For this paper assignment, you must write a process analysis essay. A process analysis essay describes how to do something or tells how something happens. The nice thing about the process essay is that it can be truly helpful. When our readers finish this essay, they will know how to do something that they didn’t know how to do before, or they will understand some process that had mystified them before. There are several cautions to keep in mind in choosing a topic for a process essay.
Don’t write about something that is too complicated. Don’t try to write a brief process paper about something that needs an instruction manual. Also, don’t write about something that needs to be accompanied by visual aids. You could read a good essay about how to wallpaper around a window or a bathroom vanity, but it would be much better to watch a video of the same process. There are some things that are much better seen than read. Try describing the process of tying your shoes, and you’ll see what I mean.
Be especially careful of the connections between your sentences in a process paper. There is a temptation to connect each sentence with “And then,” “then,” “and then.” That’s all right when Aunt Ruth is telling you how to make apple pie, but it’s boring in an essay. Try writing the essay with all the and then’s you want, and then go back and eliminate most of them; you’ll probably find you don’t need most of them. Try for a variety of transitional words and phrases. Don’t number the steps of your essay, and avoid using words like “secondly,” “thirdly,” etc. You might want to say “first” and “second,” but then let the numbering go. Also, although it would be tempting to use graphical embellishments — even something as simple as bulleted paragraphs or sentences — avoid doing this for the purpose of this paper. The trick here is to let the language do all the work for you. Oh, and speaking of recipes, avoid using abbreviations — tsp., oz. — in formal academic writing. Write everything out and save the abbreviations for Aunt Ruth’s recipe card.
At first glance, it seems that beginning a process essay would be easy: just start with the first step, right? Well, perhaps so, but if your readers aren’t interested in your process, they might just put your essay aside and go watch television, and you don’t want that. Your beginning must involve readers in the human dimension that makes knowing your process important to them. If you’re going to write about how to jump-start a dead car battery, don’t start with hooking up the cables. Start with the dark snowy morning in the parking lot. There’s no garage around, sleet is dripping down your neck, and you wonder how to hook up these colorful cables you find in the trunk. If you’re going to write about how to bake a cake, don’t start with the ingredients. Start with how you will feel when your daughter’s face lights up when she sees her beautiful birthday cake at her party. Your readers might not be interested in car batteries or birthday cakes, but they will be interested in the human condition of being stuck and miserable or proud and confident, and they will read on. Remember to include a human-interest element in your introduction and to revisit it throughout your paper or at least in the conclusion.
Requirements:* Take this assignment seriously. Your process must be both helpful and based in reality. You may not write about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or anything equal to that process). Flippant topics will result in lower grades.* This paper must be at least two full pages and not more than four pages. This paper must be at least five paragraphs long, but you are not limited to five paragraphs.* You may write this paper in first, second, or third person, but you may not alternate among first, second, or third person points of view. You must choose the point of view that best suits your topic and human interest element and be consistent.* Your paper must follow the requirements for proper manuscript format as detailed in the Course Assignment Sheet (Syllabus) and be uploaded to Moodle.* This paper must be typed or word-processed on plain paper.* There should be margins of no more than one inch on each side.* Font size should be no larger than 12 point.* This paper must be double-spaced.* If you refer to any outside sources, you must reference the source in proper MLA format.
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