Friday, March 16, 2007


The other day, my younger cousin needed help writing a persuasive essay, but she didn't know how or where to start.

Sometimes you think you know what you want to write about, but it just doesn't come out on paper (or on your computer screen these days) or it comes out all jumbled and your readers can't make any sense of what you're trying to say!

So how do you get past this so called "writers' block?" My answer is brainstorming.

There are lots of ways to brainstorm your ideas. The goal of it is to get you writing, and in the process, organize those ideas. Here is what I do when I brainstorm:
  1. Jot down examples and words about the topic.

    • You're stuck right? But if you jot down your thoughts, it gets your motor running.

    • You may or may not use all of your ideas, but at least you have them written down to look at.

    • Who knows? The ideas you wrote down may spark other ideas.

    • Make note of things you need to research more about.

    • Save key words you may want to use in your essay.
      • For example, if you're writing about diversity, you might jot down the words "one-sided view," "mosaic," or "melting pot."
      • When you're writing, it's easier to refer to some of the words because you have them written down.

  2. Do some research.

    • Go online.
      • The Internet has so much information. Why not use it to get some?
      • Make sure your information is from a credible source.
      • Facts from some one's personal website from may not be reliable as facts from Scientific American.

    • Read some books. (Go to the library/bookstore.)
      • You can't trust all information on the Internet. At least books have been read and reviewed (hopefully, by a good reviewer).

    • See what other people have to say about your topic.
      • Get both sides of the argument.
      • Maybe you'll want to switch sides.

  3. Organize and group those ideas into main topics for body paragraphs.

    • Look at all your research.

    • For persuasive essays, pick a stance.
      • It's hard to write a persuasive essay if you don't have anything to persuade.
      • If you can't pick a side based on the facts, pick one that you think will be easier to write.
      • If later on, you find out that it wasn't a good or easy stance to argue, you can always change it and still use what you wrote about the opposing side. Just change the intention of why you're writing it.

    • Come up with a thesis sentence.
      • This is the main purpose of your essay.
      • Incorporate your stance and main topics for your body paragraphs.

    • Don't erase every thing you don't need.
      • Leave the words that aren't being used in case you can use them later when you write the essay.
Well, I hope that gets your ball rolling. Feel free to give your own brainstorming techniques in the comments.

Add & to Firefox search bar

A dictionary and thesaurus are two of the most powerful tools you use when writing.

This should make it easier for you to access them:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Affect vs. Effect

Cause and Effect
Originally uploaded by pixthree.

CommonTo have an influence onPollution affects everyone.
Used by psychiatrists
and psychologists
Feeling or emotionHe had a weird affect.
effectnounCommonThe result of an actionCause and effect.
That movie used cool special effects.
verbLess common
To createLet's effect some change.


  • None. Memorize these rules!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Expository Essay Outline

It's the Essay Cat
Originally uploaded by Alexander Somma.
  1. Introduction
    1. Attention getter
      • Get the reader's attention. Examples:
        • Quotation
        • Anecdote
        • Stunning fact
      • Explain how it relates to your thesis sentence
    2. Background
      • Pertinent information on your topic and/or thesis
      • Should be more than one sentence
    3. Thesis sentence
      • The first thing you should write
      • Sentence that describes the main point of your essay
      • List the 3 main arguments used in your 3 body paragraphs

  2. Body paragraph 1
    1. Topic sentence
      • Introduce the main argument of this paragraph while relating it to the thesis
    2. Example 1
      1. Introduce
      2. Give the example
      3. Explanation of how this example relates to the thesis or topic sentence
    3. Example 2
      1. Transition and introduce
      • Same steps as example 1
    4. Example 3
      • Same steps as example 2
    5. Closing sentence
      • Summarize the paragraph and relate it to the thesis

  3. Body paragraph 2
    1. Transition and topic sentence
    • Same as body paragraph 1 for the rest

  4. Body paragraph 3
    1. Transition and topic sentence
    • Same as body paragraph 1 for the rest

  5. Conclusion
    • Summarize your main points while relating them to your thesis
    • Give future work that may need to be done
    • Extend your thesis into other areas

They're vs. Their vs. There

they'reContraction of "they are"They're ready.
theirPossessive pronoun like "his" or "her" but for more than one personCobey is their dog.
thereA place or pointRight there! It is over there. There it is.


  • "There" has the word "here" embedded in it, which should remind you of a location.
  • Mentally replace "they're" with "they are" and see if it makes sense.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Excessive Adverbs

I just read an article on excessive use of adverbs. I can't say I haven't been a victim of adverbs, but I will start using them less now.

Here's the article I read: Those "ly" Ending Adverbs

Summary: You should use a more descriptive verb instead of an adverb/verb combination. Be sure to read some examples in the mentioned article.