Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay

Report
Where no five-paragraph essay has gone
before!
(© DBU University Writing Center)
by Mark J. Boone; edited by UWC staff:
Lisa Crawford, Lead Editor
Review of the Five Paragraph
Essay………...……………………………...slides 3-5
Go Beyond the Five-Paragraph
Essay………………………………………..slides 6-7
Break the Letter of the Law; Obey the
Spirit……….……………………………...slides 8-10
 The
five-paragraph essay has a very rigid structure.
 There
is a thesis statement that presents a
contention, or argument, with three reasons why the
reader should consider agreeing with the contention.
•
Each body paragraph deals with one of those three reasons.
 The
thesis statement usually appears at the end of
the introductory paragraph.
 Each body paragraph has a topic sentence.
• Topic sentences present the contention dealt with in that paragraph and
sums up the coming paragraph.
• The topic sentence is like a mini-thesis statement for the paragraph, but it
also relates back to the thesis statement.
 The
five-paragraph essay is usually inappropriate for
some writing assignments, such as:
• Composing poetry
• Free writing
• Composing fiction
• Journaling
• Writing letters

The five-paragraph essay has advantages both for its
writer and its readers ...
• Unity. Because the thesis statement and the paper talk about
the same thing, the paper is always getting its point across
and never changes topics.
• Clarity. Because the topic sentences summarize a section of
the paper and connect that section back to the thesis, the
readers are constantly being reminded how the details fit into
the general idea of the paper.
• Organization. Both the writer and the reader know how each
part of the paper falls into the paper’s overall structure.
• The five-paragraph essay is brief and concise.
 The
five-paragraph essay basically exists so that it can
be transcended.
 Writers
are not supposed to ignore the rules of the
five-paragraph essay for their entire writing career,
but they should not always be governed by its
elementary principles.
 Especially
as one moves into papers that are a little bit
longer than just five short paragraphs, the rules of the
five-paragraph essay will have to be bent a little bit ...

The first rule to stop following is the one about the number of
paragraphs.
• For instance, there might be a need to spend two paragraphs on one of
the three points, or the introduction might consist of two short
paragraphs.

The next rule that does not retain its importance is the one
about three main points.
• Just two reasons to support the thesis are not usually enough, but four or
more reasons are often useful.

A guideline that does not need to be followed is that the thesis
statement occurs at the end of your first paragraph.
• It could occur in the middle or even at the beginning; it could even be in
a different paragraph--just as long as it is still clear which is the thesis
statement.
 But
even in leaving behind the legalistic rigidity of
the five-paragraph essay, one should still follow its
general rules.
 It
is recommend that several of the general rules of
the five-paragraph essay be followed in extended
research projects of at least 8 pages.
• The thesis statement still introduces the main points of the
paper.
 In some longer papers the “thesis statement” may take up one or two whole
paragraphs and may or may not appear at the end of the introductory
section of your paper.
 The thesis will still introduce the main points of the paper and give the
reader a feel for what comes next.
• Another rule writers should keep is a modified version of the
rule about topic sentences.
 Instead of having a sentence at the beginning of each main point, simply
make an effort to always explicitly connect the main point of your paper
back to your thesis statement.
 Following
these rules help to keep the paper
organized and clear.
• There will be fewer things that are not very important to the
topic.
• There will also be more things that actually support the
thesis.
 Communication
is enhanced. Readers know what is
going on in the paper.

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