The Big Idea by Pamela Mytroen

If you think writing essays aren’t important, ask the thousands of immigrants who have studied, worked, and filled out paperwork. They have all been required to write an essay on their journey to permanent residency or citizenship in Canada. Why? Because the government wants them to be able to raise literate children, to be able to function well in the workplace, (ie – be able to negotiate and persuade) and to be able to stand up for themselves in an environment that continually grows more malicious. Sounds like good reasons for natural-born Canadians as well.

An essay is an idea or opinion that you say right off the top and then you support your idea. In other words, you have to persuade your reader of your idea.

What’s most important to you? That’s your first step and an essay will flounder without it.

So What is your main idea? Pickles on your sandwich? Hockey without dangerous checking? Schools that inform parents of student’s decisions? Freedom of expression in newspapers? A fair price for your product? A universal definition of truth?

A keyword that immigrants use in writing their thesis (a big word that just means their main idea) is “should.” This makes it a little easier to figure out what’s important to you. For example: “Every writer should practice writing at least fifteen minutes a day” or “Christmas should not be a time of stress.”

Another … “Tourists travelling to Mexico should be immunized first.” Because, if you learn how to write a strong essay, you can sell it. And travel to Mexico. And lay on the beach.

P.S. Ever read a piece that meanders like the Wood River, and you don’t remember what you just read? Next week, we will look at how to support your essay and unify it so your reader leaves with one strong thought in his head, rather than scratching their head.

If Pam Mytroen could spend all day in her kitchen baking pies, brownies, and making turkey dinner for friends, she would. But Murray Pura once told her to write first and then bake—advice that she is trying to stick with these days, except, of course, when her grandchildren stop in for milk and cookies.

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  1. Sharon Espeseth says:

    You make a very good point about using the “should” statement to frame your idea. You also remind us that it is important for each of to be able to express our ideas and opinions in a coherent manner. Whether that expression be oral or written depends on the circumstances. Thanks for this blog, I mean essay, Pam.

  2. Pamela Mytroen says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Sharon!

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