Cari Blog Ini

Sabtu, 30 Juni 2012

How to Construct an Essay

A.   Standard Format Requirements
  • Typed – use a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) on a computer.
  • Double-spaced - the space between lines on the page.
  • 12 point font – standard size of the text.
  • Times New Roman – standard font style.
B.    To begin writing:
1) You need to choose a topic that you are fairly knowledgeable about, and one in which you have some interest (interest is most important -- one can always do research).
2) The topic needs to be narrowed into one that can be managed easily for the size of the essay that you are doing.  (if you are writing a five-paragraph essay, a thesis statement such as "Asthma is receiving much media attention recently due to the rapid increase of persons diagnosed with the disease; it is an ailment which has many causes and many treatments and whose sufferers exhibit varied symptoms." will be too wide-ranging.)
3) Stay with the point that you are trying to make; do not meander and try to show how much you know about the subject.
4) Use a lot of details, but remain specific.

C.    Finding A Topic
When choosing a topic, it is fine to start out with something general that you are interested in, such as movies. Then you need to break it down into components, such as the history of movies, how they are made, the various jobs associated with movies, etc. Choose one of these, and narrow it into a topic.
Once you have come up with a topic broad enough to write a paper on, but narrow enough to be contained into the length of the paper you are writing, then you need to have a workable thesis statement (t.s.).
There are two main types of thesis statements: argumentative and informative.
1)     Argumentative Thesis
Next, you need an arguable point, or one that you can fully develop. Let's say that you have chosen the example "Are movies worth what they cost?" First, ask yourself whether you want to argue that they are or they are not. Next you must decide at least three ways to back up your argument.
EX. Going to the theater is worth the price of the ticket because movies cost a great deal to make today, the tickets are actually cheap compared to some other forms of entertainment, and involving ourselves in the movie allows us to escape from our own problems for a couple of hours.
(Notice: the above example has 3 points, each of which will be elaborated on in the next three successive paragraphs.)
2)     Informative Thesis
If you are most interested in the jobs that are available in the movie industry, you may want to write about a certain job, or three obscure jobs. If you chose the last example, then you only need to inform, not argue.
EX. There are several jobs in the movie industry that are not well known; three of these are the gaffer, the best boy, and the gopher.
(In this case, the next three paragraphs will focus on telling about each of the jobs, in turn.)

D.   "Workable Thesis''
We have touched on this already, but I feel as though I need to stress the point that your workable thesis statement (t.s.) is not written in stone, and once you have finished researching for your essay, you may feel as though you want to change your t.s.
Let's say that you want to tell about the jobs, then you need to know something about the jobs, i.e., their average pay, what do they do, how common the job is, how hard the job is to get, what kind of education do you need, and so on. List what you want to say, and find out the same information for each job. When you go on to write your essay, you will want to tell the same information about each job, preferably in order in each paragraph. You may discover that you will not be able to obtain enough information to write a five-page essay, and so you will need to choose another topic. An outline of some sort will help you decide if you will be able to tackle the topic you have chosen.
Often, students will begin research on a topic with a working thesis, and during the course of researching discover they have changed their mind on their argument.  For example, students may begin writing a paper on why there should be a death penalty, but after researching their topic, they decide the death penalty is wrong.  This is perfectly fine; a working thesis is just that:  something to work with.  There is no law stating that you must keep the thesis you began with; in fact, you may rewrite it several times.  (Of course, if your thesis statement was assigned by your teacher, it is advisable that you not change it.)
It is often best to get well underway with the writing of your essay before you focus on the introduction.  Spending too much time on your intro can be frustrating and can cause a loss in the overall paper.  Plus, once you know what you are going to say, it will be easier to introduce it.

