An ESSAY is the written expression of the author"s opinion. An opinion is one person"s idea of the truth. The opinion is informed; it is based on facts or experience.

    The THESIS of an essay is that opinion, condensed to a statement which is reasonable, specific, and can be proven. The purpose of the essay is to defend, explain, clarify, and illustrate the thesis.

    In order to produce an effective essay, the writer needs to:

      (1) Determine the  Subject

      (2) Formulate a thesis. One method of arriving at a thesis:

            1. Take an inventory of information based on facts and experiences.
            2. Ask yourself general questions about the subject.
            3. Seek relationships among these facts, experiences and questions.
            4. Make a statement about these relationships as a tentative thesis.
            5. Qualify the tentative thesis by limiting it to the area of discussion.

          (3) Develop the thesis by selecting appropriate
          method(s) of organization and support. (See
          section on "Organizing Information and Ideas
          -- Graphic Organizers") These include:

            1. Definition
            2. Classification
            3. Description
            4. Analogy
            5. Illustration
            6. Comparison-Contrast
            7. Cause-Effect
            8. Analysis of Process
            9. Chronology
            10. Spatial relationship
            11. Problem-Solution

          (4) Choose effective language for the purpose: formal,
          informal, colloquial, clinical, specialized terminology,

          (5) Engage the reader by making choices of diction,
          syntax, imagery, and details to produce the
          appropriate tone for the audience and task.

          (6) Follow a logical structure.

        1. The introduction is usually one paragraph.
        2. It may begin with a broad, general statement that should contain at least one major element from the thesis (usually a noun); or it may begin with an interest device.
        3. The introduction narrows to a single idea, which is the thesis statement.
        4. It creates interest, drawing the reader into the topic.
        1. The number of body paragraphs is determined by the information to be presented.
        2. Each body paragraph contains one major point or one major argument.
        3. A point developed at length should be divided into more than one paragraph.
        4. Minor points may be grouped in a single body paragraph.
        5. The strongest point appears in the final body paragraph.
        6. Each body paragraph contains transitions to help the thought of the essay flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next. (See next section, "Useful Transitions.")
        7. Each body paragraph should have:
          1. A topic sentence to identify the main point of the paragraph.
          2. Specific illustrations of the topic idea. These often include quoted material.
          3. An evaluation of how and why the specific illustrations explain the idea of the paragraph and how and why they prove the thesis.

          The conclusion may restate the thesis in an interesting way and end with a summary statement, opinion, final emphasis, or implication. It may also include a brief summary of major points made in the body paragraphs. No new material should be introduced in the conclusion. (Note: At the high school level the conclusion paragraph may be used to make connections to other ideas or works.)

      A Guide to Communication:The Grosse Pointe Public Schools Style Sheet
      © The Grosse Pointe Public School System, 2000