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How to Write a Strong Paragraph
Transcript of How to Write a Strong Paragraph
Are groups of related sentences that focus on one idea or argument
Act as the building-blocks of your essay
Help your reader follow your argument and understand your points What Makes a Good Paragraph? thoughts proceed logically from one sentence to the next all sentences relate to the main idea contains enough information to convey the idea of the paragraph in a reasonably thorough way The Anatomy of
a Paragraph Topic Sentence Support Conclusion Methods for Developing Coherence: Maintaining Unity Within your Paragraph: Methods for Developing your Topic: Topic sentences act as a one-line summary of your paragraph. In order to write a strong topic sentence, ask yourself:
What is the main point of my paragraph?
How does this paragraph relate to my overall thesis/argument? Topic sentences should:
move your argument forward, not simply repeat the previous topic sentence
be the most general sentence in the paragraph, but not too general, your paragraph should only focus on one main point Can you spot the topic sentence? Clouds are white. People love to watch clouds,
but they also hate when it rains. The shape of clouds are determined
by various factors. Supporting sentences explain the idea expressed
in the topic sentence. Since your topic sentence is a general statement, it often leaves your reader wondering or questioning. The supporting sentences that follow give answers, evidence, or explanation to prove and develop the idea in your topic sentence. Supporting sentences give details, opinions, facts, and description and make up the bulk of your paragraph. A concluding sentence summarizes the main point of
your paragraph, restating your topic sentence. Unlike a
topic sentence, however, the concluding sentence signals
that you've reached the end of your paragraph and leaves
the reader with a final impression of the paragraph's
main point. It must also transition into the next topic. If your topic sentence relates to cloud shape,
what could your supporting sentences look like? Scientists have found that air quality and
wind currents have the biggest impact on
cloud shape. Clouds can be flat, thick, thin, dense, or layered depending on the direction of the wind currents and the temperature of the air surrounding them. The shape of clouds are determined by various factors. Scientists have found that air quality and wind currents have the biggest impact on cloud shape. Clouds can be flat, thick, thin, dense, or layered depending on the direction of wind currents and the temperature of the air surrounding them. Based on the topic sentence and supporting sentences we have so far, how might you conclude the paragraph below? Chronology - give the important description/details of the paragraph in the order they occurred
Spatial order - when writing a descriptive paragraph, consider giving details in the order that you see them
Order of importance - when giving analysis or evidence within a paragraph, list your most important point first
General to specific or vice versa
Problem to solution
Transitions - use connecting, "signpost," words and phrases to carry coherence from one sentence to the next. compare and contrast
use examples and illustrations
evaluate and examine
cite data and statistics
give an anecdote
define terms Since you only have one main idea to discuss in your paragraph, you have plenty of space to develop it. Make sure you thoroughly support and elaborate on your topic sentence before moving on to a new paragraph. After establishing a good flow between your sentences, you must also check to make sure that the ideas/content within those sentences are unified, meaning that they must all relate to your topic sentence. A paragraph is not just a collection of random sentences. All your sentences must flow together in an organized and logical fashion; they must be coherent. Can you tell which sentence in this paragraph breaks its unity? "Later in the dusky streets I walked among the Navajo camps, past the doorways of the town, from which came the good smells of cooking, the festive sounds of music, laughter, and talk. The campfires rippled in the crisp wind that arose with evening and set a soft yellow glow on the ground, low on the adobe walls. A natural building material used for several thousand years, adobe is composed of sand and straw, which is shaped into bricks on wooden frames and dried in the sun. Mutton sizzled and smoked above the fires; fat dripped into the flames; there were great black pots of strong coffee and buckets full of fried bread; dogs crouched on the rim of the light, the many circles of light; and old men sat hunched in their blankets on the ground, in the cold shadows, smoking. . . . Long into the night the fires cast a glare over the town, and I could hear the singing, until it seemed that one by one the voices fell away, and one remained, and then there was none. On the very edge of sleep I heard coyotes in the hills."
* excerpt adapted from: The Names: A Memoir by N. Scott Momaday check to ensure that your supporting sentences build on, clarify, illustrate or explain your paragraph's main idea, eliminate any sentences that stray from the goal of your topic sentence
resist the urge to introduce new information or points, these should follow in the form of a new paragraph
make sure that your topic sentence is not overly broad, so you can focus on just one, unified point in your paragraph * note: much of you strategy for how you will develop your paragraph depends on what type of paper you are writing. Ask yourself: Am I writing a descriptive, illustrative, analytical, scientific, argumentative, creative, or personal essay before you begin writing to determine how to go about building your paragraphs? Sources Used: Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook, Seventh Edition.
Nordquist, Richard. "Develop Effective Paragraphs," About.com. http://grammar.about.com/od/developingessays/u/paressay07.htm#s1
Walters, F. Scott. "Basic Paragraph Structure," TOEFL-Prep Practice Writing Site. http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/fwalters/para.html In conclusion, a strong paragraph contains:
a focused, clear topic sentence
enough relevant supporting sentences to thoroughly prove, discuss or illustrate the claim in the topic sentence
a concluding sentence that restates the main point and signals the closing of that specific idea