If you feel confident about writing essays and usually do well at it, you may be able to skip this. There are other good ways to write an essay that will work just as well and be more interesting to read. But if you have any doubts about your ability to write a good essay and get a good mark, learn this pattern and follow it to the letter. It is the fool-proof, fail-proof method that you can use right up through English 3201 and possibly beyond (though university profs often require a more complex approach to essay writing than this basic outline).
First, you have to understand what a paragraph is: three to five sentences that develop a single, clear idea. When you’ve finished with one main idea, you move on and start another paragraph. A good paragraph often begins with a topic sentence that sums up your main idea. The most basic structure for an essay includes just five paragraphs. Paragraph One — The introduction. Here you state the main idea of your entire essay — the point you are trying to make or prove.
This paragraph should include your thesis statement — a one-sentence summary of the main idea — plus three reasons why you believe this statement to be true. Paragraphs Two, Three and Four. These are the body of your essay. Remember back in Paragraph One, you gave three reasons for your opinion? Three reasons, three body paragraph. Each of the body paragraphs should take one of your reasons and explain it in more detail, giving an example or illustration to back it up. Paragraph Five — The conclusion.
Former Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood once said about giving speeches: “First I tell them what I’m going to tell them, then I tell them, then I tell them what I told them. ” That’s how you write an essay. In the conclusion, tell them what you told them. Sum up your argument by restating your thesis statement and reminding the reader what your three reasons were. In an argumentative essay, you can finish with a “call to action” — tell the reader what you would like them to do as a result.