E.    Begin to Write Your Introduction
If you were able to find enough information on your topic and you are still happy to work with your thesis statement, then you may begin to write your introduction. As a rule of thumb, an introductory paragraph should be at least a half-page long. In this paragraph, you need to introduce your topic, grab your reader's attention, have a strong thesis statement, and forecast what you are going to talk about. The thesis statement should be stated clearly. Your paper's goal should be obvious. A forecasting statement gives your reader an initial sense of a composition's meaning and organization. It previews what lies ahead. They are used in the supporting paragraphs as well as the introductory paragraph. It is an effective way to tell your reader in advance about the arrangement of the composition that follows. For instance, in the basic five-paragraph essay it is customary to develop three points in the three supporting paragraphs. These three points should be stated specifically in the forecasting statement.
One way to become acquainted with smooth, clear introductions is to look at how the professionals do it -- notice the introductions in your everyday reading, such as magazines. When you get ready to write your own introduction, begin with a few general remarks about your topic.
EX: Inflation is a fact of life; prices seem to always go up, but never down. It may often appear that every time we go to a store we discover what was $1.25 last week is now $1.35. Even when we go out to the movies to relax and forget our woes, we are often asked to spend more than what we had expected.
The above example also has a hook in it to grab the reader's attention. Everyone knows about inflation; we are all affected by rising costs. So, when the reader gets down to the thesis statement, he or she is ready to see what kind of argument you are going to put forth in favor of the ridiculous price of movie tickets.
F.  Forecasting
The forecasting is included in the thesis statement above, although it can occur before the thesis statement. Forecasting's purpose is to let the reader know what you are going to be talking about. No one wants to waste their time reading something that they have no idea, or a very vague idea, what it is going to be about. This is the reason that novels have a short summary of the story on the back cover, and, from a reader's perspective, that is why we read the back cover. We do not want to read a book that is about something we are not interested in.
G.  Supporting Paragraphs
When you have settled on a working thesis statement and have the three points that you wish to make (for a five paragraph essay) then you are ready to work on your supporting paragraphs.  In a five-paragraph essay there will be three supporting paragraphs, one for each point.  (see outline)  Each paragraph will have a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and a concluding sentence.  (A paragraph is basically a mini-essay in that way.)  The topic sentence acts like a thesis statement for the paragraph.  It sets forth specifically what the paragraph is all about.  Again, like the thesis statement, you want your topic sentence to be interesting so that your reader's attention is piqued.
Once you have your topic sentence you need to develop your paragraph with support sentences.  The support sentences must relate to the topic sentence.  They should elaborate on the topic sentence by giving details, stating facts, using illustrations, giving definitions, citing reasons, or using contrasts and comparisons.  Your support sentences should contain specific, concrete details and examples rather than vague or generalized statements.
Your paragraph should finish with a concluding statement.  You do not want to end the paragraph without a conclusion.  Just like your essay needs closure, so does your paragraph.  A good conclusion leaves your reader satisfied.
Supporting paragraphs should do just that: support your thesis statement. By the time your reader has gone through your supporting paragraphs, there should have been sufficient validation of your thesis statement so that s/he can easily agree you have proven the point you set out to make.
Transitions are necessary for a smooth flow throughout your paper.  To become a strong writer, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the various means of transition.
A word of warning: leave yourself out of your academic paper. In other words, do not use "I think" or "In my opinion." You are writing the paper; the reader will automatically assume it is your thoughts and opinions unless otherwise stated. Do not use "I" at all in your work.

H. Concluding Paragraph
The conclusion should leave your reader with a feeling of satisfaction.  It should give a sense of closure.
You should not introduce any new material in your conclusion.  The conclusion should be a wrapping-up of sorts.  It should tie your essay up in a nice, neat bow.  It should also answer the reader's question of 'So what?'  Tell the reader why you wrote this essay.  (NO!  Not "I wrote this essay because it was assigned to me in my English class.")
Some ways in which you could answer "So what?"
1. Tell why the story, etc., is valuable to you as a person.
2. Tell why the story, etc., is valuable to our society.
3. Tell what we can learn from this.
4. What does it reveal about the character(s), etc.?
5. What does it reveal about the writer's attitude toward her/his subject?
6. How has the story, etc., changed your feelings toward a particular subject?

