What is a cause and effect essay?
“For every action, there is an equal and an opposite reaction” all the physics lovers know this law by heart. This is Newton’s third law of motion. Well, not to bore you with high school physics any further, Newton’s third law of motion summarizes the whole idea of cause and effect essays. It postulates the relationship between an action and the resulting consequences of the same.
If you drop a pebble in a quiet still waters or any other fluid for that matter, there are ripple effects created from that one single disturbance. The ripples created from miniature waves that move concentrically outwards from the center. The nature of the waves is such that the most massive waves are the closest to the drop point and they reduce size as they move along. This summarizes what the cause and effect essays represent.
So, what exactly are the cause and effect essays?
The cause and effect essays are writings that investigate the causes and link them to the effects of a specific event, occurrence or even behavior. These essays probe into the rationale of causes and explain why they happened, and most importantly they tie the said causes to the effects. To establish the causes, you need to ask yourself, “What led to this?” and to find the effects you need to ask “what happened as a result of this?”
These cause and effect essays are introduced early in the education systems form as early as high school all the way to colleges. In the early years of their introduction, they might be confused with the compare and contrast essays. Other than that, they are pretty straightforward. All you need to do is identify two separate events that you think are related and then tie up the events. One event should have led to the occurrence of the other.
How to write a cause and effect essay
- Identify the topic/thesis
As a general first step to every essay, you should choose what to write. When picking a topic for your cause and effect essay, there are some things you might want to consider. First, select a topic that is relevant. Relevancy in this case referring to significant life events, either in your personal life or a major historical event. Such topic will give you a wide range of topics and effects for you to write. Secondly, choose topics that the reader can relate. Avoid very complicated topics that can easily get your reader confused.
Choosing a topic will make writing your essay easier, right? However, your instructor may provide a topic for you, much as you would want to choose an exciting topic for yourself. In such cases, you have to make do with what you have. Most topics, nonetheless, are based on major events and therefore are relatively easy to write.
- Make a list
After picking a topic, you need to do your research on the topic. Read extensively around the topic to have a solid knowledge of what you will write. Understand what led to the event and what happened afterward as a direct result of the action or event.
When doing your research, it is always a good practice to make a list of the causes and effects. Start with the causes, beginning with the most direct and immediate cause then trace your way back to the other minute causes. You should also use a similar approach when making a list of effects. Start with the immediate effect, and then move down the wave ladder to the minute ripple effects of the event or action. You can alternatively make a list starting with the causes and effects that you consider more important as you work your way down to the least significant causes and effects. This list will help you avoid missing out on essential points.
You can further break down the list of effects by dividing them into social, economic, political, psychological, and physical effects. Such subdivisions will ensure that you never run out of points.
Your causes can be divided into three main types;
- The necessary causes- these are causes that are crucial for the occurrence of certain These causes are usually accompanied by other minor contributory causes. They, however, can be the only cause of certain events.
- The contributing causes- the contributing causes potentiates the effects of other causes. They are by nature insufficient to cause effects by themselves. They require stronger causes to cause an effect.
- The sufficient causes- these causes are adequate to produce effects but are not the only cause inducing the effects.
As you make your list, you may notice that one cause may have led to several effects or you may have several causes building up to one effect. These two types require different approaches.
- Create a chronology
The best way to explain causes and effects to a person is in an orderly fashion. Using proper timeline of events will establish a chain of thought that is easier for the readers to follow. For example, when asked to write about causes and effects of World War II, it is better to start from the very first trigger of the war.
Build a traceable chain of events, one event triggering the occurrence of the next up until the commencement of the war. Spend some time on the war itself because that is where the causes and the effects meet. After explaining the war, proceed to the effects linking every effect to the occurrence of the war. In this case, you might realize that not all the effects are directly linked to the war itself. These effects should be explained after the primary effects have been exhausted. With such a clear chronology you will be able to walk the reader through your thinking process and make them understand why you think the effects mentioned were as a result of the causes.
- Convince the reader
There are two reasons why we normally write cause and effect essays. First, to inform. Second, to convince. The best cause and effect essays strive as much as possible to convince the reader that the mentioned effects were as a result of the postulated causes. This is the problematic part of the essay. For you to convince them, you need a good grasp of knowledge of the events. Make sure your information is correct. The easiest way to win the trust of your readers is to use facts and refer to credible sources only. Once you have their trust, carefully try the cause to the effects explaining why you think they are related.
Another way of convincing your readers is using real-life examples or in case studies from credible sources.
In the spirit of putting up the best argument, you might consider limiting your points to only a few strong points. You do not want to bore and confuse your clients with too much information, now, do you? Three or four points will do the trick.
- Wrap it up
After arguing your case in the body, the conclusion gives you the opportunity to tie it all up. Use the argument, evidence, and facts in the body to finally convince the readers of the relationship between the cause and effects in your thesis. The conclusion is like the final blow in a fist fight, so make it count. Highlight the important points and their importance. The conclusion is also the part where you can make your contribution by giving your insights regarding the matter.
General Writing Tips for Writing Such Essays
- General format
Follow the general essay format of title, introduction, body, and the conclusion. The introduction needs to have a thesis statement, and the body should entail evidence and facts that support the thesis. The conclusion will then wrap up the whole discussion.
The cause and effect essays are best written chronologically. The events should be tied to both the preceding and the succeeding events. The style exploits the use of evidence and data to deduce logical reasoning to conclude the relationship between events.
- Sentence structuring
When demonstrating cause and effect in an essay, some words are used. These include; as a result of, leading to, thus, consequently, finally, due to, the reason why, brought by, because of, thereof and led to among others. The words hint on a cause effects relationship between the subject and the object in the sentences.
- Proofread your essay
It is always good to proofread your work before handing it in. You can either do it yourself, give a friend to do it for you, or read it out loud to a friend. I prefer the latter. Remember, when writing an essay, you are addressing the reader. Reading your essay out aloud will help you have a feel of how your essay sounds. You will be able to correct a lot of grammatical errors that might have been missed had you read the essay silently. You can have your friends over to listen to your essay and correct you where necessary. Whichever way you choose, never hand in work that has not been proofread.