Do you want to write a five-paragraph essay that makes your mama proud? In case you missed it, here’s the secret ingredient: structure. These seven tips will help you formulate the perfect five-paragraph essay.
Start With an Outline
Mapping out your essay before you begin writing helps you stay on point. Start by jotting down the following subheads, inserting ideas and research as you see fit.
- Introductory Paragraph/Thesis Statement
- First Paragraph
- Second Paragraph
- Third Paragraph
Get to the Point
In your first few sentences, hook your reader by telling her what she can expect to learn. Let’s say you’re writing about the perks of starting a cake decorating business. Explain your essay’s focus in the introductory paragraph.
Good: “Are you a culinary artist who dreams of having her cake and eating it, too? If so, a career in cake decorating could be right for you.”
Bad: “First, find a recipe. Next, bake your cake. Now it’s time to decorate. That’s where the fun begins.”
The second example beats around the bush too much. If you don’t zero in on your main idea right away, you run the risk of confusing your reader.
Forecast Your Arguments in a Thesis Statement
Conclude your introductory paragraph with a thesis statement that ties your essay’s three forthcoming arguments together.
Good: “Owning your own cake decorating business can lead to artistic satisfaction, job security, and personal freedom.”
Bad: “Owning your own cake decorating business is a great idea.”
The second example is too vague. A quality thesis statement provides a concrete list of facts or ideas that your reader will internalize by the end of the essay.
Present Your Best Argument First
Present your best argument in the second paragraph. In this example, exactly why should your reader consider a career in cake decorating?
Good: “Decorators enjoy the artistic satisfaction of creating beautiful cakes for special occasions.”
Bad: “People like frosting cakes.”
Our vague second example tells the reader something she already knows. Don’t bore her with the obvious. Give her a compelling reason to jump into cake decorating.
Continue Your Arguments in Paragraphs Three and Four
A five-paragraph essay cannot stand on one argument alone. The third and fourth paragraphs should continue your pro-decorating sentiment.
Recall that the example thesis mentioned three cake-decorating perks: artistic satisfaction, job security, and personal freedom.
Address job security and personal freedom in paragraphs three and four. How does owning your own business provide job security? What are the benefits of being your own boss? If you’re not sure, brainstorm ideas via a Google search. Play with search terms such as “cake decorator,” “owning your own business,” and “personal freedom entrepreneur.”
Wrap Up Your Arguments
Wrap up your arguments by restating them in your concluding paragraph. It’s okay to repeat some of the same language you used in your introductory paragraph. Your conclusion is your last chance to persuade the reader, but make sure you don’t introduce any new ideas.
Rest, then Review with Fresh Eyes
Once you’ve finished your essay, put it away for a while. You’ll return to it with fresh eyes, and you’ll undoubtedly notice things you could change. It’s perfectly normal to draft three, five, or even ten versions of an essay before you’re completely satisfied.
If you don’t have time to set your piece aside, ask a friend to edit it. You might not agree with your friend’s critique, but your eyes will open to a reader’s point of view. Running an online plagiarism check is also smart.
All good writing adheres to a structure. When you write a five-paragraph essay, that structure is fixed and specific. However, the product you create within that structure is uniquely yours. What will your next five-paragraph essay be about?