This chapter provides links to example essays from both professional and student writers.
Reading excellent writers is not just entertaining or informative. It also introduces you to new styles, vocabulary, and structures. Analyzing what you read expands your own writing skills. Reading is the easiest way to become a better writer.
Professional Essay Examples
These essays by published writers demonstrate the skills necessary to write well. I will refer to them when I talk about writing and reading, and we will use them in several assignments. Feel free to read ahead or wait until the essay is assigned.
“How to Mark a Book” by Mortimer Adler is a great little essay with simple instructions for how to learn the most from what you read. It is available at https://www.unz.com/print/SaturdayRev-1940jul06-00011/
“The Maker’s Eye” by Donald M. Murray is about the revision process. It might be comforting to know that professional writers spend a lot of time revising. The essay is available through the MHCC library database in Academic Search Complete at https://login.ezp.mhcc.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,cpid,url,uid&custid=s3707448&db=a9h&AN=1075085&site=ehost-live
“How to Write a Letter” by Garrison Keillor was a section in his book We Are Still Married and is available at https://login.ezp.mhcc.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,cpid,url,uid&custid=s3707448&db=a9h&AN=48810970&site=ehost-live
“Athletes Speaking Out” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was published in The Los Angeles Times, and is available at https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-09-24/kareem-abdul-jabbar-some-athletes-spouting-nonsense
“Breaking My Own Silence” by Min Jin Lee was published in The New York Times, and is available at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/opinion/confidence-public-speaking.html?searchResultPosition=33
Student Example Essays
These essays were all written by students at Mt. Hood Community College–students just like you.
This first essay was written in WR115 by Pablo Medina. The assigned subject was “Mt. Hood Community College.” He narrowed the subject to an appropriate size and stayed focused throughout the essay. He provides three examples of why his thesis is true, with each example more important than the previous one (emphatic order). His thesis is clearly stated in the introduction, his body paragraphs each have a topic sentence and specific details, and the conclusion is relevant without being repetitive. https://saintsmhcc-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/monteveg_mhcc_edu/EWnShSZ6lolHn_QRNYUbgcwBF7gEIBxmlN40ryx_pTIbJQ?e=kojj1U
This essay by Jennifer Steimer was written in WR121. She deals with the same topic as Pablo, but in a more complex way. She used a chronological structure to organize the essay, then revised and edited to correct mechanical errors. One thing that makes the essay excellent is the quality of her details. https://saintsmhcc-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/monteveg_mhcc_edu/EfOf3UyoKv9KvX_v0BNVIgIBLnCt2KzsnCLSyIMVGKhZxA?e=NVVIr1
This essay by Brittany McLoughlin is another example of how specific detail makes an essay come alive. Her thesis is the last sentence in the introduction. Her body paragraphs all begin with topic sentences. Notice how she comes back to her original image of the butterflies in the conclusion, but she isn’t just repeating what she already said: she is expanding upon it. https://saintsmhcc-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/monteveg_mhcc_edu/EcpacGGkDj1ArJZXo7-ltZ0BCxu3WMIsJqnEoyKLxJiY2A?e=OoGOW7
This last essay by Angela Godfrey is another great example of organization and detail. Her concluding paragraph is especially good. Like all the other writers, Angela went over and over her essay–first on her own, then in a peer editing group, then again on her own–until she was confident it had no grammar or usage errors. https://saintsmhcc-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/monteveg_mhcc_edu/Ec05SQKpiRJIjmHM-L6NMCABvZx9gpTRpBLIQYGDa7ZE0w?e=oDKP07
When you log in to an essay, consider printing it out. Why?
- Some sites limit the number of times you can access materials on their site before they require you to subscribe. Often a subscription is free, but sometimes it is not. If you log in to check out an essay, then log in again later to read it, then log in again to check something, you may find the site won’t let you back in.
- Also, it’s always better to read print copies and take notes on the document as you read rather than to try to remember what you thought about the reading.