Organizing Your Writing

She hits me with her paw.  When we leave the house, we leave Gracie inside.  My black Labrador, Gracie, is getting old now, but she’s still a troublemaker.  She refuses to go out and just wags her tail at him.  Gracie is a lot of company, but she’s basically an imp.  She noses the door as it closes and pretends to bite my hand.  Gracie barks at 9:00 a.m. on weekends to wake up my son.  I never let her have people food, but she still begs for it.

That’s quite a mess, isn’t it?  You can probably tell it’s a paragraph about my dog, but it is not very well ORGANIZED.  Sometimes when students write essays, their work suffers from the same malady of unorganizedness.  It doesn’t matter if you are writing for a teacher’s grade, or for a district or state test, the paper must be organized.  Usually, an organized essay will pass even if everyone disagrees about how good it is.  If it is not organized, it won’t pass.  So let’s redo Gracie’s paragraph.  Here it is, more organized.

My black Labrador, Gracie, is getting old now, but she’s still a troublemaker. Gracie barks at 9:00 a.m. on weekends to wake up my son. She refuses to go out and just wags her tail at him. When we leave the house, we leave Gracie inside. She noses the door as it closes and pretends to bite my hand. I never let her have people food, but she still begs for it. She hits me with her paw. Gracie is a lot of company, but she’s basically an imp.

Now that’s better!  The TOPIC SENTENCE starts it off and tells you what the paragraph will be about–Gracie being a troublemaker.  Everything that follows explains how Gracie causes trouble.  There is nothing in this paragraph about what she eats, or going for walks, or where she sleeps.  None of that fits in a paragraph about Gracie causing trouble.  After the topic sentence, there are three MAIN IDEAS: She barks to wake up my son, she doesn’t let us close her in when we are leaving, and she begs for scraps.  For each main idea, there is a DETAIL that explains the idea.  She barks, but she doesn’t have to go outside.  She doesn’t let us close the door, and she nips at our hand.  She begs for scraps by hitting us with her paw.  Tie the paragraph up by writing a CONCLUDING SENTENCE that restates your topic sentence.  Restating is an important skill here.  If you use the same words, the reader will be bored (and a bored teacher may give you an F).  If you don’t wrap up the paragraph nicely, the reader might forget what you are trying to say.  So write the topic again, in different words.  Gracie’s an imp.

The more time you invest in planning an essay, the easier it will be to actually write it.  If you don’t plan it, it won’t be organized and it won’t be your best work.  So get used to the idea–plan everything you write.  One easy way to write up an essay plan is to outline it.  Don’t put too many words into your outline.  Use phrases that will remind you what you want to put into sentences.  Here is my outline for Gracie’s paragraph:

Topic:  Gracie is a troublemaker

1.  barks, wakes up son

2.  wags tail, doesn’t go out

1.  leave her in house

2.  noses door, play bites

1.  begs for food

2.  hits leg with paw

Conclusion: Gracie is an imp.

Compare that outline to the final paragraph.  Each line of the outline becomes a sentence.  Some detail is added to make the sentences fuller, but all the basic information is in the outline.

YOU TRY IT Here’s an outline for a paragraph about school.  You should have enough information to write an awesome paragraph.  Try to put your own opinion (your VOICE) into it when you are composing your sentences.  Remember to make one sentence for each line of the outline.

TOPIC:  school is challenging

1.  Math is logical

2.  geometry and algebra

1.  Social Studies is hard

2.  lots of dates and place names

1.  Writing is fun

2.  create with words

CONCLUSION: classes are hard, but I learn a lot

NOTE:  Whatever you do, DON’T PUT ‘WRITING IS FUN’ AS A SENTENCE IN YOUR ESSAY!!!!  It should be a sentence that shows writing is fun but uses more words.  🙂

On my Kindle:  Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

60 responses to “Organizing Your Writing”

  1. Many times it is hard to keep yourself from being repetitive when writing an expository essay. If you organize your paragraphs, you won’t make this mistake as much.

    1. Very true, Stephen! I see a lot of repeated ideas and repeated sentence structure. That’s how I tell an outline wasn’t used (shhhh that’s a teacher secret)

  2. organizing maybe tiring but it helps a lot when you write so you can keep track of things. i hated organizing but it helps me very much.

  3. Many subjects in many schools are very challenging, but some are very fun and are used in your everyday life. Math, is very logical and is easy if you can remember every concept. Different kinds of math such as geometry and algebra is taught in higher grades. Social studies is very hard because there are many dates , names, and places to remember. Writing is very fun. You can use your creativity to write many great stories. Writing is also used in almost everything you say. Class can be very fun and hard, but most importantly, I learn a lot.

    1. umm i learn a lot? you kind of copied it from what mrs. ulleseit wrote on the outline.

