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Writing Multi Paragraph Essay

Outline Format
for a Five-Paragraph Essay (or piece of writing)
Christine Bauer-Ramazani 

NOTE:  Outline points are usually in phrase form, e.g.  Adj + N + Prep + N (= Noun Phrase) or parallel verb phrases.  The following numbering system is standard and should be followed for outline assignments.

____________________________________________
Title of Essay

  I.  Introduction

          A.       Background information (interesting facts, statistics, rhetorical questions)

1.  _________________________________

     2.  _________________________________

B.  Thesis Statement: (Write the sentence in full. Include Topic, Controlling Idea, 3 Aspects/Focal Points.)

________________________________________________
________________________________________________
________________________________________________.

II.    ________________________________________ 
                              (Main idea/aspect # 1)

          A.    ___________________________________ 
                              (Supporting idea #1)

          1.   ________________________________
                    (Example/detail)

          2.     ________________________________
                    (Example/detail)

             B.    ___________________________________
                                      (Supporting idea #2)

          1. ________________________________
                    (Example/detail)

          2. ________________________________
                    (Example/detail)

 

III.  ______________________________________
                                (Main idea/aspect # 2)

              A.    _________________________________
                                (Supporting idea #1)

                      1.     ______________________________
                                (Example/detail)

                      2.     ______________________________
                                (Example/detail)

              B.    ________________________________
                                (Supporting idea #2)

  1.     ______________________________
           (Example/detail)

  2.     _____________________________
            (Example/detail)
 

IV. ___________________________________
                               (Main idea/aspect # 3)

          A.    _________________________________
                               (Supporting idea #1)

                       1.     ______________________________
                               (Example/detail)

                       2.     ______________________________
                               (Example/detail)

           B.    _________________________________
                               (Supporting idea #2)

                       1.     ______________________________
                               (Example/detail)

                       2.     ______________________________
                               (Example/detail)
 

 V.    Conclusion

A.    ______________________________________________________
(Restatement of the thesis/summary of aspects)

B.  ___________________________________
  (Outlook for the future/Recommendations)

© 2006  Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Saint Michael's College. Last updated: November 10, 2017

Writing a Multi-paragraph Essay

Learning Objective:

  • Write a well-organized, multi-paragraph essay supporting a position.

LESSON
When writing a longer essayA short piece of writing that focuses on at least one main idea. Some essays are also focused on the author's unique point of view, making them personal or autobiographical, while others are focused on a particular literary, scientific, or political subject. with three or more paragraphs, you should follow the writing processA series of steps that guides a writer through the process of gathering ideas, outlining, writing, and revising an essay, article, or story., which helps you choose a topicThe subject of a reading. and organize your ideas. This process involves a series of steps from when you begin thinking about writing until you have proofreadThe process of carefully searching a writing draft for mistakes at the sentence- and word-level in order to correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. the final draftThe last version of a writing that has been revised, edited, and proofread.. Here are the steps to the writing process that help you prepare to begin writing.

The Writing Process

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas.
First, begin by brainstormingA prewriting technique where the author lists multiple ideas as he or she thinks of them, not considering one more than another until all ideas are captured. The objective is to create one great idea, or many ideas, on which to base a writing. ideas so you can identify a topic for your writing. To do this, you might make a list, draw a diagram, or spend some time freewritingA prewriting technique where the author begins writing without regard to spelling or grammar about ideas, topics, or even characters, descriptions of events, and settings. Often the writer will freewrite for a set period of time. The objective is to develop a storyline through the writing process itself. about what is on your mind. Take time to research your topic, noting ideas and information that you think might work in your essay.

Step 2: Develop a thesis.
Next, once you have brainstormed ideas and identified a topic for your writing, develop a thesisAn overall argument, idea, or belief that a writer uses as the basis for a work., which is the controlling idea of your essay. Your thesis statementA brief statement that identifies a writer's thoughts, opinions, or conclusions about a topic. Thesis statements bring unity to a piece of writing, giving it a focus and a purpose. You can use three questions to help form a thesis statement: What is my topic? What am I trying to say about that topic? Why is this important to me or my reader? tells the reader what you are writing about and why it is important to your audienceThe group of people a writer expects to read a text. Writers use specific language, details, and examples to speak directly to their intended audience. For example, you would write and organize your work differently if your audience was a group of experts in the field of your work than if it was a group of undergraduate students being introduced to the topic.. It should also reflect your opinionPoint of view that shows a personal belief or bias and cannot be proven to be completely true. or attitude toward the topic.

