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When developing a paragraph or essay through process analysis, you should keep several points in mind:
- Be sure to include all steps and arrange them in sequence.
- Explain why each step is necessary, and include warnings where appropriate.
- Define any terms that your readers may not be familiar with.
- Offer clear descriptions of any tools, materials, or equipment needed to carry out the process.
- Provide your readers with a way of determining whether or not the process has been carried out successfully.
Here's a draft of a short process analysis essay, "How to Make a Sand Castle." In terms of content, organization, and cohesion, the draft has both strengths and weaknesses. Read (and enjoy) this student composition, and then respond to the evaluation questions at the end.
How to Make a Sand Castle
For young and old alike, a trip to the beach means relaxation, adventure, and a temporary escape from the worries and responsibilities of ordinary life. Whether swimming or surfing, tossing a volleyball or just snoozing in the sand, a visit to the beach means fun. The only equipment you need is a twelve-inch deep pail, a small plastic shovel, and plenty of moist sand.
Making a sandcastle is a favorite project of beach-goers of all ages. Begin by digging up a large amount of sand (enough to fill at least six pails) and arranging it in a pile. Then, scoop the sand into your pail, patting it down and leveling it off at the rim as you do. You can now construct the towers of your castle by placing one pailful of sand after another face down on the area of the beach that you have staked out for yourself. Make four towers, placing each mound twelve inches apart in a square. This done, you are ready to build the walls that connect the towers. Scoop up the sand along the perimeter of the fortress and arrange a wall six inches high and twelve inches long between each pair of towers in the square. By scooping up the sand in this fashion, you will not only create the walls of the castle, but you will also be digging out the moat that surrounds it. Now, with a steady hand, cut a one-inch square block out of every other inch along the circumference of each tower. Your spatula will come in handy here. Of course, before doing this, you should use the spatula to smooth off the tops and sides of the walls and towers.
You have now completed your very own sixteenth-century sandcastle. Though it may not last for centuries or even until the end of the afternoon, you can still take pride in your handicraft. Do make sure, however, that you have chosen a fairly isolated spot in which to work; otherwise, your masterpiece may be trampled by beach bums and children. Also, make a note on the high tides so that you have enough time to build your fortress before the ocean arrives to wash it all away.
- What important information seems to be missing from the introductory paragraph? Which sentence from the body paragraph might be placed more effectively in the introduction?
- Identify the transitional words and phrases used to guide the reader clearly from step to step in the body paragraph.
- Which piece of equipment mentioned in the body paragraph doesn't appear in the list at the end of the introductory paragraph?
- Suggest how the single long body paragraph might be effectively divided into two or three shorter paragraphs.
- Notice that the writer includes two warnings in the concluding paragraph of the essay. Where do you think these warnings should have been placed, and why?
- Which two steps have been listed in reverse order? Rewrite these steps, arranging them in a logical sequence.