Notes compiled from
-Tom Humble, AP Presenter and
-Internet Guide to Critical Writing
- -delineate major points of work
- -maintains proportions of
original work's ideas
- -avoid personal comments
- -documents borrowed material
- -logical, fluent
Definition and Classification
- -categorize: genus,
differential, historical, philosophical,ideological, social perspective
- -define by example, context,
analogy, opposition, experience, tradition, description, etymology
- -identify limiting
- -appropriate details and
examples, vivid language
ON THE FIVE PARAGRAPH STANDARD:
The five-paragraph essay is one
type of classification paper. What was so magical about the number five
Nothing, really. In analyzing literature, however, students often find
examining moments in the beginning, middle,and end of a novel or play makes good structural sense. One can do a
thorough analysis of the manner in which anidea, a theme, image, etc. affects the entire piece of literature. At
some point in history, a teacher may have insistedon three body paragraphs as a way of insuring that students thought
through their ideas thoroughly. Three body
paragraphs is not a mandatory number for all topics.
Argument of Causal Reason
- -distinguish between cause to
effect OR effect to cause
- -considers singular or multiple
- -recognize COMPLEXITY in
- -avoids causal fallacies: post
hoc, singular cause, experiment without controls, small sample,
- -develops with appropriate
details and causal language (because, since, therefore,consequently,
- -analyzes a variety of causes
for single event OR synthetic-explains a variety of different elements
of some event.
In this structure, the writer
anticipates the reader's major objections to an argument and deals with
them in the
concession section. Let's say you set out to prove that some novel is
still relevant in this day and age. Yourreader's most effective argument against you would be that the book was
old-fashioned, dated. Therefore,
you anticipate that objection and deal with it before turning to the
assertion, evidence which you feel proves the opposite.
Choose one of two structures:
1) State the concession in your
introduction, making the thesis the assertion.
2) Use the mechanism to write a
Body Paragraph #1 (in which you
discuss the major points your critics might make)
Body Paragraph #2 (in which you
then, in the same order, dismiss those points by asserting that your
things on each point is a better way to interpret the book)
Remember: Always work outward from
the topic to a structure. If you begin with a structure and try to make
a topic fit it, you may find some of your ideas won't fit into the
structure. If you find yourself in such a mess,
you'll know you need to find another structure which fits your topic.
- -states title,author, date,
- -suggests in introduction how
the essay will be organized
- -textual PROOF, supporting
- -maintains focus, app. tone
- -uses transitions, strong action
- -draws conclusions in each
paragraph AND in final paragraph
-similar to literary analysis BUT
states thesis which asserts characters dominant impression upon the
supports this impression by: actions, thoughts, physical description,
- -thesis incorporates
- -focus on relationship between
subjects, provides details for this relationship
- -uses effective trans. to
connect similarities and differences
- -maintains parallel structure
-summarizes similarities/differences in concluding paragraph
- -discusses the significance of
Let's say you were asked to write
an essay on the way in which two authors treated the same theme, say,
people in times
of economic hardship, perhaps Dickens in Hard Times and Steinbeck in
The Grapes of Wrath. First, you would need to
think of your sub-topics. In this essay, those might be setting
(milltowns in Victorian England, the Dustbowl during
the Depression in the U.S.A.), characters, and events. Your essay would
then have one of two structures.
The simpler one is:
In the section on Steinbeck, you
would be comparing and contrasting his use of those elements with
A more sophisticated structure, but one which some writers have
difficulty handling effectively, would be:
Setting (Dickens and Steinbeck)
Characters (Dickens and Steinbeck)
Events (Dickens and Steinbeck)
Don't forget that, in writing this
paper, you are analyzing something you've set up in the introduction
writes better about people in a tough economic situation, for example,
or that Steinbeck is a more realistic writer than
Dickens and keep that focus always before your reader in the body
AP TERMS TO KNOW:
- tone shift
from paragraph to paragraph
- level of
- paucity of
- words "A,"
"B," and "C" to modify "D"
- main thesis
- point of
- author as
from well known authorities
- cause and
- fact and
- simile and
uses of language
("master" in lines 14-27 refers . .)
of "it" in lines 11, 12, and q24
- verb tense
phrase in context
- can be
probably intended to
- the phrase
*primary* function of the second paragraph
- the word
"then" in paragraph seven
- the fifth
paragraph to whole essay
sentence in the paragraph
- use of
that the audience is
to organize your analytical essay?)
Read the passage once; identify the speaker, situation, tone, and
Scan for the following; after finding these devices--ask yourself how
they relate to the purpose of the speaker.
