Super Mario

Power-Up Your Writing! – Don’t Be Confined by the Five-Paragraph Essay Mentality

Both writers and gamers have an endless number of questions to contemplate. For example, I have always wondered why Princess Peach continues to allow herself to be kidnapped by Bowser. Seriously, I would assume after being captured the first few times she would have better security by now.

As for writing, have you, dear reader, ever thought about why you write some or all of your essays using five paragraphs?

For many, the answer is “I don’t know”. That’s okay! The MWC staff 1
and I are here to help as you ponder this query.2

Let’s start off by taking a look at the positive aspects of the five-paragraph essay.


Clearly, the 5-paragraph essay isn’t all bad. However, you should take a cue from Mario and power-up your next essay by considering these helpful tips:


Mario CharacterDo not limit your analysis to three main points using three body paragraphs. Also, don’t force yourself to have three main points and three body paragraphs. If you can write a better quality essay with two main points, go for it!


Mario CharacterAvoid the boring and extremely stereotypical transitional phrases.Transitions are important! Sometimes it takes a sentence or two, and other times you may need a transitional paragraph. Consider looking at your paper in parts – is there a cohesive “flow” from one idea to the next? Remember, your main ideas are meant to support your claim as a whole. Make sure you are connecting the dots.


Mario CharacterThe best way to make sure you are transitioning well is to stay organized! Draw a mind map or Venn diagram to outline your paper. These outlines are great visual aids to help keep you on the right track.4


Mario CharacterIf all else fails, just sit down and write! Don’t worry about how many pages you need or the number of paragraphs you feel that you should have. Save the formatting details for when you revise.5 It is far more important that you are supporting your claim, not worrying about writing a sixth paragraph so that your paper doesn’t look like a five-paragraph essay.6

If you need help on your mission to break away from the confines of the five-paragraph essay mentality, think of the tutors at the MWC as your Luigi or Yoshi7 – the trusty allies who are here to help you at any point in your writing process.

Keep in mind that you should never settle for being plain old Mario when you can be Dragon Mario…
Dragon Mario

Always be Dragon Mario.


1 Shout-out to James (MWC Director), Rebecca, Jake, and Courtney for inspiring and being references for this post!

2 I am also totally open to having a discussion about the Princess Peach situation.

3 You know the dreaded transitions I’m referring to: firstly, secondly, lastly, and in conclusion.

4 Please note that I did not say the Venn diagram has to be only two circles. Nor did I tell you how many branches you need to draw for your mind map.

5 This means you have to start early!

6 If it looks like a penguin and it swims like a penguin, it might just be Mario in a penguin suit.

7 Personally, I prefer Yoshi.



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