After you have a topic idea, what's next? You have to develop information that you will put into your essay and decide on your audience and purpose. Then you will need to decide the point of view, tone, and style of writing you will use. Sound confusing? Don't worry. Just answer the following questions to get ready to write. You can open up a word processing program, copy these questions, and then answer them, or do it the old-fashioned way with paper and pen.
- Topic idea: ______________________________________________. (Write yours out.)
- What kind of expository essay is this? (How to? How does it work? Definition? Fact? Cause? History of?)
- List or cluster different aspects or parts of your topic.
- Circle the aspects which are most interesting to you. Cluster those.
- Do you have enough to say or too much? Do you need to narrow your topic or expand it?
- What sources can you use? Where can you find them?
- What are some things your audience would be familiar with which you can compare your topic with?
- What do they already know?
- What would they be interested in knowing?
- What kind of tone would be best for this audience? (informational, satiric, humorous, folksy, professional?)
- Considering your audience, which point of view would be the most effective one to write in? Would it be better to write in the first person ("I" or "we"), second person ("you"), or third person (impersonal)?
Write Your Thesis
- Your purpose (What do you want audience to think, do, or know after reading? This will be related to what your audience doesn't know.)
- Turn your topic into a question: ___________________________________________
- Answer that question: __________________________________________________
- Make a thesis statement: _______________________________________________
- Essay map—sentence(s) which list main sub-topics: ______________________________________________________________ (These can be headers for sections of the paper.)
- Which sort of organization would work best for you? Examples: chronological (in time), spatial (in space and time), process (step-by-step), topical (part-by-part), cause/effect, historical overview, comparison and contrast, or reverse expectations.
- Write a brief outline for how you will structure the body of the paper.
Intro and Conclusion
- Which of these introduction and conclusion ideas could you use? Reverse expectation, expectation fulfilled, scenario (imagined typical story, also called a case study), personal story, frame story, vivid description, conversation, definition, comparison and contrast, analogy, startling statistic or fact, quotation, story from book or movie.
- Choose the best one(s) for your essay and explain what you will do.
Tone, Voice, and Style
- Which person will you write in for your essay? (1st “I,” 2nd “you,” or 3rd “he, she, it.”) Why?
- What sort of tone will you have? Why? (Example: serious and informative, humorous, sarcastic, enthusiastic.)
The Great Gatsby and the Great War
by Feross Aboukhadijeh, 11th grade
The Great War, more commonly known as World War I, influences F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel in many important ways. The War directly causes Gatsby to lose his lover Daisy and is responsible for his Montenegro medal and significant “Oxford education”.
World War I forced many young American men to leave their family to fight a war in unfamiliar European territory. Unexpectedly drafted into a conflict that they had little concern for, the War inexplicably altered the lives of millions of Americans. Faced with terrible conditions and unbridled inhumanity many soldiers returned home insane or permanently shocked from their war experiences. To add insult to injury, the government failed in its duty to assist veterans economically after they returned from the War. For Gatsby, World War I meant that he would have to leave his sweetheart Daisy behind while he fought overseas. Though they regularly sent letters to each other at first, Daisy eventually grows tired of waiting for Gatsby and marries Tom Buchanan; Gatsby literally loses Daisy to the War. When Gatsby returns he is extremely poor, barely surviving from day to day. He is forced to wear his military uniform for months after his return because he is unable to purchase civilian clothing. When offered lunch by Meyer Wolfshiem, Gatsby “ate more than four dollars' worth of food in half an hour” (179). Without money Gatsby could no longer attract Daisy like in his youth. Gatsby’s sad story was echoed by an entire generation of American veterans.
When horrible images and nightmares of war haunted a soldier’s dreams upon his return, one of the few things he could have pride about were his metals. Symbols of brave, courageous deeds, metals offered a soldier honors and welcome when he returned home. Many decorated soldiers were hailed as national heroes at first, but were quickly forgotten. In Gatsby’s case, he fought bravely in a number of important battles and was promoted to the rank of “Major” earning honors from “every Allied nation”. Of particular significance to Gatsby was the metal from “little Montenegro” which he carried with him throughout the story for good luck.
Upon their return, some lucky soldiers were offered opportunities for higher education. The U.S. government attempted to compensate soldiers for their time in service with higher education but fell short; hundreds of thousands of uneducated soldiers became “bums” upon their return to the U.S. Gatsby was one of the soldiers fortunate enough to attend Oxford University. However, Gatsby’s stay was only five months long and was especially consequential because it was the final event that lost him Daisy.
After World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity and entered a period known as the Roaring 20s as the economy soared. However, for many American veterans the illusion of prosperity presented by the 1920s could not compensate for precious time lost forever to the War.
Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Sample Informative Essay - "Great War"" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/english/sample-essays/informative-essay-great-war/>.