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There is a temptation to connect each sentence with “And then,” “then,” “and then.” That’s all right when Aunt Gloria is telling you how to make meatloaf, but it’s boring in an essay.
If you forget to turn on the monitor, the computer will start, but you won’t see anything on the screen.Well, perhaps so, but if your readers aren’t interested in your process, they might just put your essay aside and go watch television, and you don’t want that.Your beginning ought to involve readers in the human dimension that makes knowing your process important to them.How to Start Up Your E-Mail Client Nothing can be more frustrating than knowing that your best friend has just sent you some e-mail, but you don’t know how to get into the computer system at school to read your e-mail.It doesn’t do any good to know that there is help available online because you can’t even start the machine, and it’s embarrassing to ask lab assistants who are busy helping others with complex spreadsheet questions.You could write a great process essay describing what happens when Mother Nature decides it’s time for trees to lose their leaves in the fall.Something in the changing angle of sunlight tells these two rows of cells in the leaf’s stem to begin to dry up, and the chlorophyll begins to dry (allowing the leaf’s other colors — the red, the orange, the yellow of fall — to show through) and then the stem breaks at just that point (the same for every leaf) and the leaf falls off.We could read a good essay about how to wallpaper around a window or a bathroom vanity, but it would be much better to watch a videotape of the same process.There are some things that are much better seen than read.Don’t write about something that is too complicated. You don’t like being overwhelmed by directions, and you don’t want to overwhelm your reader.Don’t try to write a brief process essay about something that needs an instruction manual. Also, don’t write about something that needs to be accompanied by visual aids.