The Accordion Essay
Simple Rules for Organizing an
Essay that Argues a Point
Writing and Expository Essay
Thesis
1. Support A
2. Support B
3. Conclusion
Support C
Writing and Expository Essay
Thesis
1. Support A
Support a1
Support a2
Conclusion A
2. Support B
Support b1
Support b2
Conclusion B
OVERALL CONCLUSION
Support C
Support c1
Support c2
Conclusion C
Writing an Essay Is Like Playing an
Accordion
• An accordion can be
squeezed or
stretched
• And so can an essay
Thesis
1. Support A
2. Support B
3. Conclusion
Support C
Thesis
1. Support A
Support a1
Support a2
Conclusion A
2. Support B
Support b1
Support b2
Conclusion B
OVERALL CONCLUSION
Support C
Support c1
Support c2
Conclusion C
Expository Structure
• Paragraph
–
–
–
–
–
Topic sentence
Support sentence 1
Support sentence 2
Support sentence …
Conclusion—
implication—transition
sentence
• Section
–
–
–
–
–
Introductory paragraph
Support paragraph 1
Support paragraph 1
Support paragraph…
Conclusion—
implication—transition
paragraph
The sentence
• Active sentences:
– Subject, action verb, object
– The meaning runs downstream
• Simple declarative sentences
– Divide your argument into sentences
– Don’t put the whole argument and its support
into one sentence
• Break the rules from time to time
The Last Shall Be First
• “I never know what I think until I write it.”
• Putting arguments down on paper forces
you to clarify and sharpen your ideas.
• You will know more about your argument
when you are finished.
– So go back to the beginning and always,
always rewrite your introduction
– Then go back to the end and rewrite your
conclusion
The Hook
• Finally, put some pizzazz
in your writing with a first
sentence designed to
capture your reader and a
last sentence to make
what you have said
memorable.
• This is a creative step—
not easily subject to rules
of thumb
• “Call me Ishmael”
• “It was the best of times:
it was the worst of times.”
The first and the last sentences in
the Bible:
• “In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth.”
• “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be
with you all. Amen.”
– Thesis--Conclusion
First Sentence in the Gettysburg
Address
• Four score and seven
years ago our fathers
brought forth on this
continent a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and
dedicated to the
proposition that all men
are created equal.
– Subject—forefathers
– Verb—brought
– Object—nation
• Direct, active sentence
Last Sentence in Gettysburg
Address
• “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us — that from
these honored dead we take increased
devotion to that cause for which they gave
the last full measure of devotion — that we
here highly resolve that these dead shall not
have died in vain — that this nation, under
God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from
the earth.”
Breaking the Rules
• Lincoln disguises four declarative sentences as one
sentence:
– that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that
cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion
– that we here highly resolve
– that these dead shall not have died in vain
– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom,
and
– that government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth
• Lincoln gets away with this complexity because all these
sentences have the same simple structure
– These are actually simple declarative sentences held together by
“that’s”
Conclusion
• Yes—every argument
must have a
conclusion
– Summary
– Consequences
– Implications
• And it needs a punch
line, something
– surprising,
– memorable, or
– Meaningful
An Example of a Hook & a Thesis
• The creditor-predators
have ripped open the soft
under-belly of American
society.
• By offering easy and
deceptive credit to home
buyers, they have
exposed millions of
Americans to massive
economic insecurity.
• The hook
• The thesis
Example of Support
• Banks have
developed a plethora
of “teaser loans,”
interest only loans,
balloon payment
loans, flexible rate
loans designed to
hide the true cost of
getting a home
mortgage.
• Banks have also
developed homeequity loans which
lure homeowners into
“taking the equity out”
of their house to pay
for vacations, new
cars and other
luxuries instead of
paying off their house.
Example of Conclusion and Punch Line
• Now millions of
Americans are facing the
loss of their homes as
“introductory” and
“flexible” interest rates
rise, balloon payments
come due, and home
equity disappears with
falling housing prices.
• Red of tooth and claw,
the creditor-predators are
now set to profit on
America’s misery by
loaning more money at
higher rates to sinking
households. Perfect!
American households are
drowning and the banks
are going to throw them a
rock!
How Is This an Accordion Essay?
• The last three slides could be
– Just one paragraph
– The topic sentences of 6 paragraphs
– The beginning sentences in six sections of a
long paper.
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that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that