Essay Writing Tips: Pyramid Power
Seeing structure graphically helps to visualize and plan an essay before writing begins. The two diagrams below represent writing strategies. By definition, all writing is the process of conveying ideas (concepts). Organizing the ideas into ordered form enhances a reader’s ability to understand what you are trying to communicate. More importantly, the organization provides a solid foundation for what you are presenting.
One the left, the Five-point Essay is the simplest writing format. It consists of an introduction, 3 supporting points, and a conclusion. This structure was discussed in the I.D.E.A model article (here). Like in the model, the 5-point diagram shows the sections broken into four components. The picture names them differently but they are functionally identical to the I.D.E.A. model’s components: introduction, description, elaboration, and assertion.
On the right, the Inverted Pyramid is the journalistic technique which is like the Five-point Essay only it applies the idea of focused writing. Instead of points, journalists have the six cardinal points of information (who, what, where, when, why, and how). The Inverted Pyramid is useful for visualizing more focused writing. A writer organizes points in order according to their importance and/or support of the conclusion/thesis. NOTE: These structures are GUIDELINES, more complex or simplistic ideas may require more or less points to develop.
If you look at the inverted pyramid, you will see a number of options for different essay types research, argument, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, and process. The diagram offers that your points can be grouped different ways. The most effective order will vary depending on topic and the kind of points you are presenting. The main thing is that you are thinking about the organization and consciously deciding how each section is placed in the finished work.
In summary, good essays and articles have structure. They introduce ideas, discuss them, and provide a concluding summary. The task of writing an essay really comes down to your assertion and points. If you have those, the rest is filling in the spaces between. It’s up to you to not make it harder than it needs to be.