Earthquakes cover as much ground in essay writing as they do in the real world. You can relate a personal earthquake experience, describe the steps to become a seismologist, narrate the earthquake history of a certain location or compare earthquakes to other natural disasters. Then you can choose to describe your topic, narrate a specific incident, analyse earthquake effects or argue for a better earthquake coping mechanism. These rich options challenge you to narrow your focus and define your purpose upfront. Then use sound research and a simple essay format to convey your informed message about earthquakes clearly and concisely.
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Narrow your focus. Choose an area about earthquakes that fascinates or intrigues you and then restrict your focus further within it. For example, go from earthquakes in general to the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and from its effect on the Haitian people to orphans specifically.
Decide on your angle. Perform cursory research on your selected topic and then decide whether you want to narrate, explain, analyse, argue or persuade your readers to take action.
Establish your thesis and identify several subtopics that exemplify or otherwise support your thesis. Develop a thesis statement that contains both elements. For example, "Seismology is a sound career to consider. You work outdoors most of the time, study the causes and effects of earthquakes in depth, and help to discover ways to limit their damage."
Outline your introduction, body and conclusion. Focus your research on the data that you need to amplify your subtopics. For instance, for the subtopic, "The Richter scale is an inadequate earthquake measurement tool," in your outline, add three bullets corresponding to case studies that illustrate that claim.
Write your introductory paragraph to compel further reading. First, provide a lead-in that gives earthquakes an interesting or original slant, then narrow your focus and end with a statement of your thesis. For example, "My family barely escaped calamity in last summer's earthquake. Many of our neighbours were not so lucky; they lost homes and lives. Clearly, our homes still don't adequately protect us from shifts in the seismic plates beneath us. We need to better earthquake-proof our area with a building code that is stronger in three major areas: (a), (b) and (c)."
Assign one or two paragraphs to address each subtopic. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence followed by supporting facts or examples. For example, state that "Governments should discourage new developments over known earthquake faults." Follow this topic sentence with a description of three communities that earthquakes virtually demolished.
End your essay clearly and confidently. Begin your conclusion with "in summary" or "in brief," then restate your thesis and subtopics. Engage your readers with one final, memorable or compelling statement or anecdote. For example, "Compassion can be as earth-shaking as an earthquake, but with the opposite effect. Investigate how you can help to rebuild the lives of Haitian earthquake orphans today."
Tips and warnings
- Sometimes your research leads you to a different conclusion than your thesis originally set out to prove. Adjust your thesis statement accordingly.
- Keep your sentences short and coherent. As much as possible, use active verbs throughout.
- Use transitional expressions between sentences and paragraphs; words such as "moreover," "consequently" and "finally," help your readers follow your train of thought and move smoothly from one thought to the next.
- Review your essay for spelling and grammar errors and any weaknesses in its flow. If possible, recruit a friend to help you proofread your essay before you submit it.
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