Writing the Short Essay

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Writing the Short Essay

An essay states facts or describes and explains a topic. It develops a central theme through several connected paragraphs. The essay must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The movement from one paragraph to the next must be logical and smooth.


Topic assigned

Euthanasia (mercy killing):
Right or Wrong?

Narrowed topic

Euthanasia OK under certain conditions.


We should have the freedom to choose death under certain conditions.

Make an informal outline.

This outline should include your main ideas, and it should create questions for the reader. It should also include supporting details that answer these questions.


I had to kill my cat.

Main idea

Supporting ideas that explain why

My sad dilemma was choosing between my cat's right to life and the need to relieve her suffering.

Topic sentence

Look over your outline after a short time (twenty-four hours).

Use the following questions to test your work:

  1. Does each topic sentence relate to your thesis?

  2. Are your topic sentences arranged in a logical order which supports your thesis?

  3. Are your supportive details concrete and specific?

  4. Do you accomplish the purpose established in your thesis?

Write the first draft.

The introduction should attract the reader's attention, state the thesis, and indicate the limits of the paper.


I had Minou killed not long ago. "Put to sleep" is not an honest statement of what I did. My cat was ill. The vet explained that the animal with whom I had shared ten years of my life and love was the victim of incurable cancer. He gently but firmly informed me of two choices. I wanted to avoid making the decision, but the love and companionship I shared with Minou made my choice clear and quick.

Each paragraph in the body of the essay must contain both a topic sentence that states the major point of that paragraph as well as the details that support or prove it.
The conclusion.

This is a logical end of the essay. It is a summary of major points or a statement of the implications of the major points.


I feel all right about Minou's death now. The injection worked quickly, and I held him as he died. There was a kind of dignity in his death, a gentle end to continuous suffering. I loved him in his death as I did in his life. I think we should all be able to choose to die in this way, humanely, with love and with dignity.

Re-read your first draft after twenty-four hours and give your essay a title.

Example: An Act of Human Kindness

Revise where necessary.

Read the essay carefully to see that the organization and development of your essay make sense. Be sure that you have said what you meant directly, simply and clearly, and that the transition from one paragraph to the next is smooth and logical.

Write or type your final copy neatly.

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