Putting the Pieces Together:
Now that you’ve done some brainstorming and prewriting about values, it’s time to take that writing and organize it to create a plan for your essay. Some writers prefer to create formal outlines, some prefer mapping, or some other way of planning more suited to individual writing styles. While linear outlines can be useful for many types of academic essays, there’s no prescribed way to plan. Do what works for you. This template is meant only as a guide, if needed, to help you organize your thoughts in order to begin drafting the Unit 1 essay.
This strategy is a bit different from an outline–although some students like to use mapping as a starting point when planning an essay and then build a more linear and detailed outline from it. Check out the link below for additional info on mapping and see if you think it might be a good strategy for you as you begin planning your essay. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/sites/default/files/docs/learningguide-mindmapping.pdf
Remember–we want to break the habit of the traditional five-paragraph essay format. This means that you have a lot of options when it comes to beginning your essay and how many ideas you want to focus on. As long as it’s clear what the paper is about, why it matters, etc. you will be fine. HOWEVER, if you think it’s more helpful to begin with a structured intro, the following guide lists elements that are typically seen in Academic essay introductions. Just keep in mind that this first essay is more of a critical narrative, so your intro might look differently than previous essays you’ve written. You are not bound to this, but use it merely to help you, as needed.
- Interesting opening statement to hook the reader. Beginning with a quote, interesting statistic, question, unusual fact, historical reference, etc. can be a useful strategy when you are struggling with where to start. Or, in this essay, students sometimes like to start with a bold or shocking statement about themselves or their past (that connects with the evolution of the value they will eventually discuss). Examples:
- When I was five years-old, my parents were abducted by aliens.
- In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and I cried out of joy. And then my grandmother died and I cried out of sorrow. And I haven’t stopped crying since.
- I once had a friend who hated sweets. Cupcakes, candy, cookies, ice cream. She never ate them.
- Background info (start broadly then narrow down to your specific topic as you write). Keep your background info broad–you’ll give us the more interesting details in the body. You want to keep your reader interested enough to want to know more.
- Exigency (importance, purpose, what good may come from reading this?)
- Roadmap (what main idea(s) will you focus on in the body?).
- Thesis/Line of Inquiry (what is your essay about? What claims are you making?)
- You should make clear the value you are exploring the evolution of so your reader knows what the paper is about.
- Main idea (from the roadmap)
- Claims (i.e. “This experience caused x to happen”)
- Critical Analysis (so what? What does it all mean? What can you tell us that we might not be able to figure out on our own?)
- Additional source support, as needed. Your source support in essay 1 is really just your own recollection of your memories and experiences. However, some students might have particular public events that have shaped their value-in that case, you will want to cite source materials, as needed.
- Analysis of additional sources (use synthesis to put your sources into conversation with one another). Don’t just quote or paraphrase from the source. Tell the reader what it means and how it demonstrates your claims (connects back to the thesis about values).
- Remember: You are writing a critical narrative. You aren’t just telling us a story about your life, you are analyzing your memories critically, looking beneath the surface in order to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the events that have shaped who you are as a person and what values you hold as a result of those experiences. Dig deep! Show the reader how your unique experiences have shaped your values. We must first understand our own values and how they have been formed in order to understand the values of others. This work is a necessary precursor to building critical thinking skills and research skills needed for the persuasive writing you will do later.
Keep it short and sweet!
- Revisit roadmap (remind the reader what you focused on in this essay)
- Revamp the thesis–this is where your claim about the shaping of your value will be restated.
- Revamp exigency (leave the reader with something that speaks to the broader implications of your topic) and connect back to the intro in a meaningful way (a nod to the opening lines can make an impact). In other words, what good might this type of work do? Why should we explore where our values come from? Why is it important to think critically about our past experiences and events and people in life that have influenced us? Leave the reader with something to think further about.
Copyright, 2022, Lamanda Beesley Conrad