<si> IV Pick a Prompt to Begin your Essay
    <si><si> Start work on your first draft
    • V Remember Organization, Strategy, and Critiquing
      Apply these techniques as you write

    • Long Version:

      First, which brainstorming techinique works best for you?
      invisible writing,
      pairing opposites,
      or question/answer.

      Hint: Actually, if you use the question/answer technique as you write, the ideas that pop up will easily turn into complex points of view. In other words, when you are stuck just ask a 'Who', 'What', 'Where', 'Why', 'When', and/or 'How' question(s) about your idea, to bring meaning to an otherwise simple idea. This works every single time! It is a very simple yet exceptionally effective brainstorming technique.

    Secondly, before you actually begin your essay you should be familiar with the transitional words that match your voice. Stated another way, when you speak I'm sure there are certain terms you use more often than others (i.e. oftentimes valley girls use the term 'like' in the beginning of their sentences.) Well, it's the same thing when you write. With writing you use your particular voice, so certain transitional words may represent you better than others. If you are aware and know these words ahead of time, you have an edge over other oblivious students who may not know how to express themselves properly using transitions. Here are some examples of transitional words.

    Thirdly, I'm sure writing an essay with an utterly awesome conclusion might seem like a stretch to you. But actually, there are some easy ways to reach that pinnacle without it hurting too much. Some guidelines to follow include organization, stategy, and critiquing.

    Organizationally, you want to have a pattern that you follow throughout the entire essay. In other words, if you state a fact or idea, then support it with a couple examples from personal experience or whatever, then end up with a developed idea from those steps, be sure to use that same structure for each paragraph (except in the conclusion which will be addressed later). Another way you can structure your paragraph is to start with your developed idea and then use facts or ideas to support and strengthen your position. Either way, use the same pattern of organization in every paragraph for consistency.

    Next, strategically you want to have a specific plan or approach, even before you start to write. For instance, the writing section of the SAT asks for a persuasive essay. So, you should be familiar with the steps of persuasive writing. First, introduce the issue and any background information. Second, take a stand by providing a clear, strong thesis statement. Third, support that position with evidence that shows the flaws in opposing viewpoints. Fourth and lastly, when you draw a conclusion restate your position along with your newly developed ideas. Then, through reasoning present them in a broader context by comparing and contrasting them, or using an analogy to apply them in the context of other ideas or populations.

    Finally, be sure to critique your work. This will set you apart from others who tend to be a bit too overanxious or proud to correct their own work. This can be kind of fun because when you proofread and edit your writing, you are actually role playing! At this point, you are no longer a writer but a reader (so use your imagination and be anyone at all). Then as a reader you know what needs to be fixed. Once it's fixed to mean what you wanted it to say, wahlah you're done!

    Well, that's it in a nutshell. With a little practice, you'll be surprised at how natural this comes to you. One last tip for those who may be verbal, rather than visual thinkers. Either read your essay aloud or into a tape recorder. When you play it back, whatever needs to be corrected will jump right out at you. I wish you luck, but then . . . if you practice even just some of these techniques, you won't need any luck etal!

    These pages were made through TeacherTECH, the teacher professional development component of GirlTECH, which is sponsored by the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education (CEEE) with support from the National Science Foundation through EPIC.

    Copyright © June 2005 by Diane Jerome.