• Define what your term means -- to you.
  • Your perspective, opinion, experience…
  • Discuss your 3 most significant characteristics, aspects, features, traits – to you.
  • Positive or negative.
  • Strengths or weaknesses.
  • kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness, gentleness, generosity
  • humanity, sympathy, empathy, charity, open-mindedness
  • intelligence, aptitude, ingenuity, athleticism
  • honesty, sincerity, perseverance, hard-work, drive,
  • family, love, warmth, self-sacrifice, God, holiness, tradition
  • selfishness, egocentricity, narcissism,materialism
  • viciousness, vindictiveness, dishonesty, lying, cheating, stealing
  • depression, loneliness, isolation, debt, greed, gluttony, indulgence, waste, decadence

***The list of abstractions on the PowerPoint can be used as a “checklist” for this essay. That is, if you are having a difficult time thinking of traits to describe your term, you can use that list to help you find characteristics that define it. ***

  • This is NOT a “reasons” essay or a “types” essay;
  • Instead, it IS a “characteristics” paper in which you are defining a term through your personal understanding.
  • This is NOT a research paper, either.
  • Use your own beliefs, feelings, and experiences.
  • If you use a quote from a song, place quotation marks around it and place the band in the parenthetical.




  • Opening generalization or quote
  • deductively narrow toward Thesis
  • tip your hat to the minor characteristics

Thesis = Definition

  • personal understanding of the term
  • *characteristics = “3 of a kind”
  • 3 nouns OR 3 adjectives
  • Don’t mix = faulty parallelism
  • However, the term can be defined in terms of (3 most important, defining traits).
  • However, the three most significant traits of the term are….


  • each paragraph = 1 characteristic, trait, feature, attribute
  • (3 traits total = 3 Body paragraphs)
  • (save the “best” for last – emphatic order)

(1) name the trait in a strong Topic Sentence

  • One characteristic of (the term) is ______.
  • While __ and __ are major characteristics of me, __ is truly the most significant.

(2) explain briefly the trait

  • Briefly clarify what you mean by the trait
  • That is to say, ….

(3) Illustratethe trait

  • Use descriptive examples
  • relate a specific, detailed instance in which your thoughts, words, or actions clearly illustrate the trait you are discussing in a paragraph
  • 2 detailed instances per trait **
  • This is the biggest part of the paragraph.
  • For instance, For example

(4) End the paragraph with a Clincher Sentence/Warrant Statement

  • Reiterate your Topic Sentence (not verbatim)
  • Thus, Therefore


  • Bring the essay full-circle
  • Repeat the opening gambit
  • Repeat the minor characteristics
  • Repeat the major characteristics
  • SO WHAT?!
  • What does this definition mean, teach you about the term?
  • End with a Clincher Sentence