Step 3: Create an outline.
Third, outline your ideas for the essay. Creating an outlineA preliminary plan for a piece of a writing, often in the form of a list. It should include a topic, audience, purpose, thesis statement, and main and supporting points. , even if it is rough and may change as you write, helps you determine if you have enough information to support your thesis and allows you to begin organizing that information in your essay.

Step 4: Write a rough draft.
Once you have worked through the preliminary parts of the writing process, you are ready to begin writing a rough draftThe first version of a writing that will undergo rewriting, additions, and editing before it becomes the final draft. of your essay. Be sure to keep the structure of an essay in mind as you write, making sure to include an introductionThe first paragraph of an essay. It must engage the reader, set the tone, provide background information, and present the thesis. paragraph, body paragraphsThe part of an essay that comes after the introduction and before the conclusion. Body paragraphs lay out the main ideas of an argument and provide the support for the thesis. All body paragraphs should include these elements: a topic sentence, major and minor details, and a concluding statement. Each body paragraph should stand on its own but also fit into the context of the entire essay, as well as support the thesis and work with the other supporting paragraphs. , and a conclusionThe end portion of a writing that contains a summary or synthesis of the idea in the work. This includes a recap of key points and reminders of the author's purpose and thesis statement. paragraph. The introduction paragraph brings the audience into the essay by getting them interested in the topic. It also includes the thesis statement. The body paragraphs provide the information to support the thesis. Finally, the conclusion mirrors the introduction by reminding readers of the thesis statement and helps finalize the essay by reinforcing the main points.

+ PRACTICAL APPLICATION

All writers use a process when developing any piece of writing, even though the particulars of the process may change from person to person. Most involve the steps in the process listed above. You can apply the writing process to almost any type of writing. It can be used to help create a cover letterA letter that is sent along with a resume that provides context and more information for the reader. for a job application, a memoA short written message from one person to another or to a group of persons, usually containing business information. or email sent around an office, or any essay assignment in college. Even when you are asked to write an in-class essay as part of a mid-term or final exam, following the writing process will help ensure that your response is well-organized and thoughtful.

+ EXAMPLE

If your assignment is to write an essay about an influential person in your life, you might begin by making a list of people you think fit that description. From that list, you may choose one or two people that you think are the most influential and that you can write the most about. The position you are supporting in this example is that the person you choose to write about is truly an influential person.

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas.

  • Grandfather
  • Ms. Jones (neighbor)
  • Mr. Peterson (coach)
  • Father

Step 2: Develop a thesis.

My father influenced my decision to become a musician.

Step 3: Create an outline.

Each main point can become a paragraph with supporting ideas. For example:

  1. My Father - An Influential Person (This is the topic of the essay.)
    1. Taught guitar (This will be the first body paragraph.)
      1. Bought me my first guitar (This will be a supporting idea.)
      2. Gave me lessons (This will be another supporting idea.)
    2. Traveled to first guitar performances (This will be the second body paragraph.)
      1. Attended concert at school (This will be a supporting idea.)
      2. Took me to local competition (This will be another supporting idea.)
    3. Encouraged forming a band (This will be the third body paragraph.)
      1. Gave space to practice (This will be a supporting idea.)
      2. Had patience when we didn't play well (This will be another supporting idea.)

Step 4: Write a rough draft.

When I think of influential people, I think about my father because he supported my interest in music. In our family, music was part of our everyday lives. Everyone played an instrument, including my mother and sisters. My father played the guitar, my mother played the flute, and both of my sisters played the clarinet. I chose to play the guitar. While we were all musical to some degree, my father influenced my decision to become a musician.

I was nine years old when my father bought me my first guitar. It wasn't anything fancy and it didn't cost much, but it was a good place to start my musical education. Because my father had been playing for over twenty years, he gave me my first lessons in the finger placements and how to read music. 

Later, when I got a little older, he would come to my concerts at school. I was the only one in my class who could play the guitar, so it was sort of unusual to have just one guitar player as part of our band concerts. Having him there cheering me on was important and made me want to continue. He also supported me by taking me to different local musical competitions.

When I got to high school, I got together with a few other guys who were also interested in music. We would go to each other’s houses and play around on our instruments. When we were at my house, my dad would listen in even though we weren't that great and regularly encouraged us to form our own band. He even gave us space in the basement where we could set up and store our instruments.

