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Three Steps to Quality Writing

            On the list of fun things to do, many students rank writing an essay somewhere between getting a root canal and studying for finals.  But why does writing get such a bum rap?  Perhaps it is because students frequently get back marked up papers with lower-than-expected grades and, therefore, cringe whenever the next essay comes along.  This experience, however, is completely avoidable.  By learning to master essay organization, idea development, and basic formatting guidelines, most students can take the three biggest steps toward more successful writing.  .
             In the typical five-paragraph essay (like this one), the writer organizes his or her work around a thesis statement and three body paragraphs.  Look how this essay starts with a sentence designed to generate some interest and to engage the reader.  By the end of that introduction paragraph, the writer gets to his thesis statement: the best one- or two-sentence summary of the essay as a whole.  Because this thesis statement mentions that there are three main steps to improving writing (organization, development, and formatting), the reader should expect one body paragraph for each of those three main ideas.  Likewise, please note that this paragraph is solely about organization "the first of those three ideas mentioned. .
             While organization is crucial, the element that really separates excellent writing from decent writing is development.  Good writers do not just mention an idea, they try to look closely and think about that idea in order to make observations not everybody would see.  For example, think for a moment about a televised football game.  The play-by-play announcer tells us what's happening: who has the ball and where he or she is going.  The color commentator, however, points things out in the replay, makes connections between plays and games, and uses his expertise to help us notice things we would miss if we just watched the ball.

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