"What are you doing?" William Shatner asks a strange woman in a shoe store.

"Comparing different shoes for the best buy," she responds, a bit confused.

Shatner looks thunderstruck.  "Comparing for the best buy," he muses.  "Brilliant!"

What's amusing about this commercial for Expedia.com, an online travel site where you can compare prices of hotels, airfare, and car rentals, is that everyone knows you must compare to get the best buy for your money.     

As consumers, we all know something about the things or services we buy.  Even if you are just getting out on your own, with little life experience, you've still bought stuff and compared the results.  That's why I think you can do a product review in this first essay.  I want everything you say to come from your own knowledge and experience or that of friends or people you know.  The only research you can do is to look at the product itself, what I would call primary research. 

Your first job is to pick a topic -- a product to write about -- one that you know very well.  Also you must have tried other comparable topics.  If you like one brand and have never tried a different brand, how can you show that that first brand is best?  (Note:  movies and books don't work well for this.  Do yourself a favor and pick something else that is not a complicated artistic expression for this essay.  And when it comes right down to it, your choice of movies and books really depends on your taste, which is not effective support.  It may be the best for you, but that doesn't mean it's the best for me.)

Vacuum cleaners, paper towels, mascara, shovels, cars, candy bars, flash drives, underarm deodorant, vitamin E, coffee filters, blankets, air conditioners, ballpoint pens, cleansers, detergents, cheese, clothes, grills, three-ring binders, jewelry . . . all are possibilities.  On the other hand, you may want to write about something not so tangible:  health clubs, medical insurance, jobs search websites, classified ads, yoga classes, courier service, restaurants, self storage, weight loss plans, karate schools, talk shows, sports leagues, etc. 

Once you've picked a product, write a thesis statement.  It should be constructed something like this:  Product A is better than other products of its kind.  Then for support, you would go on to prove how it is better. 

An alternate approach to the thesis is Setting the record straight.  This would require a thesis statement like this:  Product A does not fulfill the promises of its ads.  Or Product B is not as good as you are led to believe.

 

 
  This page last updated by Connie Gulick, Tuesday, May 18, 2010.