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Methods of Essay Development

March 13th, 2011

essay-writing-method.jpgWhen you are writing an essay for a class, you will first need to determine the approach that you are going to use for your writing. This is also known as the method of development. These methods help you to form your paragraphs to best suit the material you are covering. Some essays will use several of these methods of development to better deliver the ideas across to readers.

Story Telling

A narration tells a story, including characters, a plot, and action. This method presents a problem and shows how the characters work through that problem. Events should be followed in order. This should not simply be a rundown of the events, but also create tension or a sense of excitement. This method of development is typically not used throughout the essay, but more commonly is used to introduce the essay or include an element of personal experience. The story generally illustrates what the essay will be about. It is typically written in the first person.


A process method explains to readers how to do something. This method includes plenty of information about the process, including necessary materials, the steps you will need to take and facts about the process. The subject in this method should be something that the writer is familiar with to ensure accurate information. It should not be about a simple task or something that most people already know how to do. This method is typically written in the second person.


When it is necessary to break things into categories, an analysis approach can be used in an essay. The subject that is used for this method should have at least three sub-categories to ensure that there is enough substance to the paper. You can get creative with the categories to break up the subject. The different categories should be explained, as well as including various objects or tasks that fit into each category.


The division method of development is often confused with classification because this method also involves splitting the subject into categories. However, unlike classification, division splits the subject up into qualities, rather than actual objects. For instance, instead of splitting up restaurants into specific types of restaurants, a division essay splits the subject up into features of restaurants, such as themes and service. The categories should be clearly stated in the introduction, while the description and content will be included in separate paragraphs addressing each category.

Compare and Contrast

An essay that will need to compare at least two different subjects should be written with the compare and contrast, or judgment, method. You should work out ahead of time the comparisons and contrasts you wish to include. A diagram can help with this work. There are two ways to approach this method. The body of this essay can begin with one item and cover the points for that specific item. The essay would then move on to the second item and cover the points for that item. Otherwise the writer can address each item point by point.

Cause and Effect

This cause and effect method of writing a paper allows you to address the subject and what effects it might have or what has caused the effects of the subject. You must ask yourself whether the paper will deal more with causes or with effects. For instance, the subject might be an effect, such as divorce. You will spend more time addressing the possible causes of the divorce. Alternatively, the subject may be a cause, such as losing a job. On this subject, you will need to address the effects this issue would have on a person.


When a writer wants to give an example to his readers, the illustration method of development should be used. This method is created to make a point to readers. A large portion of this method will address examples that validate the point you are trying to get across. You must ensure that all of the examples used in the essay fit with the point you are trying to make.


A descriptive essay method will describe something to readers. You must choose a subject and give the reader details about that subject. This method should not involve telling a story, but should instead give readers a clear picture of what is being described. You can choose to give an objective description, which uses facts about the subject that do not change no matter who is observing it. An impressionistic description can also be used, detailing the subject in a more subjective manner.


Some essays require that you persuade your readers to think a certain way or to use a specific product. The point of this method is to convince the readers that your way of thinking is the right way or that the product being described is the best one for the job. This argumentative essay method requires you to evaluate who your audience is and write to that audience. You must determine how best to persuade the audience and find facts to support that argument.

This article on essay development methods was supplied by Kim Finnigan from Constant Content.

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