Set the scene and state the theme. Say what you mean, and finish it clean!"
One of the hardest parts of writing is finding a way to make sense of what you want to say, explain, or convey to your readers--especially when facing an empty page with a half an hour to kill and an entry to write (or a timed essay or exam writing prompt). Here is a quick formula that might help you when you need to create a writing piece "on the fly." At the very least, it should guide you as your write in your blog, and at the very least, it will reinforce that any essay needs to be at least three paragraphs long! I've always told my students (who are probably tired of hearing me recite the same things over and over again): "If you know the rules, you can break them." But you'd better be a pretty solid writer before you start creating your own rules. The bottom line is that nobody really cares about what you write; they care about how your writing affects and transforms them intellectually and emotionally as individuals. If a reader does not sense early on that your writing piece is worth reading, they won't read it, unless they have to (like your teachers), or they are willing to (because they are your friend). Do them all a favor and follow these guidelines and everyone will be happy and rewarded. Really!.
Set the scene and state the theme: Use your first paragraph to lead up to your theme. If the lead in to your essay is dull and uninspired, you will lose your readers before they get to the theme. If you simply state your theme right off the bat, you will only attract the readers who are "already" interested in your topic. Your theme is the main point, idea, thought, or experience you want your writing piece to convey to your audience. (Often it is called a "Thesis Statement.) I suggest making your theme be the last sentence of your opening paragraph because it makes sense to put it there, and so it will guide your reader in a clear and, hopefully, compelling way. In fact, constantly remind yourself to make your theme be clear, concise and memorable. Consciously or unconsciously, your readers constantly refer back to your theme as mnemonic guide for "why" you are writing your essay in the first place! Every writing piece is a journey of discovery, but do everything you possibly can to make the journey worthwhile from the start.
Say what you mean: Write about your theme. Use as many paragraphs as you "need." A paragraph should be as short as it can be and as long as it has to be. Make the first sentence(s) "be" what the whole paragraph is going to be about. Try and make those sentences be clear, concise and memorable (just like your theme) and make sure everything relates closely to the theme you so clearly expressed in your first paragraph. If your paragraph does not relate to your theme, it would be like opening up the directions for a fire extinguisher and finding directions for baking chocolate chip cookies instead! And finally, do your best to balance the size of your body paragraphs. If they are out of proportion to each other, then an astute reader will make the assumption that some of your points are way better than your other points, and so the seed of cynicism will be sown before your reader even begins the journey.
Finish it clean: Conclusions should be as simple and refreshing as possible. In conversations only boring or self important people drag out the end of a conversation. When you are finished saying what you wanted to say, exit confidently and cleanly. DON"T add any new information into the last paragraph; DON'T retell what you've already told, and DON'T preen before the mirror of your brilliance. Just "get out of Dodge" in an interesting and thoughtful (and quick) way. Use three sentences or less. It shows your audience that you appreciate their intelligence and literacy by not repeating what you have already presented!
Set the scene; state the theme; say what you mean, and finish it clean is a simple rubric for writing to keep in your head as you read and comment, and to practice in your writing as you reflect and express yourself with words..
John Fitzsimmons Upper School English firstname.lastname@example.org tel. 978-793-1553 The Fenn School 516 Monument St, Concord, MA 01742