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Writing: Organization

Beginning, Middle and End

 

Today's Snack: Microwave a hot dog. Put it in a bun. Add ketchup, mustard, maybe some pickle relish or shredded cheese . . . mmmmmm. Now here's the question: which part of your hot dog did you enjoy eating the most? The beginning? The middle? Or the end? You might enjoy a cup of cold apple cider with your "dog," and you might enjoy drinking it without a pause from start to finish.

 

--------------------

Supplies:

Print out the assignment at the end of this Treat

(Topic #1 and Topic #2) for each student

 

No. 2 pencil

 

Readers get confused and unhappy when a piece of writing doesn't have a good organization. Readers like to be led from the start to the finish. They like to know exactly what's going on so that they feel comfortable and can read and enjoy.

 

Think of your writing as being like an invitation to a party:

 

When you first see it, you get excited to be invited - that's the beginning.

 

The time, date and place of the party, and the theme, and what you're going to do at the party, and maybe what you should wear, are usually listed on the invitation, giving you the facts you need to know about the party - that's the middle.

 

Then, when you actually arrive at the party, and the door opens up and lets you in, and closes behind you, and you feel happy, because after all, it's a PARTY, then that's the end.

 

You can look back to the beginning and see how the middle got you to the end. You feel happy and satisfied!

 

Let's talk a little more about the three key parts of a piece of writing:

 

Beginning: get the reader's attention and introduce the topic.

 

Middle: details that make it interesting and informative.

 

End: summary of the important points that makes the reader think,

teach the reader something, compel the reader to take action, feel emotions, feel satisfied, etc.

Beginning

 

Let's say you have to write a report for school. After you've done your research, you should be able to come up with a thesis statement (pronounced THEE-sis). That's your main point. You could also call it your starter statement.

 

Your thesis, or starter statement, might be the first, second or third sentence in your introductory paragraph. Somehow, you need to relate your ending paragraph back to this thesis statement. That will remind the reader of what your main point is, and show how you proved it.

 

The opening paragraph should give a clear idea what your story or report is going to be about. But it also should say something interesting and "catchy." The idea is to "hook" the reader into reading all the way through your story or report.

 

Imagine that you're trying to catch a fish with just a metal fishhook - no bait, nothing attractive on there for the fish to eat. No wonder you don't get any "bites." To hook 'em in, you need to capture their attention and hold it!

 

Sometimes, writers wait until they've written the body of a report, and the ending, before they go back and write the introduction. That way, they know what would be the best opening sentence that will connect with the reader the best, and connect with the ending of the report.

 

Remember, the main goal of your beginning is to make the reader want to read more!

 

You've heard of the old expression, "save the best for last." Well, when it comes to report-writing, you probably should save the best for FIRST!

 

The introduction should lead smoothly into the body of the report, where you will "prove" your thesis statement.

 

 

Middle

 

One of the most important tasks of writing is to decide what to leave out - not what to put in. That's because most of us collect 'way more information for a report than we really need.

 

But always include lots of detail. You need to include enough facts and details to make your points clear to the reader. With practice, you'll learn how to include enough information to prove your point without drowning your reader in too many words, ideas and facts. It's like putting seasoning in food: too much ruins the taste!

 

It's crucial to your success that you leave out obvious facts and knowledge that people already know, while not making what you include too off-the-wall and unusual. A general rule of thumb is: "If in doubt, leave it out!"

 

Here are some ways that you can organize information for the body, or middle, of your report:

 

Chronological order - historical; the order in which things happened

 

Order of importance - from most important to least important, or vice versa

 

Order of location - where the things happened or are found

 

Cause and effect - answering "why" things happened

 

 

End

 

Now you sum up what you have taught the reader with your writing. But you don't just repeat the introductory sentence. It's no good to just restate something you said in the beginning. That's dull!

 

You want your ending to be lively - to end with a "bang"! Give your reader something to think about . . . and a strong, clear message to remember.

 

You don't want your story to end too quickly or abruptly. Have you ever been riding in a car when the driver had to suddenly slam on the brakes? The car stops, and you lurch forward. It doesn't feel good, does it? It's the same way with a good piece of writing. It should come to a satisfactory ending - not too sudden, but not too long and drawn out, either. It should feel "finished."

 

Here's the main thing about endings: it's the place where you should get to the point. Now that you've told your reader these facts and information, why should the reader care? What action might the reader take? What difference should this report make in the reader's mind? What do you want the reader to think, and remember?

 

Maybe you want to sum up what you've learned and tell how it guides you to take a stand - express an opinion - predict what might happen in the future - evaluate the value of what you've reported. Go ahead and show those strong feelings you have! That's what makes writing a good conclusion so much fun!

 

It's a great idea to relate the ending somehow back to the introduction. You might want to repeat one key word or phrase from the introduction, and use it again in the ending.

 

Now, here are three sentences that might form the framework for a Beginning, Middle, and End of a report on which is scarier, an eagle or a cobra:

 

Beginning: Eagles and cobras are both impressive, powerful creatures.

 

Middle: The eagle's sharp talons, crushing beak and fast flight speed make it a bird of prey to be feared. The cobra's gruesome fangs, poisonous venom and slithering movements are very intimidating.

 

End: Both eat mice, and if I were a mouse, I'd be more afraid of an eagle because it can swoop down from the sky and snatch you away, and I hate surprises more than I hate snakes!

 

 

Now it's your turn!

 

First, think of 2 topics. Write a beginning, middle and end for each one.

 

Maybe you would like to tell why your sport is better than another sport, or tell what you did during the best recess of your life.

 

The more you practice thinking about beginnings, middles and ends, the better-organized your writing will be, and the faster you can get your assignments done!

 

 

TOPIC #1

 

Beginning:

 

 

 

 

Middle:

 

 

 

 

End:

 

 

 

 

TOPIC #2

 

Beginning:

 

 

 

 

Middle:

 

 

 

 

End:

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Writing 2010

 

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