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Core 110: Effective Writing

Illustration Essay: Collaborative Project

  As you know from your reading, illustration concerns itself with showing rather than just telling.  An illustration paper begins with a thesis (for example, "Wherever you go these days, people seem to be recycling.").  The rest of the essay works to prove that thesis by providing concrete and specific examples.  For the above example, you might begin by describing how all the houses on your street put out their blue recycling bins on garbage day.  You would be providing us with a visual picture and you would also show how it is not just young people who understand the need for recycling.  Your essay might then go on to describe the recycling program in your town because it is extremely extensive (you would only do this if you were able to research the program extensively).  The possibilities are endless for development of this topic.

  The point of an illustration paper is to make abstract ideas concrete.  If we start by saying that almost everyone in our community is getting involved with recycling, we are being vague, abstract.  How are they getting involved?  What are they doing?  What does "almost everyone" mean?  Why should I believe this?  The paper would make these vague ideas specific, clear.  Santi Buscemi writes that the examples used in illustration "act as pictures--concrete representations--of the abstract idea you are trying to explain, and they make your writing easier to understand and more convincing to your readers" (441).

  Your illustration essay can be developed in the following ways:

1.  By using specific facts, instances, or occurrences

2.  With statistics

3.  By using specific people, places, or things

4.  With anecdotes or stories

  Depending on the topic you choose, you might need to do research to back up your thesis.  The above example (recycling) would require research by way of personal interviews and possibly magazine and newspaper articles.  You are expected to follow the guidelines set forth by the Modern Language Association in the preparation and writing of your paper.

  As usual, the paper must be word processed, double spaced, and paginated.  Margins must be set at one inch all around.  The length requirements are three to five pages (a less than three page paper will be returned to you and count as an "F").  Do not forget to title your essay.  Include a works cited sheet if outside sources are used.

  Your essay needs to have a clear and specific thesis.  (Simic's thesis is "Sadness and good food are incompatible."  Abstract, yes, but look at what he does with it!) The body paragraphs must develop that thesis in an organized and logical fashion.  Don't forget to write a clear conclusion that provides an adequate sense of closure. 

  When you hand in your final group project, you must buy a thin paper three ring binder.  Inside this binder, you must have three separate sections.  The first section should be individual group members' journal entries (each member is required to write four).  The second section should be labeled drafts and planning.  This section will include all your individual rough drafts, all your group rough drafts, and any brainstorming or outlining you've completed.  The final section should be labeled final draft and should contain a single clean copy of your illustration essay.

  Journal entries....Write these whenever the need strikes you.  Record your reactions to what happens at your group meetings, your reactions to your own writing, the writing of your group members.  Use your journal entries in any way that makes sense to you; however, these entries should pertain to the illustration essay.  These are your own entries.  You need not show them to your group members.  I urge you to be candid and honest in your responses.

  You will have some class time to work on these projects, but a word of caution: this will not be enough time to complete the entire essay.  Exchange phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and stay in contact with your group members.

  See syllabus for a list of in-class work days.