(Draft Due September 27th) Description of purpose and information to include: Your next essay should use comparison/contrast, with the purpose of showing how one thing was better for you than something else. The emphasis here is for you, not necessarily for anyone or everyone else. So you are not writing about two objects that other people might want to buy, like a comparison of coffee makers in Consumer Reports, but instead objects, places, experiences that you found better.
Obviously, you will need to explain in detail why one place or thing was better and what you mean by ‘better.’ Better for you how? In what specific ways? Why did you like it more or learn more or find it more gratifying? Why do you remember one more fondly than the other?
Possible topics: Two places you have lived (narrow this down to houses or neighborhoods; don’t try to do entire states or countries)
Two jobs you have worked
Two colleges or schools you have attended (N.B. NOT comparing high school and college)
Two cars (this may be too simple unless you can describe your attachment to them)
Two times in your life, a “before and after” story around an important event or turning point (more complicated than writing about things, but worth thinking about)
Please do not choose experiences which occurred too long ago for you to remember them clearly or too far apart in time for you to make a good comparison. For example, if you lived some place when you were two or three, you cannot really compare it very effectively to where you live now that you are an adult.
Also, please do not state these as “versus”; this is not a legal case or a debate.
Links to Websites which will offer you suggestions for organizing your essay are listed below:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/owlprint/685/ Steps in writing the draft: 1. Choose a topic and start jotting down ideas, details, and examples. You can make a chart of similarities and differences or use a Venn diagram to help you compare things or events (see the PowerPoint presentation on Comparison/Contrast on the class Website).
2. Try to develop a good, detailed statement that captures the basic idea of what was better (and how and why) for you. That will be your starting thesis, though of course you may change that as you write the paper.
3. Write out several paragraphs of the body (the main part) of the essay using one of the structures you are given on the UNC and Purdue Websites. You will notice that one of the readings on the class Websites uses a point-by-point comparison method (the Churchill and Roosevelt essay by Jon Meacham) which is more complex and sophisticated than using large chunks. But it is also harder to do, especially in a first draft.
4. You do not have to structure your entire essay as a comparison/contrast, but you should certainly use that strategy in your essay. And you should try to use parallel structures in sentences and paragraphs. Notice how Meacham uses parallel structures, the same structures but with different information in the same category. This is what teachers mean by “parallel structure”:
Bread made with refined white flour is preferred by some people because it has a light texture. But bread made with whole grains is actually better for us because it has more nutrients and aids digestion. It is, however, heavier and less delicate.
The subject-verb, clause construction, and word choice are similar in both sentences. However, the information is different and “but” and “however” signal contrast between the two types of bread.
5. After you have written several paragraphs, you can go back and decide how to write the introduction and polish up your thesis statement to make it more exact (for example, answering the question of why you liked one place or thing more than the other).
6. Proofread your draft and print two copies to bring to class with you for peer review next week. Your essay is due at the start of class on September 27th. Please let me know if you have questions. You should have two email addresses for me, so if you do not get a response from one within twenty-four hours, please write to the other account. Or if it is very important, call.