- -is there
one unifying image
or inductive argument
- -what is
the sentence structure
-diction (connotative, denotative, euphemisms, pejoratives)
(metaphors, sensual imagery,personification) -syntax
-point of view
fallacies: ad hominem, begging the question,
either-or fallacy, false analogy, hasty generalization,
non sequitur, post hoc argument, questionable
authorization, red herring
metaphor, simile ,
onomatopoeia, apostrophe, epithet
TYPES OF SENTENCE STRUCTURE:
to me by a member of the AP online discussion
- 1. subject
- 1a. s v ;
however, s v
- 1b. s v ,
but s v; s v
- 1c. s v; s
v; s v .
|2. s v do or
sc ; s do or sc
independent clause : independent clause.
statement (idea) : specific statement (example).
- Little Red
Riding Hood lied: wolves don't eat grandmothers; they eat elk, bison, and deer.
- No one,
however, would deny that George Patton did what generals were
expected to do: he won battles.
- 4. a
series without a conclusion
- a, b, c
- a and b
- a, b, and c
|5. a and b,
c and d, e and f (paired items)
- 6. an
introductory series of appositives
appositive, appositive--summary word s v
- The petty,
the fallen, the cowardly--each played a role on the stage of Cervantes' vast human drama.
- 7. an
internal series of appositives or modifiers
- s appos.
appos. appos. v
necessary qualities for political life --guile, ruthlessness, and garrulity--he learned by carefully studying his
- 7a. s
- A sudden
explosion--artillery fire--signaled the beginning of a barrage.
- A familiar
smell, fresh blood, assailed his jungle-trained nostrils.
dependent clauses in a pair or in a series (at beginning or end of
if......, if......, then s v
when......, when..... s v
- s v
- When he
smelled the pungent odor of pine, when he heard the chatter of jays interrupting the silence,
when he saw the startled doe, the hunter knew he had reached the center of the forest.
repetition of a key term
- s v key
term or repeated key term
- s v key
term -- repeated key term
- s v key
term, repeated key term
- She was a
good mother, providing a good home for her good children.
- He was a
cruel brute of a man--brutal to his family and even more brutal to his friends.
variation: same word repeated in parallel structure
- s v
repeated key word in same position of the sentence
government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
emphatic appositive at end, after a colon
- s v word:
the appositive (the second naming).
left abandoned on a desert should avoid two dangers: cactus needles and
- 10 a. a
- s v word
-- the appositive (echoed idea or second meaning)
relatively few salmon that make it to the spawning grounds have another
old tradition to deal with --male supremacy.
interrupting modifier between s and v
- s --
modifier -- v
(modifier that whispers) v
- A small
drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, can make millions think.
- 11a. a
full sentence as an interrupting modifier
- s (a full
- s --a full
sentence -- v
famous question--early in the balcony scene she asks, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?"
--is often misunderstood; she meant not "where" but "why."
introductory or concluding participles
phrase , s v
- s v ,
us with their powerful guns, the heavily armed soldiers at the Rio
heavily armed soldiers guarding us with their powerful guns at the Rio
- 13. a
single modifier out of place for emphasis
- Modifier ,
the young mother called for help.
general demanded absolute obedience, instant and unquestioning.
prepositional phrase before s v
- Into the
arena rushed the brave bulls to defy death and the matador.
- Into the
valley of death rode the six hundred
- 15. object
or complement before s v
- His kind
of sarcasm I do not like.
- Up went
the steps, band went the door, round whirled the wheels, and off they
(Charles Dickens, THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP)
complete inversion of normal pattern
- object or
complement or modifier v s
- Down and
the street and through the mist stumbled the unfamiliar figure.
- 16. paired
- Not only s
v , but also s v
- Just as s
v , so too s v
- The more s
, the more s v
- The more
the Texas Ranger searched through the Hill Country, the more elusive the trail of train robbers became.
16a. a paired
construction for contrast only
- A " this,
not that" or "not this but that" construction
not stupidity, has limits.
- The judge
asked for acquittal --not conviction.
- I believe
that man will not merely endure; he will prevail.
dependent clause as a subject or object or complement
(dependent clause as subject) v
- s v
(dependent clause as object or complement)
- How he
could fail is a mystery to me.
- He became
what he aspired to be.
absolute construction (nouns plus participle) anywhere in sentence
construction , s v
absolute construction , v
blanket being torn, Linus cried on Charlie Brown's shoulder.
- The storm,
its fury abated, lights the way.
- 19. the
short simple sentence for relief or dramatic effect
- s v
- But then
- Jesus wept.
- The buck
- 20. A
short question for dramatic effect
word) auxiliary verb s v ?
word standing alone ?
based solely on intonation ?
verb s v ?
- Why did he
flunked modern dance?
- Have you
- 20 a. the
- Now, on
with the story.
- All to no
- But how?
Few Names of Other SENTENCE STYLES:
- A.The segregating
style of serial structure "One ring is always bigger
three. One rider, one aerialist, is always greater than six."
