How to write a stronger essay Directions: Use this graphic organizer in order to see the break-down of thinking in order to write a more SPECIFIC essay. This organization of thought will lend to a more specific thesis statement, more specific topic sentences for body paragraphs and more specific and relevant evidence to support your claim(s).
Prompt: What are people willing to do in order to survive?
Part I: Creating a focus and a thesis
Your thesis should NOT have been: People are willing to do a lot in order to survive. (or any variation thereof)
Why? Because it doesn’t have a specific focus. It’s too broad. What do you mean by a lot?????
So, let us start off by looking at the sources and making a list of exactly what are people willing to do to survive!
Focus Your Thoughts
List (using bullets) what people are willing to do to survive. Indicate which source each idea comes from. See example provided.
Improvise (Source 1, 6, 8, 10)
Create a Thesis Statement
Look at your choices above. You’ve brainstormed MORE ideas than you should use. Pick one or some that seem most relevant to answering the prompt!
You can pick one that is more general, such as the provided example.
Example thesis: People are willing to improvise in order to survive.
You can pick some that relate to each other and create a thesis to incorporate those.
Example thesis (we will come up with this as a class after discussion):
NOW, create your thesis based on what your claim is. EXACTLY what are people willing to do to survive?
and turtles” when they were stranded in the Amazon Jungle (Govan).
Evidence: A woman “survived 11 days lost in the Spanish Pyrenees…by sipping rain water and foraging
for wild herbs” (Govan).
Evidence: Pi catches and eats fish and turtles which are against his practices as a vegetarian (Martel
Evidence: Pi attempts to eat Richard Parker’s feces (Martel 213).
Evidence: Odysseus eats molly given to him by Hermes in order to stave off Circe’s “charms” (Homer. 10.italics).
Point (claim) 2: People are willing to improvise in order to survive by performing acts they wouldn’t
Evidence: “…Mountain climber Aron Ralston amputated his arm with a penknife after being trapped
beneath a boulder in Utah” (Govan).
Evidence: People create new tools and technology which help them to survive (“Survival Adaptation”).
Evidence: Repurposing items (“How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse”)
Evidence: Odysseus and his men crafted a spear from an olive tree in order to blind them Cyclops so
they could escape (Homer.9.224-241).
Evidence: Pi created a raft for himself (Martel 148).
Evidence: Pi attempted to train a tiger (Martel 164-166).
*This paragraph could go two ways: 1) focus on creating/repurposing items or 2) unusual feats. If you choose to do both, your topic sentence would then HAVE to relate to both or you’d need a transition between evidence to illustrate the connection.
Picking Points and Evidence
Based on the thesis you created, what points and evidence are you going to use to prove your thesis?
Point #2 (if you don’t have another strong point, stop here!)
Point #3 (if you have more points, don’t stop here!)
Evidence for Point #1 – brainstorm as many as you can think of/find
Evidence for Point #2 – brainstorm as many as you can think of/find
Evidence for Point #3 – brainstorm as many as you can think of/find
Part III: Organizing ideas
Next, take the ideas from the last chart to start ORGANIZING your thoughts.
Hook: animals adapt – one way thorough improvising; use Darwin quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Thesis: People are willing to improvise in order to survive.
Body Paragraph #1
Topic Sentence: People are willing to improvise in order to survive by eating or drinking items they wouldn’t normally eat or drink.
Commentary(speaker & situation: when caught in the middle of nowhere…)
Evidence #1: The air crash survivors in the Andes ate the deceased passengers to survive (Govan).
Commentary (explanation/analysis/importance/significance of evidence #1: resorting to cannibalism)
Commentary (transition/connection to next piece of evidence: cannibalism isn’t the only extreme option)
Evidence #2: Pi attempts to eat Richard Parker’s feces (Martel 213).
Commentary (explanation/analysis/importance/significance of evidence #2: didn’t want to continue this option)
Conclusion/Transition to next paragraph (conclusion at end of 1st paragraph, transition at beginning of 2nd paragraph)
Turning Part III into the essay. Compare the beginning of the essay to the skeletal ideas in the chart. Notice, sentence variety, transitions, connections, etc.!
The famous biologist Charles Darwin believes, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” In fact, Charles Darwin and many others have verified this statement via research showing that species survive when they are able to make changes through genetics, innovations, or improvisation. Not only do animals do this, but humans do as well. One of the most important factors to human survival would be the ability to improvise; therefore, people must be willing to improvise in order to survive.
Improvising is defined as the ability to create or perform something spontaneously without preparation, sometimes requiring a person to produce or make something from whatever is available. When caught in the middle of nowhere with little or scare resources, one of the first concerns for survival is nourishment. Without the convenience of a grocery store or pre-made garden, how is one to survive? Through improvisation. If stuck in this situation, people are willing to improvise and consume whatever they can for that nourishment. For example, when a plane crashed in the remote Andes, the surviving passengers were willing to eat the deceased passengers in order to survive (Govan). Normally, people are not cannibals – they have plenty of other resources, both wild and domesticated; however, in a remote area in a harsh climate where other options are not available, the people ate what was available to them: other people. Not only are people willing to resort to the extreme option of cannibalism to survive, but they are also willing to eat items that under normal circumstances are disgusting and unhealthy. When Pi Patel was stranded in the middle of the ocean with little to eat, he even resorted to eating the feces of a tiger (Martel 213). Obviously he knew he wouldn’t survive on that, nor did he want to, so he developed other options; but, at the moment of absolute agonizing hunger, he was willing to eat anything, even feces. When sustenance is scarce, people are willing to make drastic choices in order to survive.
Dietary choice isn’t the only decision that needs to be improvised in order to survive. Another improvisation that people are willing to make for survival is to attempt seemingly impossible feats. …
(You get the picture)
Now, your turn!
Body Paragraph #1
Commentary (speaker & situation):
Commentary (explanation/analysis/importance/significance of evidence #1):
Commentary (transition/connection to next piece of evidence):
Commentary (explanation/analysis/importance/significance of evidence #2):