    2. nicely done, Dylan! Only one problem… get geometry and algebra in fifth grade, too. 🙂

  4. School is one of the most challenging things in my life. Math is enjoyable because of how logical it is. Algebra and Geometry really challenge and push me to work harder because of how complex they are. Social Studies, however, is much more difficult than math. It is hard to remember dates of a battle in a war, or a place where a government signed a document. Writing is the most fun out of the three. With writing, ideas can be shown with words and read by many people. Classes in school are difficult, but I become smarter every day when I go there.

    1. very strong, confident voice, Stephen. Good job!

  5. zoha cochinwala Avatar
    zoha cochinwala

    I like challenges, this is why math is one of my favorite subject. Some of the hardest parts in math are geometry and algebra. Social studies is also very hard, because there is a lot of history to remember. Like places and important dates. Writing is a great subject, it is the one that most kids and teachers love. The best part about writing is that you can be creative, and with narratives you can make them whatever topic you want.

    1. Zoha, I think you did this in a hurry. You have no topic sentence or concluding sentence. You have a run-on (Writing is a great subject…) and a fragment (Like places…) I know it’s harder to write from someone else’s outline, but you can do better than this. 🙁

      1. zoha cochinwala Avatar
        zoha cochinwala

        School can be very challenging. Math is a great subject because it is very logical. The most challenging parts in math are geometry and algebra. Social studies is one of the hardest subjects because there is a lot of names, places, and dates to remember. Out of all three, writing is the best. With writing you show creativity with words. Even though school is hard, I learn a lot.

  6. Even though some subjects in school are easy, some are hard. First, my favorite subject is math because it is very logical. In math, there is geometry, which is shapes, and algebra, which is like, x + 2 = 10. Second, social studies is a challenge. You have to memorize the times and dates of the important events so you can get a good grade on the test. Last, my most favorite subject is writing because it is fun and challenging. You can make up stories and words too! All in all, class is hard, but you can learn a lot from all the subjects.

    1. very nice, Justin. If you were to do another draft of this, though, I would like to see you move away from stiff transitions like first, second, last, and not use ‘all in all’ for the concluding sentence. Stretch yourself to move away from the crutches you used when you were learning. You can do it!

  7. School is a very challenging place, where students come to learn. I think school is the most challenging place i have ever been to. Math is logical because it is used everyday and learned everywhere. Algebra and geometry are two things you must learn and are some of the things you have to learn in math. Social studies is a hard subject that lots of children learn. It is difficult because there are lots of dates and places people are in. Writing however is a very fun process of words in which we write all the time. You can be creative with writing because you can write whatever you want to writ. School is a fun yet challenging place where kids learn everyday.

    1. Two topic sentences, Kate? You have some repetitious phrases and awkward sentences. Read your paragraph over before you submit it so that you can feel the flow of the words.

  8. Some subjects maybe easy for some and for others they are difficult. Math is based on numbers and shapes. Next is writing. Writing is all about creativity and planning. Its like being sucked in another world. Last my least favorite subject social studies. It is hard for me because there are to many things to remember.

    1. Jesse? You have no topic sentence and no concluding sentence. You left out some of the details. Were you in a hurry?

  9. Organizing your writing is very challenging if you do not have an outline. If you want an organized piece, take your time to outline your paragraphs.

  10. School is very easy to some people, but to others it’s very hard. Math is one of the hardest subjects and involves geometry and algebra which are very hard. Another hard subject is social studies. In this subject there are lots of dates to know and places to remember. Writing is fun but to other people, they hate it. Writing is creative and you use your own words and imagination. In school there are a lot of hard and easy subjects to do and things to learn.

    1. Good job, Yousef! My only suggestion would be to use different words that mean ‘hard.’ You use hard a lot. Maybe try: challenging, difficult, not easy, puzzling…

  11. School, sometimes, could be somewhat of a challenge for all students. Math is very logical and confuses some students. Geometry and algebra are two kinds of math that are very challenging to my brain. Social studies is a very hard subject and requires some memory. There are so many dates and places that you must remember for those mind exhausting tests. Writing is a delightful subject. You get to mess around with words, create your own stories, and you can let out creativity and show voice. Classes may be a little difficult but when you get to it you learn an awful lot that you will need later in life.

    1. Nice job, Lily! You have good voice in this one. I like it! 🙂

  12. School might be very complicated, but some subjects are subjects that I enjoy. To me, math is logical, social studies is hard, and writing is really fun. Math because it is very important and you are going to use it in your every day lives. You’ll need to use it in high school, middle school, and maybe college too. Also, social studies is really hard. I don’t get why you even need to remember names, and states, and blah blah blah blah. To me, they’re all rubbish. Last, writing is so fun and awsome. For novels and writing, you could play with words and mix them together to make another word. All in all, many subjects are hard, but they help me with school and reality a lot.

