Thinking to Write Lesson W2: The Essay Structure

The Essay Structure

Writing Advice


• Introduce the topic—grab the reader’s attention.
• Clearly state the thesis. (A thesis statement can be more than one sentence long.)
• Imply or declare the points to be made that will support this thesis.
• It is more important to be clear about what you wish to express, than to express in a way that initially sounds impressive.
• First impressions make lasting impressions.
• NEVER quote dictionaries or encyclopedias!
• What interests me about this topic?
• Do I have a quick anecdote to share, one that might serve as a transition into my thesis statement?
• How can I break that big point (thesis statement) into smaller parts (points and sub-points)?
• How do all my little points add up to one main idea (thesis statement)?
• Why should this topic and/or my ideas/arguments/opinions/etc. be of interest to the reader?
• You might quote something that is relavent to your paper.
• You might consider your introduction to be a “map” of the essay’s body.
• There is nothing wrong with writing a draft of the introduction, to get you started on the essay’s body, and then polishing the introduction later.
• There is nothing wrong with writing and polishing the body of the essay first, and then writing the introduction last.

The Essay’s BODYHe taught us how to count. Jerry Nelson: 1934-2012.

• Be conscious of the rhetorical patterns you use, or should use.
• Remember to exploit various rhetorical patterns to make your points and sub-points clear.
• A sub-point provides an example or further proof of a point.
• One point or sub-point for each body paragraph
• Any number of points and sub-points for an essay
• See the video for further illustration.


There are many types of conclusions; see the video for a discussion of each of these types:
• Summary (Type #1)
• A tie to a larger context, to the world beyond the essay (Type #2)
• A call to action for the reader (Type #3)
• A concluding point (final point), to which all prior points add up


Purdue OWL: Essay Writing