader's attention right away. The story should be brief and should relate to the writer's main idea. The incident in the story can be something that happened to you, something you've heard about, or something you have read about in a newspaper or magazine.)

E. Ask one or more questions. (The question should be thought provoking meaning you want the reader to think about possible answers, or you may plan to answer the questions in the paper.)

F.  Use a quotation. (This can be expressions you've heard, read about in a book or an article. This lets you add someone else's voice to your own.)

4.      Body Paragraphs provide supporting details for major points

A. It includes a topic sentence which is a complete sentence that states the paragraph's main idea.

B. The features of an effective topic sentence are:

C.  It contains supporting detail sentences that are related to the topic sentence and the controlling idea. These sentences give information that supports the topic of the paragraph. Effective supporting sentences explain, describe, give reasons, facts, and examples to prove and/or illustrate the point being made. They answer the questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how to help prove specific detail.

  1. Real Life Examples - tell the story of an incident that accutally occurred to you or someone you know. Make sure the incident you use actually provides evidence for your side of the argument.


Topic Sentence: Secondly, with these camera, not only would there be fewer fights in schools, but there would also be fewer thefts.

Evidence: At my local White Hen, there was a camera installed to prevent theft. One time I was in there and a couple of high school kids were stuffing candy bars into their pockets. Once they saw the camera, they ran out of the store.

This evidence is weak for two reasons. For one thing, it goes off topic. The issue is security cameras in schools, not in retails stores. Make sure to relate your examples directly to the prompt topic. Secondly, the example is not clearly tied back onto the argument for the cameras.



Topic Sentence: Secondly, with these camera, not only would there be fewer fights in schools, but there would also be fewer thefts.

Evidence: At my school, my physics teacher used his expensive laptop for class. One day he couldn't find it. Some students stole his computer. He had no idea who would have taken it from him.

This evidence ties back to the central argument, if ther were a camera in his room, the thief would have been caught. Or if everyone knew a camera was watching, the theft might have been prevented altoghether.


D. The concluding sentence is the last sentence of each supporting detail paragraph. Its job is to bring that paragraph to a logical conclusion by:

5.      Concluding Paragraph

A. This is the last paragraph of the essay.

B.  It restates the ideas contained in the thesis statement.

C. The topic sentence of the last paragraph should signal the reader that the essay is drawing to a close.

D. The supporting details of the concluding paragraph should highlight what you want the reader to think about after reading the essay.

E.  Do not add a new supporting point in your conclusion.

6.      Using Transitional Words, Phrases, or Linking Sentences

A. Signal the direction of a writer's thought.

B. They are used between paragraphs to help tie the supporting paragraphs together in an essay.

C. They enable the reader to move smoothly and clearly from one idea in one paragraph to the idea in the next paragraph.

D. Some commonly used transitional words or phrases are: first of all, secondly, another, in addition to, finally, as a result, consequently, therefore, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, meanwhile, also, but, for example, etc...