If your instructor gave you an assignment to write a composition essay, it means that you get a significant degree of freedom. The thing is, a composition is not a particular type of an essay – rather, it is a general term denoting any kind of written creative work, essays included. What exactly you have to write depends on the rest of the instructions you get – it may mean a particular type of essay (e.g., an argumentative or a narrative one) or a freeform paper where you are free to express your opinions on the subject in any way you see fit.
It is of particular importance when you deal with a discipline with as uncertain boundaries as family and consumer science. Depending on who you ask, it may cover any number of things, from basic home economics to career planning, relationship management and the like. In other words, a composition essay in family and consumer science means a freeform assignment in a notoriously unspecific discipline. If possible, try to clarify what exactly your task is with your instructor. Otherwise, make your decision based on the contents of the course you are currently taking and the topics you covered so far.
Unless you know what you want to write about from the very beginning, you will have to brainstorm your topic. Even if you have a clear idea of what direction you want your composition to take, you can benefit from spending some time polishing the topic and narrowing it down. Brainstorming takes many different forms, and it is impossible to single out a single optimal approach – try out different things and see what works for you. Some examples include:
Eventually, you should end with a topic that is interesting, researchable and not exhaustively covered by other scholars. Something like this:
There are four basic modes of writing (other classifications may offer a different number of different names for particular types, but the general pattern remains the same): argumentative, narrative, expository and descriptive. Each of them has vastly different purposes and structure – this means that you should consider your topic carefully and decide which mode better suits your goals. If you simply want to share the results of your research into a particular topic without proving a particular point, go for expository style. If you have a strong opinion that is not broadly accepted, choose argumentative approach.
In academic environment, every paper exists within the context of everything else that has been written on the topic in question before. It is especially important in the case of family and consumer science, because this discipline deals with a subject that a) is highly dynamic and b) is closely interconnected with a variety of other sciences, such as psychology, sociology, nutrition science and so on. When you make a statement, you have to prove that it is not your unsupported conjecture but something connected with the existing body of research.
Preparing an outline is a crucial step when writing a composition. It helps you organize your thoughts at the pre-writing stage and prevents you from forgetting what you should mention while you write. An outline should mention:
A thesis statement is what your entire composition revolves around. It contains the most important thought of your paper, all the rest is needed only to provide supporting details and back up your claim.
An introduction may be the shortest part of a composition, but it is also the most important one, because you will not get another chance at making the first impression. Do not try to write it before you write the rest of the essay – in this case, it will not reflect the actual content of the text. If you are serious about your work, you will have to rewrite it from scratch once you finish the composition. Instead, set it aside and write it last of all.
The introduction begins with a ‘hook’ – a sentence or two aimed at attracting the audience’s attention, showing that you have something interesting to say and motivating them to read on. There is no universal formula to writing a good hook, especially in an open-ended assignment like a composition essay. However, some themes crop up in this position rather often:
Body paragraphs are where you express your thoughts and ideas. They are what the reader came for. This is why you should pay special attention to structuring them consistently and making them as clear as possible. Consider using the following approach:
A composition should not just present facts, arguments and evidence, but also do it in a coherent manner. Structurally you achieve it by arranging the contents of your assignment in a logical order. However, you need something more to ensure the smooth flow of text, and this something is transitional words and phrases. They can be subdivided into many types, with the most prominent being:
Starting to revise a paper immediately after finishing it is never a good idea. Let it lie for a day or two and get back to it when you can see it from a fresh perspective. You will immediately start noticing issues you overlooked before.
As a person who wrote the paper, you are never the best judge of its quality. Ask somebody, preferably more than one person, to read your composition and tell you what he/she thinks about it. Is it logical? Are there any grammar or spelling mistakes? Is it easy to follow? Did you miss anything?
Reread your composition focusing on removing unnecessary words. Ask yourself whether you really need this word, clause, sentence or even paragraph to prove your point. If you feel that it does not help your argument progress and you included it only to boost word count, remove or shorten it. This is why you should not try to fit into the word count with your first draft – unless you are a very good writer, you will have to remove plenty of text anyway.
There are two types of revision. First (which is the meaning usually assigned to this word) means reading what you wrote and fixing problems to improve it. There is nothing wrong about it, but by focusing solely on correcting mistakes you can lose sight of the second type, i.e., singling out the primary purpose of your composition and looking for a way to achieve it better. If on rereading the final version of your composition you see that you could have done a better job if you approached the task from a different direction, do not hesitate to start over. It may be painful, but is likely to result in a much better paper.
Proofreading should be the last stage of the revision process. By the time you get to it, you should get done with all the significant changes you make to the paper and focus on smaller issues. Make a list of your common mistakes and reread the composition several times, focusing on one type of mistakes at a time. If you doubt your knowledge of grammar and syntax, use online grammar checkers. Cross-check their findings – these tools are far from ideal. If you are not sure if the grammar checker is correct, better consult a professional proofreader or at least look it up in a grammar textbook.
Follow these instructions, and no composition essay will be too difficult for you!