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Writing a Good Paragraph

A 'how to' guide for beginners and how to avoid common mistakes

Josie Hallinan

on 2 June 2014

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Transcript of Writing a Good Paragraph

- Before you begin, try to think of as many ideas as possible.

- Consider evidence that would support each explanation/idea

- Highlight your best ideas (2-3)
1.Topic Sentence

2.Supporting Sentences


Elements of a Paragraph
Topic Sentence
The topic sentence is the main idea, your attitude/opinion or evaluation.

Mistake 1
: Having no topic sentence
bad both for the writer and the reader.
the reader has to read the entire paragraph to get to the point.
causes the writer to lose control over the writing, which can make the paragraph seem pointless.
Supporting Sentences
These are arguments to support the topic sentence. Select your best reasons from your brainstorming. You should have 3-5 reasons here.
Each supporting sentence needs to be followed by a piece of evidence or explanation that tells the reader why this proves the topic sentence to be true.
An Easy "How to" Guide
Writing a Good Paragraph
Points to note...
Topic Sentence
is the first sentence in the paragraph.
states the main idea or main point of the paragraph.
What are you trying to prove?
All the other sentences in a paragraph explain the topic sentence.
No Topic
Try to write a topic sentence for this paragraph.
Points to note...
Supporting Sentences
should provide specific reasons, examples, and details
use transition words (first, second, furthermore, in addition, therefore) to connect the ideas in the paragraph together.

means that all the sentences refer to the main idea, or the topic sentence.
Concluding Statement
Here you finish by summing up your main point (in different words) and try to get the reader to agree with your argument (idea).
Points to note...
Include specific details or examples (names, dates, key terms, events, facts, quotes) to illustrate the point.
For investigation: Take evidence from at least two different sources
Development of ideas
Final Rules to Note
In formal writing do not use (I, We, Us, You). Only use third person.
Unless the task specifically asks for your opinion, don't say, "I think...."
No contractions (don't, can't, shouldn't, would've, etc)
Formal means no slang (e.g. gonna, wanna, cool, awesome)
Mistake 5
: Lack of development (explanation) of the ideas

We generally believe that people easily understand us when we write. Unfortunately, our use of language may not be perfect. If we want our ideas to be understood, we need to explain them and give specific examples of each.
Points to Note...
It points out the significance of the overall idea of the paragraph.
Why does this matter?
Can also serve as transition to next paragraph.
I hate lie. I always try not to tell lies and I want that from my friends, too. I think it is the most important behavior. I can believe everything my friends say. In addition, a good friend must say his ideas to me firstly. I mean, he shouldn't talk about me with other people. Especially about the bad thing, he doesn't have to talk because it might be wrong. Secondly, a good friend must help me. He must do his best. He should ask help from me too. If we solve problems together, our friendship will be better and it will become stronger. Thirdly, the talking time is important. I can talk with my friends for a long time, and during that time I must be happy. That's why we should like the same things. In conclusion, trust is the basics of a friendship.
I live in a flat with my family. We have two bedrooms and a living room. We have a garden and we have some flowers there. In weekdays I arrive home at five o'clock and I have lunch. Then I do my homework and go to bed. I had a computer but now it doesn't work. I have a brother and a sister and I think I am very lucky to live with them. Sometimes our relatives visit us. Our flat becomes very crowded sometimes but I like it.
1. What is the main idea (topic)?
2. What 3 sentences break unity?
means that the supporting sentences should be
in a
manner and should follow a
definite plan
of development.

Lack of coherence is
Mistake 4
I live in a house in Izmit. It isn't old or modern. It's a normal Turkish house. We can say it is near the sea. It takes about 10 minutes to go to the sea side on foot. We have one bedroom, one living room. We also have two other rooms, too. We use them as a dining room. Naturally, we have a kitchen, a bathroom, and a toilet. I live with my parents. And our house has a little garden; my parents spend their time there to grow vegetables and fruit.
1. What is the order of ideas?
2. What sentence breaks coherence?
2a. Can this sentence be moved to regain coherence?
Faulty Start
Mistake 2
: Bore your reader to death

You can start with:
1. a nonsense sentence:
e.g. I want to talk about.....

2. a cliché:
e.g. X plays a great role in our lives.
X is a very important issue in today's world.

I want to talk about friendship. Friends can change your life. So, you must know who is a real friend. Firstly, your friend must understand you and of course, you must understand her, too. I think, another important point in a friendship is confidence. You mustn't tell lies to each other. In addition, you must say everything about yourself. I think these are important for a friendship. If you have a friend like this, you don't break up with her because a real friend is not found easily.
Faulty Start
If the first sentence is removed, does the paragraph still have a topic sentence?
Lack of Development
First of all, a friend mustn't tell lie. He must always tell me the truth and he must be honest because if there is honesty between two friends, their relationship will last until death. In addition to honesty, helping or being near a friend on a bad day is very important. Another point to consider is that he must criticize me if I make a mistake.
Undeveloped ideas
If we list the ideas, here is what we get:
A friend must:
not tell a lie
be there for him on a bad day
criticize when necessary

The list and the paragraph are the same length because the ideas in the paragraph are listed without explanation. This means, the ideas are not developed. It also lacks a topic sentence.

Mistake 3
: No unity
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