Writing Effective Cause and Effect Essays
When it comes to essay writing, you will eventually confront issues where you have to explain why something happens and what impact it has on people, places, and things. These are the causes and effects in our lives. You can convey the information and ideas you want in an organized fashion using a cause and effect essay.
Let’s take a closer look at this type of essay: Suppose you investigate something that causes a particular result or results. You now have to write about it in a logical and coherent manner. You want your reading audience to understand fully all aspects of the situation. A cause and effect essay is self-organizing if you follow the chain of events of what you are studying.
Consider the cause of something. You are playing baseball and are standing at home plate. You swing the bat and the umpire shouts ‘Strike three, you’re out.” You have to go back to the bench and sit down. What caused this unfortunate turn of events in your sporting career. The cause was a good pitcher who blew three strikes past you at full speed. The effect is a strikeout and your batting average decreases.
Now, say you want to write an essay explaining your performance in this baseball game. You want to let your audience know how certain results came about. You want to inform them of their effects on you and the team. Because it’s a cause and effect essay, start with the cause.
You have to ask questions such as “What made this happen?” or “Why did this result occur?” Your answers give you the cause, which you can now put down into words in your essay. What caused you to strike out was the talent of a good pitcher. The pitcher threw with precision and caused this result to occur. There, you have your cause or causes and can now develop the rest of your essay.
Now you will concentrate on the effects of the cause. When considering and identifying effects, ask yourself, “What happened as a result of all of this of this?” In the baseball case, what happened was that you struck out and now your team has one less at-bat to use to try to win the game. Another effect is that aforementioned batting average going down. You may have a .298 batting average now instead of a .307 batting average. Your stats will look a shade less impressive on the score sheet and maybe in the local paper now.
Another effect may be that the team manager benches you for striking out yet again in the game. In addition, another effect may be that the opposing team has a better chance of winning the game. They may now move ahead of your team in the standings. Multiple effects can come about because of one simple strikeout at the plate. Really makes you want to brush up on those batting skills doesn’t it.
Multiple causes can lead to one or more effects. One cause can lead to one effect. You have to discern the number of each when formulating your cause and effect essay. In our baseball example, dust blowing in your eyes just as the pitcher threw the pitch may be another cause of your strikeout. Maybe a glaring sun blinded you as the pitch headed your way. These are those multiple causes leading to one or more effects.
Pinpoint the exact causes and effects. Organize them so you can present them to your audience clearly. They want to understand all the nuances of the situation you are writing about, so they can come to their own conclusions. Presenting all causes and effects will help your reader form an opinion on the event or situation.
Let your readers know what your subject or thesis is for your cause and effect essay. You may decide you want to focus your essay on the cause aspect only. Alternatively, you may wish to concentrate on the effect aspect.
Of course, you can concentrate on both aspects as we did above with the baseball essay. It all depends on what issues and ideas you want to bring to the forefront for your target audience. Look at the driving purpose of your essay, what themes you want to bring out. Then decide whether you want a broad or narrow focus.
When you present your information to the reader, give them important and relevant details. Add whatever facts, data, statistics, anecdotes, quotes, and narrative necessary for bringing out the essence of your story vividly. In the baseball example, you may want to include in your essay your past statistics in similar game situations. You may want to put in quotes from your team-mates as you returned to the bench. These will add life to your essay and give more meaning to the causes and effects.
As you plan your cause and effect essay, consider two extremely important points. First, are you writing to inform or persuade your reader? In the baseball example, are you writing to inform them only of what happened. Are you trying to persuade them that the strikeout was not your fault? Do you want to persuade them that you really are a very talented batter; that circumstances were beyond your control with the dust, sun and more?
Second, concentrate on immediate and direct causes, effects, or both. Stick to causes and effects that are close in time and related. Don’t meander down life’s highway to effects that may or may not be the result of the initial cause. Don’t go back in time to causes that may have happened years before the actual event.
You don’t want to write that the strikeout led you to give up baseball 15 years later and take up tiddlywinks. You also don’t want to write that you struck out because ten years earlier your primary school teacher said you should give up sports and become a horticulturist. Concern yourself with immediate causes and effects.
Finally, check, before you write, to make sure that an effect truly was the result of a cause. Make sure there is a link between cause and effect. If you’re not sure, then say it appears there may be a connection between the two, but further study must take place. Alternatively, don’t say anything if you’re not sure.
The cause and effect essay can serve you well as you seek to explain events and situations. Get the sequence of events straight, with the facts in place, and write to inform, persuade, enlighten, and entertain. In the meantime, get back to the batting cage, your next at-bat will be a stellar one.