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TeacherLore

Beginnings, middles and ends (for writers)

The Washington Post has a good article by Dennis Drabelle on the basics of writing an essay: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Each part is developed with an extended example, using W.S. Merwin, Walter Bejamin, and Hannah Arendt.

Most student writers have trouble with introductions and conclusions (or ledes and endings) because to write them well they need to know what the main point of their essay is. This is hard, especially if the young writer is trying to incorporate new ideas and information into his or her understanding. The writer may have quite a few details that loosely fit under a topic without yet having them organized into a coherent thought.

The writing teacher needs to point out the problem, and the way various details don’t all lean toward the same conclusion, or the way a reader moving through the piece doesn’t get a sense of momentum toward a goal and begins to feel the writer is wandering and jumping from detail to detail without a plan a reader can easily follow.

It helps to have brief example of strong writing, so the teacher can show and not just tell. Writing teachers should enjoy this brief essay.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 08/27 at 01:44 PM

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