One of the classic formats for writing an essay is to use the five paragraph essay model. This is a basic format to use when developing writing skills, as it can be developed into a more complex format for advanced writers. This format breaks down the essay into five paragraphs – the introductory paragraph, three body or supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
The job of the introductory paragraph is to get the reader interested in the topic of the essay, as well as to tell the reader what the main idea of the essay will be about. There are three essential items that should be included in the introductory paragraph in order for it to achieve its goal. First, the paragraph must begin with an interesting sentence that will capture the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read more. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Some techniques include surprising the reader, telling the reader a quick anecdote or story, providing a short historical review of the topic, and using the name or quote of a famous person. The second item that needs to be included is a thesis statement, which is a short, yet purposeful, summary that tells the reader what the paper will be about. A thesis statement should never be so direct as to announce that, ‘This essay will be about…,’ or ‘In this paper I will write about… .’ The last component of an introductory paragraph is a transition sentence which guides the reader into the body paragraphs.
There are three body paragraphs that comprise the five paragraph essay. The first sentence of the first body paragraph needs to tie into the last sentence of the introductory paragraph so that there is a smooth transition for the reader. The next couple of sentences need to clearly state the topic of the paragraph, which should be connected to the thesis statement for the essay as a whole. In this paragraph you will find the writer’s strongest argument, best examples, and clearest illustrations. The final sentence needs to be a gentle transition or a hook that will lead the reader to the second body paragraph.
The second and the third body paragraphs should be structured in a similar fashion as the first body paragraph. They both need to begin with a sentence that ties into the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Again, this is to provide a smooth transition from paragraph to paragraph so that all the paragraphs fit together easily as a whole. The topic of each paragraph should appear in the first couple of sentences, and they need to tie into the main idea stated in the thesis statement. The last sentence of each paragraph needs to transition into the following paragraph with ease. The information presented in the second body paragraph should contain the writer’s second strongest argument and examples, while the third body paragraph should contain the writer’s least important arguments and examples.
The concluding paragraph should mimic the structure of the opening paragraph. It should restate the thesis statement in new language so that the meaning remains the same, but the language is different. Next, a summary of the main ideas presented in the three body paragraphs should be summarized. The last sentence of the concluding paragraph and the entire essay should wrap up the paper in an interesting way so the reader knows he or she has come to the end.