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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Very Simple Essay Writing Tip: Opening paragraph

One tip I learned when writing an essay, they say, is to think like a journalist. The principle being the 5 W's and the 1 H,

1. The 5 W's and the H, I will refer to this as the 5W/1H from now on.
A) Who - Who is the story/essay about?
B) What - What happened? What's your point, etc.
C) Where - Where is it happening.
D) When - When did it happen?
E) Why - Why did it happen?
F) How - How did it happen.

So, for an essay, let's use the 5 paragraph format. In the opening paragraph, don't be coy, lay everything out on the line using the 5W/1H format, but make it a little interesting.

For example, let's look at the "Who"
Most beginning writers would say, "Marx was a sociological economist that believed the workers were not getting the fair value of their work and were being exploited."

Let's jazz it up a little bit :)
During the industrial revolution, it was a time of rapid sociological change. Gone are the days of the feudal lords, who owned land and gave penance to the share croppers. Factories were being built and a new labor system was being born. Karl Marx saw these changes and saw the inequities and the conflict of the classes.

If you look at the prior paragraph, I have answered the when, where, and the what question along with the who. This is a starting point, in which you can start to practice your opening paragraph.

One more note: For SAT essays (in the US), the average time a grader reads an essay is 60 to 75 seconds, SECONDS!!!! not MINUTES, a school here in South Korea asked me to give a SAT writing workshop once. My advice to them: Make the opening paragraph great. The 1st & last line of each paragraph great!!!!

Now, this is college level and I don't know how much time they spend per paper, but a lot of this made hold water for our essays also.

Another tip. If the time for essays are 2 hours and 30 minutes for example, then we should practice for 2 hours 20 min, then 2:10, then 2:00. Once we become proficient at 2 hours, then that extra 30 minutes will seem like a lifetime.

Hope this helped :)

I will post more on the body at a future date :)

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