All Roads Lead To The 5 Paragraph Essay
A 5 part Mini-Series Based on this Conventional Form
Not all students have mastered the writing endurance needed to transition from middle school writing to the literary criticism essays or historical analysis assignments of high school. It’s like being asked to run a marathon after years of running only three or four miles, but it can be coached. I was working with a 9th grader who was going off to boarding school and felt anxious about the strength of his writing skills. He knew he could write an essay, but he wanted to impress his teachers, he said. He wanted to feel empowered by his writing; he wanted to feel confident, not tentative.
Our first meeting was at the local library. He wasn’t reading anything juicy that he felt like writing about, so we did some creative non-fiction drills. My only rule was that the essay had to be five paragraphs. This felt so long to him. Basically, it felt like school to him. We chatted about how form can be liberating; it can be like taking a walk in the woods at night with a path versus without one.
Then, the student needed a topic. He looked out the window and saw two huge trees swaying in the wind. The sky was dark and the air was humid; we’d have a summer storm soon. The boy said, “What if those trees hit this library?” I pointed to the paper. “I’ll start with the day and how it turned black outside and then describe all the things that happened in the storm.”
“You only need three things,” I said. “Remember—three examples for three body paragraphs.”
He looked relieved. “Only three? This will be easy.”
I was going to tell him nothing’s easy, but he’ll learn that on his own!
- Prologue – 5 Tips to Writing A Persuasive Five Paragraph Essay
- Episode 1 – 5 Paragraph Essay and the High School Application Prompt
- Episode 2 – 5 Paragraph Essay and The College Common Application
- Episode 3 – 5 Paragraph Essay and The High School Junior
- Episode 4 – Spring Into High School With the Fail-Proof 5 Paragraph Essay
By Elizabeth England, Writing Coach