    1. Dai-an, not bad, not bad. I like your attempt at a hook, and your list statement for a topic sentence. I prefer you get away from starting the concluding sentence with ‘all in all’ but overall it’s a nice paragraph. 🙂

  13. School may be hard, but it has many things that you may need in the future. I don’t like math that much, however, you never know when or where you’ll need it. Geometry and algebra involve lots of complex equations, numbers, and variables which is hard even for my brother. Social Studies, is another hard thing which is BORING. It requires you to remember events like the Boston Tea Party, historic documents, and the many laws and protests that happened. The other part of social studies is remembering important dates and times like July 4, 1776. Writing is fun in a way and it allows me to learn how to outline and write response to literature. First you have words, then you make those into sentences, and then you make those sentences into paragraphs, and so forth and so forth. This adds a little fun into writing. Like you could make you character say, “Green boogers explode!” which is pretty funny. School is a pain but you have to enjoy the skills you learn.

    1. Nicely developed paragraph, Mark!

    2. Green boogers explode? (in my seat laughing)

  14. In many schools they teach lots of subjects. math is logical because you have to remember the concepts that shows in the text book. For instance algebra and geometry are always taught in the high schools or the middle schools. Then social studies is the hardest because you have to remember all the names ,places, and all the dates. then writing is fun because you could write lots of imaginations into your own sentences. In conclusion school is hard because there’s lots of things that you have to do like the homework , the classwork and projects , the thing thats the most important is that I learned a lot of things.

    1. Joseph, some of your sentences are very awkward. ‘In many schools they teach lots of subjects’ ? Really? What do they teach in other schools? Algebra and geometry are taught at every grade level. Not a bad effort. If you read it out loud to yourself, I think you can improve the flow.

  15. Math is logical because all you do is to find a way to do the problems. algebra and geometry are easy because you just have to find something that fits in. Social Studies is hard because there is so much dates and the places names you just can’t fit everything inside your brain. writing is the best subjects you can ever have because you get to make weird names like flare or something

    1. Mark, you have no topic sentence or concluding sentence. All your main idea sentences start the same way (Math is…Social Studies is…Writing is….) 🙁

  16. School has five important subjects. Writing, (my favorite subject) teaches students to be passionate, creative, and to let their imagination run wild. Math, on the other hand, is totally different. In Math there is a right or wrong answer, but in writing nothing is wrong. During math, students dread the logic it requires. Social Studies is highly dull. Why do we have to learn about people that are long dead? Even though I hate math and social studies, I can’t ignore that they are important subjects.

    1. I also think as well writing could be broad and open where as math you get stuff wrong or right. Social Studies is BORING because you learn about people who this and that and can get you really sleepy and tired.

      1. Thanks for seeing my point, I might turn it into a persuasive on taking Social studies out of education.

      2. will clyden you know i kinda like social studies. And will math is ok and it is for any job that will most of them do.

    2. very nice, Clyden! I love your passion (positive and negative)

  17. School may be difficult, but you can learn many things from it. Math is a subject many students find hard, but if you really put your mind to it, it’s not that hard. It’s just one of those things that involves a lot of logical and critical thinking. Some people may find geometry really hard, and others may think algebra is really challenging. To me, they are both not so difficult. Social studies is something that I don’t very much enjoy, but I’m sure many others do. One of the reasons why I don’t enjoy this subject is because it’s sometimes too confusing. There are a ton of dates to read and understand and too many names of places. Writing, though, is one of my most favorite subjects because I feel it is something I could never get bored or tired of. Many others may not agree with me though. Part of the reason why writing is so awesome is because creating the words is almost like creating a movie. Even though you can learn a lot from school, it can be very hard and challenging.

    1. Hear, hear! Very well said, Shreya. 🙂

  18. For some people, school is challenging. A lot of people hate math because it is a brain-twister. A part of math is boring geometry and algebra. Social studies is complicating ad plain. The teacher gives you a book and tells you to memorize a handful of boring names of dates and places. Writing is exciting, amazing, and fun. You create your own parallel universe in words.

  19. Nikita, nice voice in this one! If you make the topic sentence say ‘school subjects are challenging’ then it makes sense to go from math to social studies without a smoother transition.

  20. Justin Baraona Avatar
    Justin Baraona

    Although school may be very challenging or very easy, you still have to attend it. Math is my least favorite subject. In math, there are many steps you have to work out mostly on a piece of paper to get an answer and take more steps to see if the answer is right. Doing social studies is okay. You need a really good or okay memory to memorize things such as ‘when did this war take place?’ or ‘Who fought against who when?” and lots of other things closely related. Writing is my favorite subject. It’s because in writing you could create worlds of aliens, or dragons with witches, or parallel Earths. School may seem hard or boring, but you learn a lot and that’s what really matters.