- B.The freight-train
sentence in serial structure--paratactic "In a week or
- two, all
would be changed, all (or almost all) lost; the girls would wear
the horse would wear gold, the ring would be painted, the bark
- would be
clean for the feet of the horse, the girl's feet would be clean
- for the
slippers that she'd wear. All, all would be lost."
- C.The triadic
sentence in serial structure "Out of its wild disorder comes
from its rank smell rises the good aroma of courage and daring; out
- of its
preliminary shabbiness come the final splendor."
- D.The centered
sentence in hierarchic structure "The last time I visited
- New York,
it seems to have suffered a personality change, as though it had
- a brain
tumor as yet undetected."
|Writing Effectively: Getting Started
on a Paper
The Introduction and Body
1. An introduction is a contract
between writer and reader. The writer promises to deliver the goods
described in the introduction.
2. An introduction should set up an
essay about one key idea only. This paragraph makes clear the
paper will be about one subject only.
3. An introduction should contain
These sub-topics make the general
idea of the essay more specific. They also move from broad to narrow
(country to individual) and, depending on how the writer interprets
things, from least important to most or
most important to least or both, if the writer's point is that one
audience viewed the ideas one way and another
audience viewed them differently.
4. An introduction need not be
State your thesis and give your
reader a general idea of the direction in which you are headed.
Writers encounter problems in this area in one of two ways.
The first is by writing an
unnecessarily-long preamble to the thesis.
For example, "Throughout the ages,
British literature has been popular. Shakespeare is probably
the most popular British author..." etc
The second way writers create
overly-long introductions is by placing in the introduction material
should go in the body paragraphs.
By doing this the writer will have
summarized the entire essay. One has no reason to read any further.
5. Remember, you are setting out to
analyze something, not merely to show that something is present in
a piece of literature.
Be sure there is a relationship
between the presence of the subject matter and the impact it has on the
of literature is present. Therein lies the ideal cause-and-effect
relationship at the heart of an essay because X
is present in this piece of literature, Y is possible.
The following introduction works.
Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, shows
how man's interaction with the supernatural leads to unnatural acts,
which in turn cause disastrous repercussions in the natural world. The
characters of the play put their trust
in the predictions of witches and fill their lives with unnatural acts
of brutal murder. The con-sequences are
dire; all aspects of natural life that were thought stable night and
day, sleep, and mental stability plunge into
tumult. The manner in which Shakespeare succinctly dramatizes this
chain of events makes it possible for
a modern viewer to enter the world of the play.
It works because the author of this
essay establishes a connection which allows for a greater depth of
6. Design your introduction so you
have something to return to in your conclusion.
7. Set up your introduction
correctly or be prepared for the consequences.
Remember: if you stumble in the
introduction, your essay is in trouble. Critical essays have a momentum
their own once you set them in motion.
The Body of the Essay:
Most of you find writing the middle
of an essay the easiest task and for a good reason. As we have seen,
if you have set up your introduction correctly, the essay should, in
part, write itself. What, then, should you
focus on in the body paragraphs?
1. Careful handling of sub-topics.
In choosing sub-topics, always
consider importance and order. Your reader should be able to tell from
you've chosen and arranged your sub-topics exactly what you're
For example, if you've chosen
sub-topics you felt were equally important, the reader should be able
to see that
thought pattern. If you've chosen sub-topics you felt were of unequal
importance, the reader should be able to
spot that fact also, as well as some pecking order, from the way you
discuss them, from least important to most
or the other way around, for example.
2. Write topic sentences which
allow you to analyze.
Topic sentences are analogous to
theses. If you create a weak topic sentence at the start of a
paragraph is in just as much trouble as an essay proceeding from a weak
3. Wise selection of passages from
the text to illustrate your points.
The way to avoid a paper which
remains a series of shallow observations is to support observations
with your text.
Direct your reader's attention to certain brief moments of the story,
and analyze how they work.
4. Effective use of transition.
A good place to begin may be
studying a list of transitional words in a grammar text. Then, think of
sentences, and paragraphs as structures which need bridges between them
for the reader to cross. Practice
pulling part of one sentence down into the next to create a kind of
bridge. Practice making reference back to
the end of the previous paragraph when you begin a new one. Your goal
should be a smoothly-flowing text
from the first sentence to the last.
5. Balance amongst the parts of
Your research paper involves a
comparison/contrast essay between two poems. Say, you've finished a
draft of your paper and sat back to go over it. In doing so, you take a
visual fix and discover the section on the
second poem is twice as long as that on the first or that the
conclusion is considerably longer than either section
of the body. Chances are you need to re-think your essay. Occasionally,
such unusual proportions may be
appropriate. For example, if your main point is that one poet is much
more skillful than
another, you may "dismiss" the
first writer's work and go into greater detail showing why the other is
As a general rule, however, some kind of logic should be readily
apparent in the appearance of an essay. If you
can't spot such a logic when you take your visual fix, re-think your