By Tara Bartlett
It can be hard to know what to put in an essay, especially when entering
a new major or new school. There are basic elements that are
required of students when they write their papers, aside from following
the prompt given by an instructor. I learned an acronym in high
school that has helped me with all of my essays that I have written
with this in mind, and I think it would be valuable to share this
memory device with anyone who reads this. The acronym is F.I.V.E.:
Fluency, Insight, Voice, and Evidence. Follow these basic guidelines,
and it is hard to go wrong!
There are a couple points to remember under this category. First,
show your reader that you are fluent in the English language.
Demonstrate proper grammar, syntax, and show that you know a good
variety of words.
Also, make your paper FLOW. Make use of transitions, and carry
one idea to another instead of jumping around. Each paragraph
in a well developed expository essay should connect in some way to
every preceding paragraph.
SAY SOMETHING! The English Department at Sac State, and probably
everywhere where people care about proper thought development, want
a point to what you write. Are you making a comparison between
two somethings? Tell your reader(s) why it matters to draw that
comparison! What makes it important?
The #1 question to remember when thinking of this category is “So
what?” If you ask that question for every paper you write, and
try to answer it, you will have a clear purpose and people will know
why the heck they are reading your paper.
Give your paper an opinion. Take a stance. Though it is
good to demonstrate an ability to look at two sides of an argument,
it is better to take a firm position and stick to it. You will
appear decisive, strong, and insightful (see above)!
You will always have to generate credibility for an argument or analysis.
Did Hamlet really say that? Prove it! Cite exactly where
in the play he says that particular statement. Do three out
of every four English majors really need a good spa treatment?
Tell your readers where you got that statistic and what kind of person
came up with it—doctor, psychologist, whatever. You want to
appear as an authority on your topic/argument by quoting authorities
in addition to providing your own strong analysis. Evidence
is a way of saying, “Look! All these other people agree with
me, so you should agree with me too!”
** These four guidelines are a sure-fire way to focus your papers
and display your brilliant analyses with clarity and power.
Writing good papers takes practice, and each task will be a whole
lot easier with F.I.V.E. in mind!*