Cause-Effect Analysis – Outline

The purpose of this assignment is to synthesize your understanding of a successful cause-effect essay with your understanding of analyzing elements of a short story by focusing on writing a strong thesis and clearly organized outline. In the previous assignment, you wrote a thesis for a cause-effect essay. For the current assignment, you will write an outline supporting that thesis for a planned essay, but you will not actually write the full essay itself. Instead, concentrate on the planning stage of writing a cause-effect essay. This series of activities will also help prepare you for Exam 1, in which you will write a cause-effect essay about a literary element and its effects in a different story.


  1. Re-read “The Zero Meter Diving Team”
  2. Identify as many images as you can.
    • Are they all visual?
    • Do you see any aural or tactile imagery?
    • Do you see any patterns of images or repeated images?
  3. Evaluate the effects these images have.
    • How do they contribute to the story and its meanings?
  4. Write a cause-effect thesis statement that identifies at least one pattern of images in the story as a cause and identifies several interesting effects (or results).
  5. Put this thesis statement at the top of your response.
    • For example: In “The Zero Meter Diving Team,” Shepard uses repeated images of fire (or radioactivity, or rivers, or dry mouths, or animals, etc.) to evoke a tone of…, and to suggest a character who…, and to support one theme that….
  6. Skip a few lines and start your outline.
    • You should have at least five main sections:
      • Introduction
        • including your thesis, which identifies one pattern of images and at least three effects (tone, character, conflict or theme, etc.)
      • Body paragraph one
        • specific imagery and effect on tone, for example

        Body paragraph two

        • specific imagery and effect on character

        Body paragraph three

        • specific imagery and effect on theme
      • Conclusion
    • In the outline, represent each body paragraph with a claim in the form of a topic sentence.
    • In the outline, make note of the evidence from the story that you would use to support your claims. Cite at least one direct quotation from the story in each body paragraph. Make sure to write this and cite this accurately.
  7. Write an MLA formatted Work Cited entry for the story.
  8. Post your thesis statement and outline

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