Writing an Effects Essay

After watching The Help (a great movie!) this weekend, I started thinking that it might be useful for explaining how to put together an effects essay.

Effects are results, so my essay will focus on what happened to me as I watched the movie.

My first step is to do some freewriting to explore my reactions. (I did that before I started writing this post.) Reading over my freewriting, I realized that rage was my strongest reaction. So now I have a thesis: The Help enraged me. That will go in my first paragraph, after I’ve written an attention-getter (probably a little story from the movie) and some background (the basic story line).

Now I have to write three body paragraphs about rage. This is where it gets tough. I will have to omit many interesting and moving parts of the film because they don’t fit with my thesis (the humor, for example, the love story, and the deep friendships between the Black domestic workers).

Sticking to the thesis is hard for most writers (including me). I’d rather wander all over the events in the movie – but that’s a discovery draft, not a finished essay that can be submitted to a teacher or professor.

OK. I’ve done more freewriting and realized I felt three kinds of rage. Now I’m ready to write my essay. Each body paragraph will deal with a different kind of rage I felt:

1)  Black citizens in the Deep South were denied basic protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (such as freedom of speech and assembly).

2)  No legislation covered the working conditions for Black domestic workers (no paid vacation, minimum wage).

3)  White employers demeaned their Black domestic workers (it was ok for Black women to rear white children but not to use the family bathroom).

Each paragraph must stick closely to the type of rage I’m exploring (basic protections, working conditions, demeaning attitude). Every sentence I write has to be connected to rage.

My conclusion will wrap up the essay. I have to be careful there not to wander off into a new topic.

Writing a good essay about effects takes time and effort. (So does any kind of good writing!) Having a plan eliminates a lot of wasted time and ensures a better result.

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