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Cause and Effect In-Class Essay

Preparatory Homework – Examples of “Cause and Effect” essays:

Brent Staples, “A Black Man Ponders His Ability to Alter Public Space”

Sharon Begley, “The Stereotype Trap”

In Class (exercise and discussion):

Stephen King, “Why We Crave Horror Movies”

Essay Assignment:

Reality TV shows have become a recent phenomenon in popular culture. Explain why this has occurred. Describe the subject (reality TV), and propose possible causes for this phenomenon. Your purpose is to convince your readers that the proposed causes are plausible.

Follow the example of Stephen King’s essay, “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” You may model the structure of your essay closely after his, even paragraph by paragraph, if you wish. For example, first suggest an obvious cause that your readers might relate to. Then, move onto another believable cause, but be sure that is quite different from the first. Lastly, propose a hidden or surprising cause. It may challenge your readers’ expectations, but defend it vigorously.

Your tone of voice, like King’s, may be conversational, funny, or provocative. Unlike King, please do not use “I,” “you,” or too many “But’s” and “And’s” to begin your sentences. King experiments with sentence rhythms with multiple dashes and semi-colons — too many, in my opinion. Feel free to write interesting rhythms, but I’d rather that you use clean, crisp sentences to do so. His short, bold statements are by far the most powerful ones.

Aim to make this short essay entirely free of mechanical errors. It should read smoothly, aided by clever transition sentences. I’m interested in quality over quantity, to use a cliché. You are limited to an hour because I want you to make every word count. This is a flab-free zone.