How to Write a Two-Part Essay

Gathering details
writing a two-part Essay.
Gathering Details for Essays
Writing About a Person
When writing about or describing a person, make sure you collect plenty of
information. The following guidelines will help you collect specific details for
your writing.
Observe  If possible, carefully watch the person. Maybe the person laughs in a
special way or wears a certain type of clothing.
Investigate  Talk with your subject. Before the talk, write down a few questions to
ask. Then listen closely to the answers.
Remember  Recall a story that tells something important about your subject.
Compare  Could your subject be compared to some other person?
Writing About a Place
When describing or writing about a place, use details that help readers
understand why the place is important to you. The following guidelines will help
you collect the best details for your essay.
Observe  Study the place you plan to write about. Use photos, postcards, or videos if
you can't observe the place in person.
Remember  Think of a story about this place.
Analyze  What is the most important thing about this place? When is the best time to
go there?
Compare  Compare your topic to other places.
Writing a Definition
Put the term you are defining (coyote) into a class or category of similar
objects or ideas (wild member of the dog family). Then list special characteristics
that make this object different from other objects in that class (lives in a variety of
Term - A coyote
Class - is a wild member of the dog family
Characteristic - that lives in a variety of environments.
Writing About an Object
When writing about an object, tell your readers why this object is important
or special to you. Use the following guidelines to collect ideas and specific details
for your writing.
Observe  Think about these questions as you study your object: How is it used? Who
uses it? How does it work? What does the object look like?
Research  Learn about the object. Try to find out when it was first made and used.
Ask other people about it.
Define  What class or category does this object fit?
Writing About an Event
When writing about or describing an event, include enough details to make
the event come to life. Focus on the important actions or on one interesting part.
The guidelines below will help you collect details.
Observe  Study the event carefully. What sights, sounds, tastes, and smells come to
mind when you think of this event? Listen to what people around you are saying.
Remember  When writing about something that happened to you, list or cluster as
many of the event's details as you can recall.
List  Answer the who? what? when? where? and why? questions for the event.
Writing an Explanation
When writing an explanation, make your topic easy to understand. You may
be asked to explain how to do or make something, how some¬thing works, or how
to get from one place to another. The following guidelines will help you gather
details for your writing.
Observe  If possible, either observe or follow the steps you plan to share in your
writing. Pay close attention to the details so you can include them in your explanation.
Ask  Talk to people who know about your subject. Ask them questions about
anything you don't understand.
Research  If necessary, learn more about your topic. Find out what makes it
different or important.
Developing Two-Part Essays
The most challenging expository essays contain two parts: problem and
solution, cause and effect, comparison and contrast. The guidelines that follow will
help you develop two-part essays.
 Collect your own thoughts and additional information about your topic. Use
one of the graphic organizers included to keep track of your collecting.
 Create a starter sentence (thesis statement) for your essay after you have
gathered enough facts and details. Below is a sample thesis statement from a
cause-and-effect essay. The first part identifies the cause, and the second
part identifies one of the main effects.
Budget cuts in our school district (part 1: cause)
have led to fewer extracurricular activities (part 2: effect).
 List ideas or write freely about each part of your starter sentence. Keep the
ideas flowing for 5 minutes or more.
 Review your writing and mark any ideas that you would like to explore
further or use in your essay.
 Write your essay by connecting the ideas you've marked to include in your
 Revise and edit your draft after setting it aside for a while.
To develop a starter sentence for a two-part essay, complete one of the
starter ideas below.
For problem and solution essays:
…could be fixed if . . .
…won't change until…
For cause and effect essays:
Because of . . . we now…
When . . . happened, I (we, they)….
For comparison and contrast essays:
____and____are both . . . , but they differ in. . .
While____ and____have . . . in common, they also . . .
For before and after essays:
Once I (we, they, it) …. but now . . .
I (we, they, it) ….until….
Evaluating Expository Essays
Use this rubric as a checklist to evaluate the qualities of your expository
essays. The rubric follows the traits of effective writing.
Assessment Rubric
The essay...
 contains an effective thesis statement.
 contains specific facts, examples, or quotations to support the thesis.
 thoroughly informs readers.
includes a clear beginning, a strong middle, and an effective ending.
presents ideas in an organized manner.
uses transitions to link sentences and paragraphs.
speaks clearly and knowledgeably.
shows that the writer is truly interested in the topic.
explains or defines any unfamiliar terms.
contains specific nouns and active verbs.
flows smoothly from one idea to the next.
shows a variety of sentence lengths and structures.
observes the basic rules of writing.
follows the format required by the teacher, or follows some other effective design.
Kemper, Dave, Patrick Sebranek, and Verne Meyer, Write Ahead. Wilmington, Great Source Educational Group, 2003.