The Iron Rod Illustration

I’ve decided to take a brief break from the Friendship series in order to describe to you something that I have been developing for quite some time.  It is my theory on how to write an outstanding essay.

Imagine that it is the first day of school and I walk into class holding a four-foot long iron rod…

This iron rod illustrates your essay.  But what is it, really?  It is your thesis!  The entire substance of your essay is found in this structure.  You have no essay apart from it.  From one end to the other, everything is your thesis.  Consider the qualities of this iron rod.  Does it break off in the middle?  Is there an empty space between the top and the bottom?  Absolutely not.  It is solid throughout.  This is the chief quality of an outstanding essay.  It has a clear, solid thesis through and through.  The thesis is your purpose for writing the essay.  It is the subject and the substance.  An essay without a purpose from introduction to conclusion is not worth writing, and it is certainly not worth reading.

I also want you to consider the space around this iron rod.  What holds it up?  The ground!  It is grounded.  Your essays must be grounded in truth, evidence, and logic.  This iron rod can’t be held up by opinions.  Opinions are bright-colored insects.  All they can do is distract.  All they can do is cover up the iron rod.  What do we say about evidence?  What does it do?  It supports!  Supports what?  The thesis!  Your thesis must be supported.

The iron rod is resting on the ground, but it is also pointing up to the sky.  Only a strong and grounded thesis can point up like this.  So what does this mean?   An outstanding essay enables us to consider loftier things.  It allows us to contemplate the larger implications of your thesis.  It points to infinity.  This means that an essay is not limited to what you have written.  If it is outstanding, it will extend far beyond anything you could imagine.

At this point I would take out a roll of brightly colored string.  This string represents the elements of style.  It is proper grammar.  It is metaphor.  It is your own unique voice.  Everything that makes the essay more pleasurable to read.  Then I would wrap the string around the iron rod.  Notice that this string clings tightly to the iron rod.  Anything you do to enrich your writing will mean nothing if it is not wrapped tightly around your thesis.  The string leaves most of the iron rod still visible, just as style should never get in the way of substance.  Style must never get in the way of substance!

And that is it.  That is my Iron Rod Illustration on how to write an outstanding essay.

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Posted on October 20, 2010, in Everything Else and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think you should seriously consider going into teaching. You have an enthusiasm for the written word that would inspire your students.

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