Writing Question

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing presentation and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

Writing a Cause & Effect Essay


Your goal is: to write a cause/effect essay that is purposeful and identifies a cause and effect relationship.

Understanding cause and effect relationships is the impetus behind a child’s question of “why?” It demonstrates complex and self-conscious thought about the relationship between things. When you explain cause and effect, one of the most important things to keep in mind is not to oversimplify an issue.

There may be many causes of any one effect and many effects of any one cause. Do not establish faulty one-to-one relationships. Using adjectives to indicate degree will often help (identifying something as the most important cause or the least significant effect).

A cause/effect essay may focus more on the cause(s) or more on the effect(s): What genetic conditions cause obesity? vs. What are the long-term psychological consequences of obesity? A cause/effect essay is generally used to 1) argue against a common assumption (violent media causes crime) or 2) develop a theory (why cancer is more prevalent in certain parts of the country).

This essay comes with a requirement for secondary research: outside reading, viewing, surveying, and interviewing. You must use two non-internet sources in your essay (but are not limited to two sources).

Part of the essay may be the analysis of the validity of what other people identify as causes or effects. What is the logic of such arguments? the validity of the resources? the credibility of the people making the arguments?

A good cause/effect essay will: use rich detail, cite pertinent examples, label things appropriately, and develop a logical argument that takes the reader from one point to the next.

To develop a cause/effect essay, you should:

-Clearly identify your subject

-Provide necessary background information

-Explain the specific connections between cause(s) and effect(s)

-Determine an organizational scheme that best fits your purpose

You must: 1) write this paper for an audience outside this classroom, 2) have an original and clear point, and 3) demonstrate your ability to effectively structure an essay.

The essay should be in the format prescribed by the MLA style guide (to begin, see the Purdue OWL website). The essay should be about 800-900 words (about 3 pages long).

As always, the most operative guidelines are to compose an intelligent and original essay.

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