I.    General Writing Tips
1. Think & Discuss
Familiarize yourself with the material before you begin writing. You won’t be able to write much if you don’t have anything to put on the page. Think about your paper topic as soon as you get the paper assignment prompt from your instructor. This can be facilitated in a number of ways. A great way is to discuss the issue with your instructor or teaching assistant. Also, try talking about it to a friend or family member.
2. Rough Drafts & Editing
Write rough drafts ahead of time. For many people, writing their rough ideas down as rough drafts help them see their ideas more clearly than even thinking about them. Then, take a break from the essay (this usually requires at least a half, if not full, day). After the lengthy break (for example, the next day), go back and edit more. Repeat this process as necessary until finished. (This is why it is important to start working on your essay far in advance.)
Also, don’t be afraid to just type without thinking too much about whether it’s good. You can always go back and edit it. Many people find it best to just sit down and write a bunch without much reflection. Just make sure you have enough time to go back and edit.
3. Comments/Review
Once you have a final draft ready, have someone read it to look for errors and provide feedback. Many instructors encourage students to turn in early drafts to them for comments. Just be sure to check and see if your instructor allows you to do so.
a.     Style & Punctuation
Overall, the paper should demonstrate a command of the writing process and the author’s care in crafting it. In particular, make sure to avoid errors of spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, verb tense, and vocabulary, such as the following:
1.      Double-space after periods and colons, single space after commas and semi-colons. Always double-space before you start a new sentence. Notice, however, that this is not standard for web pages, which is why I have single spaces after everything here.
2.      No contractions. Contractions are words that use an apostrophe ( ‘ ) to put two words together, such as don’t, won’t, couldn’t, you’re. Instead, to be more formal, write out the words like this: do not, would not, could not, you are.
3.      Put punctuation inside quotations. If you put something in quotations that is immediately followed by punction (such as commas or colons), then put the punctuation mark inside the last quotation mark. Correct: John Doe claims that, “Britney Spears is a tool.” Incorrect: John Doe claims that, “Britney Spears is a tool”. Another example: “I’m in love with Space Ghost,” Bjork proclaimed. (Note: I know this rule doesn’t seem right. The British style of writing has the punctuation outside the quotation marks, which makes more sense to me. However, the American style requires that you write it the other way.)
4.      Put parenthetical citations outside of quotations. Correct: “Blah, blah, blah, this is a quote” (Author 32). Incorrect: “Blah, blah, blah, this is a quote (Author 32).”
5.      Introduce quotes. Introduce quotes, preferably by acknowledging who is saying it. Example: In the article “War Without End,” John Doe says, “…blah, blah, and blah” (36).
6.      Notice the three dots in the quote (…), which is called an elipses. You’re supposed to put those in when you are not quoting the whole sentence. It denotes that something came before (or after) the part of the sentence you are quoting.
7.      Commas after items in a list. When you have a list of things, where the last item has ‘and’ or an ‘or,’ then you must decide whether to put a comma before the ‘and or the ‘or.’ Either way is really acceptable in formal English, so, just make sure you are consistent throughout your paper.
Example: In the basket were apples, oranges, and grapes.
Example: In the basket were apples, oranges and grapes.
8.      Spell out numbers. For example, write ‘three,’ not ’3.’ Exceptions can be made for larger numbers, like 1089, especially when you are simply making reference to a numeral.
9.      Do not use informal abbreviations and notations. To be more formal, do not use informal notations or abbreviations. For example, don’t write ‘&’ for ‘and’ or ‘b/c’ for ‘because.’ However, there are notations and abbreviations that are conventions in professional writing; for example: ‘e.g.’ is often used for ‘for example’ and ‘etc.’ for ‘et cetera’ and ‘p.’ for ‘page.’ However, for this last one, note that it is only used in citing sources or references, not in other sentences. So, for example, don’t write “The p. had many words of wisdom written on it.”
10.  Use versus mention. In general, when you mention rather than use a word you should put quotes (single or double) around the word. This is not necessary when you use a word.
Incorrect: John contains the letter h.
Correct: ‘John’ contains the letter ‘h.’
