There are many forms, rules and conventions to follow when writing. When writing an essay the standard format includes five paragraphs.
The first paragraph opens the discussion in a broad manner connected to a broad statement that presumably everyone agrees with, presents an argument, and three pieces of evidence to support the argument. The next three paragraphs present one of the pieces of evidence each in greater detail. The final paragraph is the closing, and it sums up the evidence presented and makes the conclusive argument that the evidence presented has proven the argument. The end of the conclusion connects the essay back out to the wider world.
An easy way to remember the format is to think of the opening paragraph as a funnel with a broad opening at the top that can take in the attention of a broad audience of readers by presenting a statement that will be agreeable and interesting. After writing the broad, agreeable opening statement there may or may not be an additional sentence that segues from the broad opening statement into the argument statement. The opening paragraph may have as few as two sentences; however, more often than not it will have at least three sentences, and possibly as many as six.
Think of each of the body paragraphs as a rectangle. In each of the body paragraphs, one of the pieces of alleged evidence must be presented in the first sentence of the paragraph. Then the evidence statement should be followed up with at least two pieces of data that prove the validity of the alleged piece of evidence. In a simple short essay, that will be sufficient; however, if it is a longer essay, the proof of each piece of evidence may evolve into a sub-essay in turn requiring several paragraphs.
Think of the closing paragraph as an inverted funnel with the narrow part at the top. You have focused the attention of the reader on your argument and then maintained the focus by presenting specific pieces of evidence that you backed up with specific data. In the closing paragraph, you need to reconnect the pieces of evidence back to your argument statement to state unequivocally how you have proven your argument. After stating that you have proven your argument then you should connect back out to the wider world with a statement that will leave your readers either with specific ideas or suggestions as to how what they have learned in the essay can be applied, or ask questions that cause them to come up with ways on their own as to how the information can be applied in their lives.
We have reviewed the basic format of an essay and presented details on each of the three types of components that are essential to a good essay. Now that you know the structure of a good essay, how can you apply this information to other writing you may need to do in school and in your life?
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