TIPS ON HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS EFFECTIVELY

Mr. Steel

 

Your critical essay should contain the following elements:

 

1. THESIS & INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH

 

        All papers must begin with a simple, clear, concise thesis statement. The thesis statement should tell what is the point of your paper, stated in one sentence. What are you arguing?

        The point of the first paragraph is to provide an introduction to your topic. This involves offering an explanation of the problem you are addressing. It is also often helpful to provide a working definition of any important terms in your thesis statement that may be under investigation (ex., justice, courage, prejudice).

        If you have a hard time organizing your work, or if people often say that the way you develop your ideas is hard to follow, it will be a good idea to include a programmatic statement of how you will demonstrate the validity of your thesis.

        The introductory paragraph may include, or be prefaced by, a "Grabber statement" of some sort that is relevant to your argument.

 

 

2. BODY PARAGRAPHS

 

Premises

        In order to write persuasively and coherently, you will develop your thesis (the central idea of your paper) by offering your reader several distinct premises that support your argument or thesis statement.

        A premise is a reason that makes your literary idea plausible or convincing. Always try to offer your reader a number of different premises in support of your thesis.

        Deal with each of your different premises separately. Always link them back to your thesis for your reader.


Supporting textual/literary evidence

        The validity of each premise must be demonstrated through careful use of supporting evidence (i.e., quotations, paraphrases, reasoned discussion, interpretation of facts, symbols, or imagery). All evidentiary facts, quotes, paraphrases, and interpretive passages used in support of each premise must be correctly categorized. Decide which quotes support which premise of your thesis.

        All quotes and paraphrases should be correctly documented with page numbers.

 

Example:

Page 65 of the original text:

Jimmy loved to run over small animals with his truck. He roared with sadistic laughter when they went, "Squeal!" Jimmy was a very sick young man.

 

Direct quote:

"Jimmy loved to run over small animals with his truck. He roared with sadistic laughter when they went, 'Squeal!' Jimmy was a very sick young man" (65).

 

Paraphrase:

Jimmy's pathological behaviour is demonstrated most vividly by his sick delight in killing small animals on the road (65).

 

        Never begin or end a paragraph with a quotation. Quotations are not self-explanatory; they always need to be introduced and explained. You must interpret every quote, showing how it is relevant to the particular premise that you are developing.

 

3. CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH

 

The final paragraph of your critical essay should tie all of your various premises back to your thesis statement. You may include a short statement about any perceived short-comings in your ideas or interpretation of the text. It is also beneficial to include some statement of why your argument is important or insightful ("So What?").

 

PLEASE DEMONSTRATE PRIDE IN YOUR LITERACY: Your work must be proof-read for spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. All paragraphs must be indented, and good paragraph form is essential. See my notes on "How to Write Good Stuff."