(Note: Some people simply italicize the word to indicate mention. I follow this convention here sometimes so that it is easier to read. However, it can get confused with emphasis, which is what italics are more commonly used for. Also, the standard for use-mention indication is not exactly clear. Most people use quotes and use single quotes for British style and double quotes for American style. I tend to use single quotes just to distinguish them from quoting what someone has said.)
b.     Common Grammatical Errors to Avoid
1.      Misusing i.e. and e.g. Do not confuse these two. They do not mean the same thing!
i.e. = that is
e.g. = for example
(Many people think that ‘i.e’ stands for ‘in example.’ That is false. Both are abbreviations for two different latin phrases.)
2.      Writing ‘cannot’ as two words.
Incorrect: I can not decide.
Correct: I cannot decide.
3.      Using ‘if’ when you should use ‘whether’.
Incorrect: I do not know if this is true.
Correct: I do not know whether this is true.
Correct: If this is true, then you are wrong.
4.      Confusing ‘there’ with ‘their.’ ‘Their’ indicates possession, ‘there’ does not.
Incorrect: There problem was a lack of courage.
Correct: Their problem was a lack of courage.
Incorrect: Their are a lot of problems here.
Correct: There are a lot of problems here.
5.      Misconnecting verbs.
Incorrect: We should try and change the law.
Correct: We should try to change the law.
6.      Letting your accent get in the way of things.
Incorrect: Mind and brain are one in the same thing.
Correct: Mind and brain are one and the same thing.
Incorrect: Socrates should of fought.
Correct: Socrates should have fought.
7.      Improper form of the plural possessive of names.
Incorrect: Descarte’s problem was ….
Incorrect: Descartes problem was….
Correct: Descartes’ problem was….
Correct: Descartes’s problem was….
8.      (Note: Either of the last two is acceptable only for names ending in ‘s’ like ‘Descartes’ or ‘Jesus.’ Otherwise, always go with the last example–i.e., add an apostrophe and an ‘s.’ The convention is usaully to not add an extra ‘s’ for old names, such as ‘Descartes’ and ‘Jesus.’ So, to say that this is the book that Rawls owns, people often write: “This is Rawls’s book.”)
9.      Improper use of semi-colons.
Incorrect: The following will be on the test; Locke, Hume, Parfit.
Incorrect: Although there is no right answer; there are many wrong answers.
Correct: There is no right answer; there are many wrong answers.
(The Rule: Use a semi-colon only where you could use a period instead. In other words, a semi-colon must join two clauses that could stand by themselves as complete sentences. The semi-colin is just used to indicate that the two sentences are connected or intimately related.)
10.  Confusing ‘then’ and ‘than’.
Incorrect: If this is true, than I’m a fool.
Incorrect: I am more of a fool then you are.
Correct: If this is true, then I’m a fool.
Correct: I am more of a fool than you are.
11.  Gender-neutral pronouns at the expense of grammar.
Incorrect: If someone did say that, then they were lying.
Correct: Anyone who did say that was lying.
Correct: All those who did say that were lying.
12.  Its versus it’s.
Incorrect: Its easy to make this mistake.
Incorrect: It’s pages are crumbling.
Correct: It’s easy to make this mistake.
Correct: Its pages are crumbling.
(Note: partly adapted from Pasnau’s Top 10 Writing Errors)
J.     Humorous Writing Guidelines
1.      Be more or less specific.
2.      Use not bad grammars.
3.      Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
4.      Don’t use no double negatives.
5.      Avoid tumbling off the cliff of triteness into the dark abyss of overused metaphors.
6.      Take care that your verb and your subject is in agreement.
7.      No sentence fragments.
8.      Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
9.      Who needs rhetorical questions?
10.  Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place.
11.  Avoid colloquial stuff, like totally.
12.  Avoid those run-on sentences you know the ones they stop and then start again they should be separated with semicolons.
13.  The passive voice should be used infrequently.
14.  And avoid starting sentences with a conjunction.
15.  Excessive use of exclamation points can be disastrous!!!!
16.  Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.
17.  Stamp out and eliminate redundancy because, if you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing, so reread your work and improve it by editing out the repetition you noticed during the rereading.
18.  It’s incumbent on one to employ the vernacular and eschew archaisms.
19.  It’s not O.K. to use ampersands & informal abbreviations.
20.  Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are usually (but not always) an obstacle for readers (and make it harder on readers even if you’re being careful).

Tidak ada komentar:

Posting Komentar