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English Composition I
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• process is about HOW something happens

• It’s about listing the steps of an event

• Steps can be given as bullet points or as a simple list – do this – do that – do that

• However, a list is NOT an essay

• A process ESSAY explains

why the steps need to happen,

– the order in which they need to happen,

– the way they need to be done


• Two main types of process essay

• “How to do Something” - Instructional

– Reader could duplicate if so desires

How to embalm a corpse

– How to write an essay

• “How Something Happens” - Informational

– Usually things too big or too small to be duplicated by the reader

– How a star is formed

– How O2 and H2 combine to form water


• Writer must be able to IDENTIFY the steps

• Writer must be able to EXPLAIN the steps

• Do you know how to read?

• Do you know how to walk?

• Can you identify or explain the steps required to read or walk?

• Writer must pay attention to the process

• Allow the reader to understand the process

• Allow the reader to control the process (maybe)


• This is an ESSAY, not just instructions

• Recipes are instructions, not essays

• Do you know why you add each ingredient?

• Do you know why they are done in that order?

• Can you explain the process or just tell us the steps?

• The more complete the explanation, the more the audience will trust the process


• There should be a reason WHY we are doing THIS process, not another version

– Quality

– Price

– Speed

- etc.

• Different purposes will cause writer to explain steps differently

• Emphasize the steps that specifically reinforce your purpose


• Author should identify potential problems or easily made mistakes

• You are not there to answer questions, so you have to anticipate them

• The more questions you anticipate, the more authoritative you appear

• Anybody can repeat orders, but only somebody who’s done the process understands what can go wrong


Beginning the Process

• Successful people are often asked to share methods

• What do you add to common method?

• That becomes the focus/purpose of essay

• Identify exactly what steps exist

Introduction should set up purpose and task

Paragraphs go step by step

Conclusion emphasizes reason for this method


Body Paragraphs

• Details, Details, Details

• Don’t just tell what to do, explain WHY

• Anticipate problems, offer solutions

• Explain necessary equipment early

• Define any new terms when first used

• Make new paragraph for each new main step

• Don’t overdo the amount of information in each paragraph


How to Make Mac & Cheese

• What are your steps?

• The WHY is as important as the HOW

• Emphasize speed, quality, taste, whatever you decide you have to offer

• Each step should also help emphasize the focus and purpose

• It should be YOUR method, not THE method


The BEST Box Mac & Cheese (example)

• Use container with a tight fitting lid

• Add a little salt to water before boiling

• Flavored salt adds some nice “extra taste”

• When water is boiling add the macaroni

• Stir to make sure macaroni doesn’t stick

• After a minute, put lid on container

• Shut off heat

• Let the macaroni sit for about 3-4 minutes

• don’t open pot early!–pasta cooked just right

• Drain macaroni and set aside

• Add butter, milk and cheese sauce to pot

• Use minimal heat to combine ingredients

• When thickened, it’s done

• Immediately turn off heat – don’t scorch!

• Thus the cheese sauce forms properly – makes all the difference

• Add macaroni and stir to completely cover

• Let it sit and combine for 30-45 seconds

Develop these steps into paragraphs, explain WHY we need each step and why each step (or most of them anyway) emphasizes the quality -- and you've got a solid Process Essay