In the prewriting stage of a researched essay, you will do a lot of reading and information gathering. In this stage of the process, you should keep your information organized carefully so that you can find it when it comes time to write your essay.
In your essay, you will describe either the causes or effects of a topic. The topic may be a problem (e.g., poverty), or it may be a good thing (e.g., economic stability). You are not trying to solve a problem in your essay. In shorter essays, you may be asked to only consider causes or only consider effects. In longer essays, it may be more appropriate to consider both. Always be sure to understand what your teacher expects for the scope of your essay.
You can do two types of research: preliminary research and detailed research. Preliminary research is when you first search for general information about a topic. You are getting familiar with a topic and discovering interesting things about that topic that you might want to use in your essay. This is done when you are first thinking of ideas for your essay.
Remember that after you do enough preliminary research to brainstorm and choose your focus, you should do more detailed research about your topic so that you can make your outline. This is were you will find specific sources with evidence to support your main ideas such as facts, statistics, and statements that you can quote or paraphrase. You will do both preliminary research and, later, detailed research to write your essay.
Simple Google searches with either “causes of” or “effects of” might be a good place to start if you aren’t sure what to write about. You may also participate in a discussion with a friend or classmate to try to generate possible topics. Consider discussing trying to answer some of questions like the following:
You could also start by thinking about positive benefits that people look for or problems we face.
Then examine the causes/effects of that topic. Many students get confused writing this type of essay because they choose a topic and develop body paragraphs about the causes as well as the causes of the causes. Put your topic in the center and build around it.
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If this brainstorm was turned into an essay with each cause and cause of a cause and the cause of a cause of a cause getting a paragraph, the essay on the left would have eleven body paragraphs. The essay on the right would have four. Also, the essay on the left would have to explain how good time management caused follow-through, but that good time management was caused by self-discipline which causes hard work where follow-through caused trust. It is possible to do this, but it is complex and could get confusing. You could easily end up writing a book on how to have business success. When writing a cause-effect essay for a school assignment, consider what you will reasonably be able to write in the time and length constraints of the assignment. For a school essay and most short-form writing, you want to limit your ideas to a few. Focus in on just one thing and develop it well.
For this example, the better essay would be the one on the right with four well-developed paragraphs with a clear relationship to the topic. Each could be a well-developed body paragraph. Or, if the writer wanted to, they could focus in even more and only write about how trust leads to business success. The body paragraphs for that could be about how trust between different businesses that work together, between customers and businesses, and between employees and employers leads to business success.
2 Possible Options:
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As a writer, you can choose to make the focus of your essay as broad or narrow as you want, but keep in mind that you will need to thoroughly develop the ideas you choose to include. To write an essay, consider how narrow your essay needs to be to develop it throughly.
You can also begin an outline for your essay while doing the preliminary research and choosing a focus. An outline is a working document that may be changed as your organize your ideas. As you research about your topic, start organizing your findings.
Some people begin with an outline by listing topics and quotes. Others write topic sentences and supporting sentences. Some start with their thesis statement and topic sentences and use questions and quotes to develop their ideas. Each person may have a unique way of organizing their ideas and research findings.
However you outline, your outline should include your main idea and supporting ideas ordered in the way you could present them in an essay.
Your introduction should describe in general terms the topic you will write about in your essay. At the end of your introduction paragraph, you should write your thesis. The thesis should clearly state a cause or effect relationship.
Here are some phrases that are useful for writing a cause/effect thesis:
Your body paragraphs should explain how or why your thesis sentence is true. As you plan each of your body paragraphs, remember that using sources will make your writing more credible and interesting. Use sources properly so that you do not plagiarize.
Make sure your topic sentences connect to your thesis. Look at the example below for how the topic sentences should connect to your thesis.
|Although the rise of fast fashion has improved clothing affordability for the public, it has also caused ethical and environmental issues.
|First of all, the fast and cheap production that characterizes fast fashion has had some positive effect on the world by making clothing more affordable for consumers.
|Although cheap to buy, the true price of fast fashion can be seen in the poor working conditions of fashion industry laborers around the world.
|Furthermore, fast fashion has had a negative impact on the environment both in its production and its disposal.
All of the topic sentences are about fast fashion. All of the topic sentences focus on one of the effects of fast fashion: affordability, poor working conditions, and environmental impact. The topic sentences also include cohesive devices such as adverbs and conjunctions to show the effects' relationship to the topic of fast fashion.
Your conclusion paragraph should start by restating your thesis. Then you should speak about the main idea in more general terms and apply the topic from your body paragraphs to a more global context. End with a concluding statement that your reader will remember your essay by.
As you outline your body paragraphs and choose research, make sure the quotes you use support your topic sentence.
Use the topic sentences to create the thesis for this outline.
Revise the theses to be more effective for a cause/effect essay.
Use the topic sentences to create the thesis for this outline.
Read the basic outline below. What would you do to help a classmate or friend that wrote an outline like this?
Choose source material from the quotes below that would support the following topic sentence. (Don’t choose an entire quote if the whole quote doesn’t support the TS.)
TS: Volcanic eruptions can occur due to an incerase in the amount of magma in the chamber.
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