My father never pushed me to play the guitar. He only encouraged me to follow my dream and was always a positive presence. Looking back at the different ways he was there for me, I see now just how much influence he had on my desire to become a professional musician.

+ YOUR TURN

Using the topic provided, follow the writing process to write a well-organized, multi-paragraph essay supporting a position. Make sure to include a thesis statement, an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion.

Topic: How to Get the Career You Want

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas.

Step 2: Develop a thesis.

Step 3: Create an outline.

Step 4: Write a rough draft.

  • Get a college degree related to your field
  • Intern with companies to learn about the career
  • Work hard
  • Create a good resume
  • Learn how to do well at job interviews

In order to get a great career, it is essential that you become a good student and do well in college.

Title: College to Career

  1. Introduction
    1. Interesting story: Kids talking about what they want to be when they grow up.
    2. Thesis: In order to get a great career, it is essential that you become a good student and do well in college.
  2. Plan wisely
    1. Find a college that has a good curriculum in the area you are interested in.
    2. Choose your major based on your desired career.
    3. Choose classes that support your interests and challenge you to learn.
  3. Get support
    1. Utilize your advisor's knowledge to plan your schedule.
    2. Meet with your professors during their office hours for individual guidance.
    3. Form study groups with friends to help each other understand concepts and stay on track.
    4. Ask your professors, advisor, and others to help find internships in your field and professional organizations and networking opportunities.
  4. Develop good study habits
    1. Attend class and come prepared.
    2. Complete all assigned readings and turn in assignments on time.
    3. Don't procrastinate:
      1. Get started on papers early and work on them a little at a time instead of waiting until the last minute and writing them in one day.
      2. Study for tests one section at a time instead of cramming the night before.
  5. Conclusion

College to Career

How many times have you heard children talking about what they want to be when they grow up? They often answer with silly or outrageous ideas like "a purple spaceman." As we get older, our ideas for what career we would like to have get more realistic. We also start thinking about what it will take to accomplish our goals. One thing is clear, if you want to have a great career in today's world, it is essential to become a good student and do well in college.

One way to do well in college while keeping your future career in mind is to plan wisely. First, find a college that has a good curriculum in the area you are interested in. You should also choose your major based on your desired career. For example, if you want to go into advertising, then you should choose a business degree that focuses on marketing and advertising. Another important step is to choose classes that support your interests and challenge you to learn. It's okay to take a few fun classes that interest you, like art and music, but if being an artist isn't your dream job, than you should only take a few of those and keep the rest of your classes focused on your goal.

Another way to achieve your career is to get the support you need to do well. Be sure to utilize your advisor's knowledge to help you plan your schedule. A good tip is to meet with your professors during their office hours for individual guidance. Forming study groups with friends enables you to help each other understand concepts and stay on track. Finally, don't be afraid to ask your professors, advisor, and others to help you find internships in your field and give you information on professional organizations and networking opportunities.

One of the most important things you can do to be successful in college is to develop good study habits. Make sure to attend class and come prepared. You could have the best classes and professors available, but you won't learn a thing if you don't go to class or you aren't ready to learn. Also, complete all your assigned readings and always turn in your assignments on time. Even a few late assignments can mean getting a lower grade in the class. Another good study habit is avoiding procrastination. Get started on papers early and work on them a little at a time instead of waiting until the last minute and writing them in one day. It's also a good idea to study for tests one section at a time instead of cramming the night before.

Think about what you used to say you wanted to be when you grew up. Was it an astronaut? A doctor? A teacher? Whatever you wanted to be, taking college seriously is an important first step to finding the career of your dreams.

+ METACOGNITIVE QUESTIONS

What is the process you have typically followed whenever you have been asked to write an essay and how well has it worked for you?

Which part of the writing process do you find the most challenging and why?

Sometimes I do some of the steps listed above, but mostly I just sit down and write the essay. If there is time, I edit it before turning it in. This works okay for me, but sometimes I get low a grade because the teacher says my essay is unorganized.

I think the most difficult part is creating an outline. I never know exactly how or what I'm going to say in an essay until I actually write it, so making an outline seems like a waste of time. It's good to remember that I don't have to follow the outline when actually writing the essay and that it should only be used as a guide. That might make it easier to do.

Developed by The NROC Project. Copyright ©2018 Monterey Institute for Technology and Education

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