ENG 111

Essay 1: Cause or Effect

Cause/Effect writing is essentially two different kinds of perspective taking, each focusing on the consequences of something. This genre is especially effective when looking at the impact of something in order to get to greater understanding, and it is only when we understand these consequences that we can change, appreciate, and/or learn from them. For example, many people over the last 16 years have looked at the causes of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, and just as many have explored the effects of 9/11. Each of these approaches is from a different perspective, and each can teach us in various ways; if we were to write papers on this topic, each paper would be dramatically different.

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Your task is to write a Cause/Effect essay exploring some aspect of your life that impacted you in a significant way and molded you into the person you are today. Remember that you are selecting only ONE of these perspectives as your primary focus: cause OR effect. For example, if you are a parent, you can write about what caused you to want to have children OR you can write your essay on the effects that having children has had on your life. In each essay, the focus is YOU and your experiences; you are not writing a general essay on parenting or making an argument about who should have children and/or what people should keep in mind when having children. Your focus is YOU. What happened to cause you to decide to have children? OR What effects have your children had on your life?In doing this, you will need to rely exclusively on personal experience, but make sure you are also not turning this into a narrative essay. For instance, if you turn in 3 pages detailing one single moment (the moment your child was born, for example), that is one story and not a cause/effect essay. You need multiple examples (taken from various moments in your life) in each paragraph, each with enough specifics to be effective proof. Remember the abstraction ladder as you craft your essay and include details from the most concrete/specific end of the ladder. Your point is to explain the abstract with the concrete. Topics for this paper are as varied as we are; do some prewriting and choose carefully. Final papers should be 3-4 pages.

Manuscript format for polished essay:

  • Typed, double-spaced, 12 point font
  • Number pages
  • In the upper left-hand corner of page 1, type:

Your Name

Professor Meisel

English 111

The Date

Although this is a personal essay, please do not choose a topic that is so personal that it will make you feel uncomfortable to share it with me or your classmates.

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