How to Start Writing an Essay – The Five Paragraph Essay Model


Starting to write an essay can be a challenge. This five paragraph model is one way for us to get started. The sample essay is about computers. The first paragraph introduces the topic.
Paragraph 1: Introduces the topic
Example
Computer technology has significantly changed how we live and how we work. At least, that’s what my parents tell me. I’m too young to know what life was like for them without computers. I know only how computers are part of my life. Now that you’ve introduced the topic, your next step is to discuss your first idea.
Paragraph 2: One idea
Example
When my parents were my age, computers were rare. My mother had to write letters or telephone when she wanted to talk to her cousin in Los Angeles. I can only imagine sending letters and waiting for weeks to receive a reply. Computers make our lives easier. If I could not use computers, I could not communicate with others as easily. You’ve introduced one idea. The next paragraph introduces a second idea.
Paragraph 3: Another idea
Example
However there are disadvantages that computer use can cause. We can spend too much time online and neglect other important tasks such as studying. I used to spend so many hours using my computer and communicating with others that I sometimes missed exams. I often used the computer to chat, which was so interesting that I did not leave myself enough time to study. In a way, computers taught me to discipline myself and manage my time. The next paragraph introduces another idea. Notice that each idea has examples and information.
Paragraph 4: A third idea
Example
Computers have introduced me to the world outside Japan. I have a penpal in San Francisco and another in Thailand. With both pals, I use English. These email exchanges have helped me to improve my English writing. Plus I enjoy learning about cable cars in San Francisco and the variety of bananas in Thailand. Now you’re going to finish your essay. The last paragraph is simply a summary of some of what you’ve already said.
Paragraph 5: Conclusion
Example
Computers have enriched my life. I know people in San Francisco and in Bangkok, people I would not have known without my computer. I have learned to discipline my time use and I have enjoyed myself. I cannot imagine my life without a computer.
One way of looking at writing is to think of your writing as a person. You’re taking this person to a party. You arrive at the party and introduce your friend (Paragraph 1). Your friend gets into conversations (Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4). At the end of the evening, you and your friend go home and your friend summarizes the party (Paragraph 5). If looking at the paragraphs in that way helps you, terrific. If it does not, perhaps you could create an image for yourself that might work.
Here’s the complete essay.
The Essay
Computer technology has significantly changed how we live and how we work. At least, that’s what my parents tell me. I’m too young to know what life was like for them without computers. I know only how computers are part of my life.
When my parents were my age, computers were rare. My mother had to write letters or telephone when she wanted to talk to her cousin in Los Angeles. I can only imagine sending letters and waiting for weeks to receive a reply. Computers make our lives easier. If I could not use computers, I could not communicate with others as easily.
However there are disadvantages that computer use can cause. We can spend too much time online and neglect other important tasks such as studying. I used to spend so many hours using my computer and communicating with others that I sometimes missed exams. I often used the computer to chat, which was so interesting that I did not leave myself enough time to study. In a way, computers taught me to discipline myself and manage my time.
Computers have introduced me to the world outside Japan. I have a penpal in San Francisco and another in Thailand. With both pals, I use English. These email exchanges have helped me to improve my English writing. Plus I enjoy learning about cable cars in San Francisco and the variety of bananas in Thailand.

Computers have enriched my life. I know people in San Francisco and in Bangkok, people I would not have known without my computer. I have learned to discipline my time use and I have enjoyed myself. I cannot imagine my life without a computer.