Ready to tackle your next big writing assignment in school? Learn about some of the different writing types in this guest post by San Diego and online tutor Natalie S. to prep yourself…
Throughout your high school and college experience, you will be asked to write many different types of essays. Take a look at our handy guide below to learn the purpose and function of the most common types of writing and see how to best craft them to support your arguments.
The writing type you’ll be asked to use the most in high school is the argumentative essay. In an argumentative essay, the writer makes an initial claim (aka their thesis), and uses the body of the paper to list evidence that supports that claim. Various tactics that can be used to bolster your arguments include addressing counterpoints and refuting them, or using rhetorical devices. An argumentative essay can also be used to analyze literature in English classes.
Compare and Contrast
In a compare and contrast essay, you essentially pick two (or more) books, events, or objects and compare them by examining their similarities and differences. There are two main ways to structure a paper like this. For example, if you’re comparing William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Light in August, you can structure your body paragraphs by discussing the first book, then the second book, and then make a direct comparison between the two. This structure is called the Block Method. If you’re up for a challenge, a more difficult way to structure your paper (but also a more interesting way) is for each body paragraph or section to represent a point of comparison. So for the above example, your body paragraphs might discuss race relations, time, and Southern culture as used in both books.
Cause and Effect/Change Over Time
This is one of the writing types that you’ll most likely come across in history class. The cause and effect essay is generally used to analyze historical occurrences. Generally, these essays should be written in chronological order. The intro paragraph needs to include a thesis that states both the cause and the effect that you will be discussing. Your body paragraphs should include (in chronological order) the proof and events that support your thesis. For example, if your thesis is that Europeans caused the decimation of the Native American population, your body paragraphs might include information about the initial population of people within the Americas, European diseases, and eventual wars involving the Native Americans and the Europeans.
A process paper is designed to explain how something is done. For example, you might write a process paper for an older relative on how to work the remote control, or how to send an email. This writing type is a bit different, as it’s generally written from the second person point of view (using the “you” tense). However, keep in mind that your writing will be stronger if you avoid using the word “you” and instead write using command phrases. For example, say “First, turn the TV on” instead of “First, you should turn the TV on.”
Narrative essays are most similar to short stories, or something that you might write in a creative writing class. These essays should tell a story, and they are generally written in the first-person point of view. What differentiates a narrative essay from a short story, however, is that a narrative essay needs to have a strong, blatant conclusion as to the point or thesis behind the paper. A short story, on the other hand, can have an ambiguous or oblique thesis driving it.
Now that you have an understanding of the purpose and function of these different writing types, you can better craft and organize your essays and get that A+ grade! For further information, tips, and outlines to help you get started, check out one of my favorite online writing resources. Good luck!
Natalie S. tutors in English, ESL, History, Phonics, Reading, and Test Prep in San Diego, as well as through online lessons. She received her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware, and her MA in English Literature at San Diego State University. Learn more about Natalie here!
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