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Organizing Writing Ideas Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Organizing an Informative Essay

Informative essays are often organized by comparing and contrasting, or by cause and effect. These patterns allow the writer to include lots of details and show a balanced view of the topic. Organizing by cause and effect also emphasizes logic and evidence rather than the author's opinion. Not all topics will fit well into these two organizational patterns, but they are good options to consider when you're writing this type of essay.

The Narrative Essay

A narrative essay's purpose is to entertain. Narrative is another word for story. Essays are a nonfiction genre, so a narrative essay tells a true story. Generally authors choose a short, specific story that can be fully described in a single essay. The story should be personal and show the writer's feelings and reactions to the events. Like other essays, though, the narrative essay has a thesis. The author has something to say about the story, such as a lesson he learned from the experience.

This paragraph is from a narrative essay. As you read, notice how its style and organization are different from the informative essay example.

Baseball at Hulldown

When I was seven years old, my father took me to see the Dowshire Ducks play minor league baseball at Hulldown Stadium. From the first moment I stepped into the stadium, I was captivated by baseball. Long rows of scuffed metal benches stretched like giant arms embracing the field. Peanut shells and popcorn littered the floor, filling the air with a scent no seven-year-old can resist. The stands were practically empty—it was a Thursday afternoon—but the shouting fathers and stickyfingered children sitting around us seemed like the happiest people I'd ever met. I felt as though I had stumbled on a secret world.

In this essay introduction, the reader learns that the author is going to tell about an experience he had. This tells you that it's a narrative essay. The setting is a baseball stadium, and the characters are the author at age seven and his father. The author gives us details about the sights, smells, and sounds, and how they affected him. You can also begin to guess at the author's thesis. The baseball stadium seems to have been a strong, positive experience that probably sparked a lifelong love of baseball.

Organizing a Narrative Essay

Narrative essays are usually organized chronologically, because that is often the easiest way to tell a story. Even though a narrative essay tells a true story, all the rules of good fiction storytelling apply. The people in the story should be introduced and described to the reader. Many sensory details—sights, smells, sounds—should be included to help the reader picture the scene. The story should have a beginning, middle, and end. The plot, though, is less important than the author's reflection or analysis. After telling the story, the writer concludes with the point of the story, such as the lesson learned or the long-term effects of the experience.

The Persuasive Essay

The purpose of a persuasive essay is to persuade the reader to do something or believe something. The basis for the essay is a strong opinion supported by facts or other details. As a critical reader, you've learned how writers use persuasive language in editorials and advertisements. Now you can use those same skills to write your own convincing essays. Here's an example of an introduction to a persuasive essay.

Protect Hulldown Stadium

Last month, the Dowshire Planning Commission announced that Hulldown Stadium, home of the Dowshire Ducks minor league baseball team, will close in November. According to the Commission's statement, the stadium is old and in need of major repairs. They believe that it would be cheaper to tear down the stadium and build a new one across town. But Hulldown Stadium is a local landmark. It has been the home of the Ducks for three generations. Thousands of children spend their summers sipping root beers and eating soft pretzels in Hulldown's green metal bleachers. The stadium is more than a building; it's a symbol of our community spirit and our common love of baseball. Whatever the cost, the stadium must be saved.

The writer begins the article with facts, and then begins to introduce opinions. There are many clues in the word choice, style, and tone that reveal the author's perspective. For example, in describing the commission's reasoning for tearing down the stadium, the writer includes the phrase they believe. This phrase casts doubt on whether it really is cheaper to build a new stadium, and suggests that the writer disagrees with this plan.

When you are writing a persuasive essay, try to look at your essay from the perspective of a critical reader. Have you included enough information to build a convincing argument?

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