Essays are big messages or long answers that you develop and put into an organized, written pattern. There are many types of essays.
When you receive an assignment or an essay prompt, your first step is to brainstorm until you come up with an original answer. For example, an assignment may be to:
Write an essay that describes a process. (This type of essay is sometimes called a how-to essay.)
After researching several possible process essay topics, you may decide to write about the process of making popcorn balls. You will start by writing down all of the steps you have to take while making popcorn balls, but in this first brainstorming stage, you must not worry about writing things in any order. Just "dump" all your thoughts onto a piece of paper.
Hint: To make sure you cover every step, imagine you are explaining the process to an alien who is unfamiliar with earth customs. For example, be sure to include steps like "gather your supplies" and "turn on the stove." An alien wouldn't know that!
After you have written every possible step, you organize those steps into a sensible order with an outline. The organized outline will represent your essay paragraphs.
What Are Essay Paragraphs?
"How to Make Popcorn Balls" is your overall message. Your essay will be made up of smaller clumps of ideas or messages called paragraphs. Each paragraph should express a distinct idea. In our example of a how-to essay:
- Your first paragraph will introduce the subject of making popcorn balls. This first paragraph will end with a thesis sentence.
- Your second paragraph will tell the reader to gather a list of supplies.
- Your third paragraph will tell the reader how to begin the process. You might instruct the reader to put butter in the pan, or you might instruct the reader to turn on the stove. You will decide the best first step!
What Are Topic Sentences?
Each well-constructed paragraph will contain a topic sentence that states and summarizes its overall message.
The message of the second paragraph in our example is clear: to make popcorn balls, the reader will have to collect supplies. It is good practice to make your topic sentence the first sentence of each paragraph. All the sentences that follow this topic sentence should provide supporting information. In this case, supporting information involves the list of supplies that your reader must gather.
What Are Transition Sentences?
To make your essay flow from one thought to another (or one step to another), you must use transition statements. In a how-to essay, the transitions take us from one step to the next. There are many transition words to use to make your essay paragraphs flow. Be sure to use a variety of expressions so your essay doesn't sound repetitive.
You last paragraph will be a conclusion paragraph. The conclusion can do several things, but its main function is to provide a sense of completion. In the conclusion you restate your main ideas and sum up your answer in a satisfying way.
Sample Essay Conclusion:
Popcorn balls can be as enjoyable to make as they are to eat. To make the experience fun, however, you must start with the right supplies and use the best ingredients. You must follow each step carefully, and keep your work space organized and clean. If you follow these simple rules, you will end up with a tasty, fun treat the whole family can enjoy together!