Pyramid Power

Many organizational patterns, especially outlines, are built on a hierarchical structure that classifies ideas and facts according to their level of generalization. At the top level is the thesis. Below this are the major conceptual divisions, each of which may be further divided along paragraph lines. This is the essential pattern of the Thesis/Support Essay, which takes the pyramidal structure through four levels (thesis, topic sentence, support sentence, detail).

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Basic Sentence Concepts

Our language organizes thoughts into sentences. As a core, these sentences have a two-part structure. For simplicity and easy reference, we can represent the two parts as follows:

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Tightening

Tightening means cutting extra words, all those that don't contribute to your message. Inexperienced writers often use far more words than necessary. They don't attach enough value to the individual word.

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Occasions for Informal Essays

A thoughtful letter to an old friend, a reflection on your education or ethnic heritage, a childhood reminiscence—these could all be informal essays. In writing, informality depends less on subject or structure than on the writing context. Informal essays assume a personal stance. They suggest close connections among writer, reader, and subject.

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Trying Out Ideas

By now, your project should be well underway. You've got a subject that genuinely interests you, and you've found a focus to guide your explorations. Now you need to begin systematically probing and exploring.

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Occasions for Argumentative Essays

Argumentation is everywhere—in congress and courtrooms, in corporate board rooms, at garden club meetings, and in millions of essays, reports, theses, and dissertations written at colleges and universities throughout the world.

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Occasions for Thesis/Support Essays

Thesis/support essays convey a central idea clearly and succinctly. Because thesis/support essays open up and expand upon a single main point, they're suited to short reports, position papers, and critical analyses. Because they can, with practice, be written quickly, they're also handy for essay exams and letters of application or recommendation. As you become familiar with them, you'll no doubt see other uses.

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