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April, 2019

Written compositions often play a large part in many secondary school and college courses. This lesson walks you through the process of planning, writing, and editing a five paragraph composition.

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What Are You Writing?

An assignment referred to as a composition is usually a brief essay of five paragraphs. Sometimes, you will need a few more paragraphs to provide enough supporting detail in certain types of essays. For example, an argumentative or persuasive essay, in which you are arguing a specific point, may need more than five paragraphs. But by using the five-paragraph essay as a model, you can learn what you need to include and how to format your composition.

Before we look at the parts of an essay, you should note that this lesson is about non-fiction writing. If you are assigned to write a short piece of fiction, like a short story or flash fiction piece, there are different guidelines that will not be presented in this lesson.

The Parts of an Essay

You can probably guess that the first paragraph should be an introduction to your topic. This introduction should be like a road sign to tell your readers what they will encounter in your paper. You may start with a fact (like a statistic), a question, or a quote. Even if none of these options work for your particular composition, remember that the first sentence should contain an element that makes your reader want to continue. Sometimes this is called a hook because it pulls the reader into what you're saying.

If you are writing five paragraphs, think of the middle three as the ''meat'' in your essay ''sandwich.'' This is where you will give supporting details that give substance and strength to your thesis, which is the main point your composition is going to convey. In fact, it makes writing especially smooth if you can organize each of the three body paragraphs around one point that adds to your overall thesis.

Finally, you need a strong conclusion to your paper. When writing a longer research paper, the conclusion is where you sum up your findings and/or argument. The same applies to a shorter composition. Remember that summarizing does not mean repeating your introduction - or even a single sentence from it. The conclusion should be a synthesis of your composition, or a blending of all that you have said previously to leave your reader with something new to think about. If the reader can already guess what your conclusion is after reading the introduction, you have more planning and writing to do!

Qualities of a Good Essay

There are four basic qualities that every good essay must have.

The first is organization.

Of course, using the five-paragraph essay model will help you to organize. But remember as you plan and write your composition that you need a way to organize your ideas before you start writing. Some types of essays, like a narrative or process, lend themselves to a chronological format. Others, like a persuasive essay or a compare/contrast essay, work better with a conceptual organization. This is your decision as a writer. And, unless this is an in-class, timed assignment, you always have the opportunity to read through your essay and change the format.

The second quality needed is coherence.

This simply means that what you have written should make sense. Sometimes you may know what you are trying to say, but the reader can't make sense of it. Again, reading your work and judging it as if you're the reader will help ensure a coherent composition.

Third is unity.

Ask yourself whether everything you have included pertains directly to the point you want to make. It's easy to get off track when you are writing, especially when you're passionate about your topic. You may throw in some statements that are not important to your thesis in this particular composition. Proofread to determine the level of unity in your work.

Finally, every essay must have support for the thes being presented. Remember, this is what your body paragraphs are all about. Support your argument with details, facts, examples, and descriptions.

Proofreading and Editing

Proofreading means reading through your work carefully to find small mistakes and problems with organization or content. Go slowly and look at every word, and also at the way in which sentences are put together. This may sound strange, but one technique for proofreading that works quite well is to read each sentence separately, starting with the last sentence in your essay.

Editing is a bit different. You edit when you go through the composition and change things as you find errors or make comments and notes on the rough draft. It's sometimes helpful to get a friend or classmate to read through and give you peer feedback. In many composition classes, it's standard practice to have students edit each other's essays before making final changes.

Lesson Summary

The writing process for non-fiction compositions includes planning and formatting, as well as proofreading, or reading through your work to find small mistakes and problems, and editing, or going through the composition and changing things. Your thesis is the overall point of your composition. In addition, do not forget that every essay should have an organization, or a way to organize your ideas; coherence, which means your writing makes sense; unity, or making sure everything included pertains directly to your purpose; and support, which refers to the details, facts, examples, and descriptions that make your point. Finally, remember to express yourself clearly so that your reader knows exactly what you want to say.

Also read: How To Study During Your Workout


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