Basic Composition Of An Essay

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Poe writes: "So I opened it [the lantern opening]--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye." By using the metaphor of the thread of the spider (which we all know is a creepy creature) and the word "shot," Poe almost makes the reader gasp, as surely did the old man whose one blind eye the young man describes as "the vulture eye." The first sentence of the third paragraph (second paragraph of the body) uses the words "sense of sight" and "sense of feeling" to hook back into the previous paragraph.

Note that in the second paragraph "feeling" came first, and in this paragraph "sight" comes first.

The following are some terms for the elements of this process that you may use; or you may choose your own synonyms for them.

A classic format for compositions is the five-paragraph essay.

The third paragraph of the body should contain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body.

The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph.

It is not the only format for writing an essay, of course, but it is a useful model for you to keep in mind, especially as you begin to develop your composition skills.

The following material is adapted from a handout prepared by Harry Livermore for his high school English classes at Cook High School in Adel, Georgia. See, first, Writing Introductory Paragraphs for different ways of getting your reader involved in your essay.

Then a quotation from "The Tell-Tale Heart" is presented and briefly discussed.

The last sentence of this paragraph uses the expressions "sense of feeling" and "sense of sight" as hooks for leading into the third paragraph.

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