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Planning to Win: Essay Maps Part III

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So now we’ve worked out our arguments, how do you get from that to a full paragraph? It’s actually pretty simple - this post shows you how.
This is Part 5 of 5 in the series How to Write a Good Essay Every Time
<<Previous Post: Planning to Win: Essay Maps Part II


In this series we’ve been working on an essay about the Hunger Games:

Hunger Games essay topic

In the last post we worked out our contention (overall argument) and sub-contentions (supporting arguments):

Contention: Despite the text centering around the battles in the arena of the Hunger Games, it is the politically repressive Capitol who is the true antagonist of the text. The Capitol controls the citizens of Panem, and treats them with extreme cruelty. The tributes have few choices, and are deeply affected by the Hunger Games.

Sub-contention 1: The Capitol designed the Hunger Games as a way to divide and therefore control the Districts.

Sub-contention 2: The Capitol is very cruel to the citizens of Panem and the tributes – cruelty is embedded in every aspect of their system.

Sub-contention 3: The Capitol forces people to compete in the Hunger Games even though they know that it has terrible mental effects on the tributes.

 

We’re going to write a paragraph about each of these sub-contentions, which will become the body of our essay. Then we whack an introduction and a conclusion at the end, give it a bit of an edit, and we’re done!

 

First what we need to do is find evidence to support each of these sub-contentions. Let’s start with Sub-contention 1.

Sub-contention 1: The Capitol designed the Hunger Games as a way to divide and therefore control the Districts.

You need to look for evidence in the text (if its an English essay about a text), or you may need to do some research. You can also look back at what you wrote in your brainstorm.  Here’s evidence that supports Sub-Contention 1:

  • Katniss quote: ‘Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District 13’.”
  • You can’t actually meet people from other Districts.
  • The Capitol exploits the Districts economically.
  • Districts 1, 2 and 4 get special treatment.

Have a look over your evidence – taken all together, does it prove your point? Would it convince you to believe the sub-contention? Also make sure that it is the right amount of information for one paragraph. I feel pretty good about the evidence, so now we have everything we need to write our first paragraph.

 

A good way to start each body paragraph is with a sub-contention (you don’t have to, but it always works well).  You can also use STEEL, TEEL, PETAL or PEEL to help you write your paragraph.

After the Districts’ unsuccessful revolt 75 years ago, the Capitol designed the Hunger Games as a way to divide and therefore control them. As Katniss says “the real message is clear. ‘Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District 13′.” Separating the Districts, in fact enclosing them, is a high barbed wire fence.  It is almost impossible to travel beyond the fence, or meet people from other Districts. The Capitol’s system consists of different Districts providing different resources, such as coal, timber and crops for the Capitol. The citizens of the Capitol live like royalty while the citizens of most Districts are poor and exploited. Katniss is forced to break the rules and enter the dangerous forest, just so her family has something to eat. While districts like Katniss’ suffer to survive, Districts 1, 2 and 4 live better than the rest. They are also allowed to train their tributes for the Hunger Games – giving their tributes a massive advantage and earning them the nickname ‘Careers’. This is part of the strategy of divide and rule, as Districts 1, 2 and 4 provide soldiers for the Capitol and support their oppression of the other Districts.

Now you can follow the same process for your second and third paragraphs.

 

A really important point: sometimes you might have trouble finding evidence to support an argument you want to make, or you might find evidence that you’re wrong. If that’s the case you’ll need to change your argument – you’re not a monster!

 

This means that your essay planning will often go back and forth between stages as you try to get it all to fit together. In fact it is often easier to start by working out your evidence, then your sub-contentions, and then your overall contention.

 

In our next post we’ll pull all of this together, so stay tuned!

<<Previous Post: Planning to Win: Essay Maps Part II
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