Writing Well: Write This Way

Write This Way

Here's an excellent essay written under pressure in one hour. The writer was directed to create a well-organized essay of about 350 words that supports his or her viewpoint of the following topic. The essay had to use specific details and examples.


Some critics have charged that American cities are dying, victims of neglect, crime, and decay. Others counter that American cities have never been more vital, offering unparalleled cultural, recreational, and social activities. Analyze the issue and decide which side of the argument is more valid.

Sample response:

weighs both sides of issueCities can be the liveliest, most exciting places in which to live, offering the best of our civilization. It's true that cities also have an opposite face, as grimy as the other is shiny. Poverty and despair stalk the cities' streets, claiming many a weak, poor, ill-equipped victim. Nonetheless, cities offer incomparable treasures not available anywhere else.
thesisThat's because cities are great cultural centers.
three main points: libraries, museums, theaters The finest libraries, museums, and theaters are located in major cities, because only large population centers have the money to attract such jewels. These institutions allow residents and visitors to enjoy first-class cultural events.
examples of point #1 When I was younger, my family often drove from Long Island to New York City to visit the public library, where we would walk through the cool, high-ceilinged halls and select books to read. Since I live in New York City today, I am able to visit the library often and borrow books, magazines, videos, and even photographs. I could not possibly afford to buy these materials on my own.
examples of point #2Large cities also contain magnificent museums. New York City, for example, boasts the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and the Museum of Folk Art, to mention just three. These museums contain famous paintings by such great painters as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and Matisse, as well as early American quilts, weathervanes, and even rare household utensils. We often took field trips to these museums when I was in elementary school. I remember my first sight of Picasso's mural Guernica. I had never seen anything so stirring.
examples of point #3Cities also showcase the greatest stage actors, directors, musicians, and set designers. New York City's Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway, for instance, offer a wide variety of classic and experimental theater. As a child, I saw Carol Channing in Hello Dolly and Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof. Recently, I sat mesmerized at Brian Dennehy's wrenching performance in Death of a Salesman, gasped in awe at the set design of The Lion King, and thrilled to Cathy Rigby soaring overhead in Peter Pan.
sums up thesisOnly major cities offer so many libraries, museums, and plays—not to mention sums up concerts, athletic events, and monuments. Don't get me wrong; suburbs and thesis rural areas also have their charm, but for culture, cities can can't be beat. They have it all.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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