Essays are a source of information. Essays offer a perspective you may or many not agree with. Essays offer models to writers.
Essays teach writers: 1. How to handle information 2. How to structure the body of an essay 3. How to adapt your writing to a particular audience 4. How to begin your essay, make transitions, and end your essay 5. How to construct effective paragraphs and achieve sentence variety
That comparison and contrast essays can be organized in the subject-by-subject pattern or point-by-point pattern, That narratives are structured chronologically, and That cause and effect analyses are linear and sequential.
Prior to reading an essay: 1. Look at any biographical information provided about the author. 2. Look at the essay itself. What does the title tell you about the subject? Try to figure out the organizational pattern. Read the first sentence of each paragraph to get a sense of what the essay is about. 3. If there are questions at the end of the essay, read them and use them to guide you while reading the essay.
First read for the plot. Then reread the essay actively. Ask questions, look for answers, look for organizational structure, concentrate on themes or images, and concentrate on the evidence presented to support the thesis. Read each essay more than once.
How does the author structure the essay? How does the author select, organize, and present information? To whom is the author writing? How does the audience influence the essay?
Construct a brief outline of the essay. Find the thesis of the essay. It may be stated or implied.
If necessary, pause at the end of a paragraph and reread it for a full understanding. If an essay is difficult, you might need to read it several times to answer questions about the author’s thesis and purpose. Focus on the essay as an example of a writer’s craft. Look at the paragraphing. Look closely at the introduction and conclusion. Also, pay close attention to the author’s sentence structure.
Miller, George. The Prentice Hall Reader. 5 th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.