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Arts & Letters Daily


Writing Tutorial – Essay Format

While scientists are debating global warming … Canadians need to act! This statement can trigger arguments among friends and foes … provided they are concerned about ‘global warming’ and/or Canada. The statement confronts people with controversy … often leading to heated verbal exchanges. Others blog, twitter or write essaysfor or against global warming and its impact on Canada.
Of course, this is only part of what an essay needs to do. Here are the thinking strategies for writing an effective essay.

Suppose Jim wrote an essay on the effect of global warming on Canada. What is the most effective way for Jim to get me to read his essay? First of all, he has to grab my attention … by answering the question – ‘Why would I want to read his essay about global warming?’ As you can see in the opening sentence, he has done that by telling me that scientists are debating the issue of global warming. This suggests to me that there is uncertainty about ‘global warming’ … is it happening or not? Now I need to find out more about that uncertainty … he has got me hooked.
But, just what is the issue? Again in the opening sentence, he is telling me that global warming might result in negative consequences for Canadians, and I live in Canada. Now I know why I am interested in his essay … he is writing possibly about my future! That concerns me a great deal.
I can see why he has written an essay and not just a report. He wants to warn me about possible dire consequences for me as a Canadian. I am ready to read his essay … I want to see his arguments because I have never thought about global warming as having serious consequences for me in Canada.
THINKING STRATEGY # 3Pro & con arguments
Now I am ready to hear his ‘for and against arguments’ about global warming. But, I really do want to hear both sides of the argument that scientists are debating. If I don’t hear both sides as presented by scientists, I will be disappointed. I don’t just want to hear his opinions … I want to hear about the information presented by scientists.
Don’t just give me the general points made by scientists … I want to hear about the detailed facts presented on both sides. In other words, elaborate the position on both sides of the argument. Convince me.
Since Jim has done the research on the debate raging among scientists about global warming, I am interested in his conclusion. It may help me arrive at my own conclusion. I may need to look for more information or I may accept his conclusion.
Notice that I have described the process of writing an essay from the perspective of what readers want to see in an essay. They want an introduction – which will determine whether to will read your essay; a body – which presents the pro and con arguments supported by facts; and a conclusion – which may help me arrive at my own conclusion.

In conclusion, remember one thing – FOCUS ON THE READER. You want the reader to take your arguments seriously; to be convinced about your conclusion.
Let’s read Jim’s essay as well as the analysis that follows which shows how he followed the suggestions I made.

Time is Running Out
While scientists are debating whether the people of the earth should be concerned about global warming, Canadians need to act. This is not said to belittle the debate among scientists; their research provides vital information. However, since many scientists claim that the global warming trend is likely to have negative consequences, the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind.
Why the people of Canada? Many scientists agree that if the atmosphere continues to get warmer, many regions will experience negative effects. True, some regions may enjoy some benefits. For example, the farmers on the prairies might enjoy a longer growing season.
But, most Canadians would suffer negative consequences. The Maritimes and the West Coast would experience coastal flooding; arid regions of southern Alberta would turn into deserts; and the permafrost in the Yukon would decay more and more. Skiers would have fewer places to ski in British Columbia , Ontario and Quebec because of a shortage of snow. The fish migration patterns along the eastern shoreline might change so much that the prime fishing areas may disappear. All these changes together would have a negative impact on the lifestyle of most Canadians.
Of course, more research is needed to determine the impact of global warming. But that is not good enough for responsible Canadians. We need to take steps immediately to slow down the global warming trend. Canadians should object more strongly to clear cut logging in British Columbia. We must change from being one of the highest users in the world of fossil fuels to one of the lowest.
This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it. Not to respond to the threat of global warming would be like ignoring a tornado warning. Let’s not wait till devastation is upon us.
Essay Format
1. Introduction – Thesis
The thesis is stated in the introduction. It serves as the focus of the essay.
– the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind
2. Con Argument
– True, some regions may enjoy some benefits.
3. Pro Argument
most Canadians would suffer negative consequences
4. Elaborate – Describe
In this essay, the writer chose Description as the strategy for elaborating the pro and con arguments. Description is a common way of elaborating.
Organization – arrangement in space
– prairies; Maritimes; West Coast; southern Alberta; British Columbia; Ontario; Quebec; eastern shoreline
Select specific words
– enjoy a longer growing season, experience coastal flooding, arid regions, permafrost in the Yukon would decay, fish migration patterns, prime fishing areas
5. Conclusion
The conclusion must be based on the arguments as presented
This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it.
There are many more ‘tricks of the trade’ for writing essays. I have listed them under Writing Essays in the menu bar.
Try this …
  1. Go to, click on Writing and go to WRITING ESSAYS. Read the ESSAY and complete the template.
  2. Write an essay using the essay format to organize and to develop your ideas. After you are pleased with your essay, edit it for grammar to create a reader’s draft.
If you have any questions about the writing process, send them to Ask Dr. Otto at
Enjoy your writing experience.