A cause and effect essay is a genre of academic essays in which a writer is required to give a thoughtful analysis of on reasons for and/or the consequences of an action, event, or decision. A cause and effect paragraph or essay can be organized in several ways. For example, causes and/or effects can be arranged in any chronological order or reverse the chronological order. Alternatively, you can present your points of emphasis, from least important to most important, or vice versa.
How to write an exceptional cause and effect essay
The following are some useful tips to craft your cause and effect essay.
Develop a thesis statement.
After you’ve looked over your notes you will want to come up with a thesis statement, or argument, to guide your paper. This is what you will try to prove throughout your essay. Your thesis should be debatable and should be supported by the facts that you uncovered during your research.
A thesis statement can be a single sentence or multiple sentences, depending on what you need to cover. It cannot be a quote, a basic statement of fact, or a question.
As you are trying to craft your thesis statement it is helpful to consider what your evidence indicates about your topic. What causes and/or effects are clearly illustrated by your sources? For example, if a number of your sources discuss stock market issues as a cause of the Great Depression, then you may argue that “Stock market instabilities, in part, led to the Great Depression.”
Create an outline.
Identify at least three broad themes or ideas that can support your main thesis. These themes will become separate body sections of your paper. You will then place smaller or more detailed ideas or concepts under these larger ‘umbrella’ ideas. In the end, every piece of the organization should contribute toward proving your thesis in some way.
While 3 ideas are typical for a 5-paragraph essay, you may find you have more ideas you want to include. Depending upon your topic and the length of your paper, scale up the number of ideas as needed.
Be pretty flexible with your initial outline as you will find areas that you will need to expand or cut when you actually start writing.
It may seem easier at first but you never have to limit yourself to the five-paragraph essay format, unless your teacher expressly requests that you do so. Otherwise, feel free to add additional paragraphs, up until the page limit, to create a stronger argument.
Craft a solid introduction.
Your introduction is the first paragraph of your essay and it has a great deal of work to do. It must grab the reader’s attention. It needs to introduce the reader to the general topic. And, it must present the thesis statement to the reader, usually in the final sentence or two. For a cause and effect essay, you will want to make clear whether or not you plan to cover both of these areas or just one.
You can get a reader interested in your subject by opening with a vivid quote, exciting source, or quick anecdote. Just keep it brief. Your intro should only be a fairly short paragraph in comparison to the body ones.
Write your body paragraphs.
This is where you flesh out your outline. Each paragraph should cover one particular element of your argument. In the cause portions of your essay, you will need to explain the event in question and make initial connections to the effective portion that is coming up. In the effect portion, you will need to explain to the reader how you get from point A (cause) to point B (effect).
Don’t forget to add at least a paragraph explaining to the reader why these connections are important to them on an individual or group level. You could also mention this in the cause-and-effect paragraph. This is an opportunity to make an educated statement about what the long and short-term implications of this cause/effect cycle will be. Basically, why should we care?
Emphasize the cause and effect timeline.
As you move through your body paragraphs, make sure that you emphasize that the cause that you are discussing occurred before the effect. And, as you are writing about an effect, make sure that you can prove it occurred after that particular cause. You want to avoid a situation where your causes and effects are so intertwined that they are without a causal relationship.
For example, if you argue that the Great Depression caused a rise in unemployment you will need to have statistics to support this perspective. After all, unemployment existed before and after the event in question, so the causal relationship is what must be clarified.
Acknowledge or rule out other explanations.
You must convince your readers that you are aware of alternative arguments or approaches. Don’t overreach or over-promise as you describe the cause and effect relationship. Instead, use your evidence to show that, while other causes or effects may exist, the most important relationships are the ones that are found within your paper.
For instance, if you are writing about the causes of the Great Depression you will want to discuss the stock market but also the income gap. Or, if you choose to focus solely on the Great Depression/stock market relationship then somewhere in your paper you’ll want to acknowledge the other possible causes while stating that you’ve chosen this particular focus.
Points you are proving may be major or minor. The goal is simply to explain how they affect the causal relationship.
Craft a solid conclusion.
Use your concluding paragraph, to sum up, your thesis and major supporting points. However, do so very briefly as this paragraph should be roughly the same length as the introduction. You might also give some indication as to how your findings could change in the future if conditions or interpretations alter in some way.
Intermix specific details and bigger-picture statements.
Throughout your body paragraphs, you will want to develop and present natural pairings of detailed evidence and broad summary or interpretive remarks. Without the details, your paper will be too vague. Without the interpretive comments, your reader will just see a list of facts lacking analysis.
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