    1. Justin, I like the way you took the items in the outline and phrased them in your own words. Nice paragraph!

  21. School is like an adventure. Math lets you explore algebra and volume, which is mind bending and fun. Writing is like making your own body and controlling it. Narrative writing lets you explore and use creativity. Social studies is a bunch of books in one, with exciting tales that are actually real life! This is cool because you learn and have fun reading the stories at the same time. Even though school hurts your brain, it gives you an opportunity to open up the mysteries of the world.

    1. Wow, very good, Andrea!

  22. Sometimes, school can be challenging, but you can learn so much. Math is a subject many people think is hard, but if you work hard, you’ll get the hang of it! Math is just a subject that needs critical thinking and logical stuff. All you need is concentration. Some students may also find geometry and algebra challenging, but the way i see it, it’s kind of fun! Social Studies is one of the subjects I would rather run 5 miles instead. It has to many important things to remember. Writing is a subject I like, but, i don’t love. School may be challenging, but you can learn so much!

  23. Three details for Math but only one for social studies and writing? That makes the paragraph a bit lopsided. Don’t use the same phrase in your topic sentence and concluding sentence (you can learn so much). I like how you’d rather run than do social studies!

  24. Although school helps prepare you for an adult life, school can be challenging. One of the subjects is math. Math is logical and hard to some people. It includes algebra and geometry. Another subject is social studies. Most kids think that social studies is very challenging. You have to remember a lot of famous people and places. Writing is also a subject in school. Some kids might think that writing is fun. You get to be creative and create new words. School might be challenging but what you learn might help you with your future life.

  25. Good paragraph, Kathryn. I would like to see you work on transitions that are less obvious (One of the….Another…)

  26. Although schools hard, you still need to go to school. The first subject is reading. Reading is something, that people like and some people do not like it. But social studies is the boring one because all you have to do is just learn about the USA and the goverment. Math is something to do with algebra. Math has something right and something wrong. The part why I do not like math is because you have to work things out. Writing is something fun there is nothing right and nothing wrong. The subject is creative. School is sometimes fun,but it can be hard to.

    1. Jelena, you were supposed to use my outline. There’s nothing in there about reading. You used the word ‘something’ five times and ‘sometimes’ once. That is too many ‘some’ words in one paragraph.

  27. School has five important subjects. One of them is math. Math can be logical and hard. Math includes algebra and geometery. Another one is writing. It can be creative and fun. Also there is social studies. Most kids think social studies is hard. Some subjects can be difficult, but they help you have a good future

    1. Very bare bones paragraph, Natalie. It is technically correct, but has no voice, no passion. 🙁

  28. Many students around the world think that school is challenging. Math and Social Studies are the hardest. Math incuudes algebra and geometry which seem to be the hardest part in math. Social studies is difficult because of all the names, dates, events, and places you have to remember. One easy subject is writing. It is the only subject that you can use your imagination in and create with words. Even though classes are hard, each and every day I learn a lot more.

    1. Good job, Tiffany! I like how you say it’s hard but make it clear that you are learning.

  29. The five main subjects we learn in school are challenging, but help our future. Math needs logical thinking which helps us understand some things like geometry and algebra. Although Scocial Studies is hard, it’s still my favorite subject. Scocial Studies has many things to remember like dates and place names. Writing can be fun, but I don’t really love it. Sure, writing can help us become creative, but how else can it help us? Math, Social Studies, and Writing can be hard, but I learn a lot.

    1. nice job, Michelle!

  30. School may be very challenging. At first some kids may have trouble in subjects. Math is sometimes logical, and challenging.Social Studies can sometimes be vary hard. In social studies there are many dates, places, and names, so it is very easy to get confused. Writing can be very fun. It can help you create with words.

  31. Your topic sentence should say something about the subjects, Cassie. That would make the transition between subjects less awkward. No concluding sentence?

  32. Although school is challenging, you can learn a lot from it. Math is logical, it makes you think. Geometry and algebra are one of the things you have to think about. You have to concentrate on the problem your given. Social Studies is hard but teaches you the history of the U.S.A. You have to remember the dates, names, and places so it could be confusing. Writing is a fun subject but is tricky. Words can be used to show your creativity. School may be challenging, but it may help you in the future.

  33. school can be challenging but everyone still needs to do it. some subjects can be difficult or puzzeling. some are easy some are confusing. math can be easy. but it also can be hard because you got to do a lot of steps to find the answer (not that much…). social studies are ok but you got to remember some important events that happened in the past. such as the year, the month, and the date. writing is awesome because when your mad, it clears your mind like about an hour. many people al over the world loves writing. they love making the readers be interested in their books they made. and it makes the aughtors really happy!

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