Here’s a key concept to apply as you draft an essay using a pattern of development: indicate the pattern of thought in your thesis.
Use the wording of your thesis to identify the thought pattern, main concepts, and order of support in the essay. Each of these patterns suggests a specific order for the topic sentences and units of support.
Here are some examples, for an essay on the topic of growing organic vegetables. You should be able to anticipate, just by reading the thesis, the exact pattern of development and type of information that’s coming in the essay. It’s usually a good idea to use words that clearly identify the pattern of development right in the thesis sentence.
|Process Analysis||Growing organic vegetables requires many specific [steps], including choosing the right location, preparing the earth in a certain way, and dealing organically with pests, among others.|
|Comparison & Contrast||The organic farming of vegetables is both [similar and different] to non-organic vegetable farming, in terms of process, ingredients, and cost.|
|Classification & Division||There are [many different ways] of growing vegetables organically, depending on factors as individual and diverse as purpose, soil, and resources.|
|Cause & Effect||There are many [reasons why] all vegetable farms should incorporate organic farming techniques into their vegetable production.|
|Combination||Both organic and commercial vegetable growing have [similar processes]; however, growing vegetables organically has many beneficial [effects] on the environment in each [step of the process], [compared] to non-organic methods.|
*[words that identify the pattern of development are in brackets]
Here’s a second key concept: all of these traditional essay patterns or structures can be used in many types of essays and other types of writing.
- A research paper might use cause and effect structure, if the purpose is to research causes and/or effects of an inactive adult lifestyle. A news editorial might also use cause and effect structure, if the purpose is to focus on the effects of school shootings on the survivors.
- An analytical essay might use a comparison and contrast structure, if the purpose is to analyze two theories of child development. A business proposal might also use comparison and contrast structure, if the purpose is to show how the action proposed is more cost-effective, less time-consuming, and easier to do than the alternative solutions.
- A logical argument essay might use a division and classification structure, if the purpose is to offer different theories about causes of stress in children under the age of eight. A white paper for a community planning board might also use division and classification structure, if the purpose is to offer different categories of reasons reasons why building traffic circles is a good or bad idea for the community.
- An observation/reflection essay might use a process analysis structure, if the purpose is to explain a series of events that occurred. A procedures manual for managers might also use a process analysis structure if the purpose is to explain how to deal with an employee argument as it escalates.
And here’s a third key concept: patterns of development can be combined, and in fact often are combined, in essays and other forms of writing.
If your thesis makes an argument about the need to clarify laws contesting a copyright, at different points in the essay you might logically explain the reasons behind copyright (cause), different types of copyright (comparison and contrast), different types of material that can be copyrighted (division and classification), and current steps in contesting a copyright (process analysis). All of these thought patterns are usable individually and in combination.
Finally, you can use these patterns of development as templates, especially when you’re starting out as a college writer. As you progress as a writer, you’ll uncover many other ways to develop, organize, and present your ideas that grow organically from your thesis, content, and purpose.