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Writing papers in college requires that you come up with sophisticated, complex, and

even creative ways of structuring your ideas. Accordingly, there are no simple formulae
for writing. To start with, begin by learning to write a paragraph.
In an essay, there are 4 types of paragraph:
1. Introductory paragraph
2. Body paragraph
3. Transitional paragraph
4. Concluding paragraph

A group or specially and intentionally related sentences that revolve around a single idea


1. CONTROLLING IDEA- the expression of the main idea, topic, or focus
of the paragraph in a sentence.
The Topic Sentence:
Expresses the main idea of a paragraph.
Is usually the first sentence of a paragraph.
Contains the central idea.
Is also the most general sentence in a paragraph.
Example: There are three reasons why Canada is one of the best countries of the

2. EXPLANATION OF CONTROLLING IDEA- the writer's rationale into

his/her thinking about the main topic, idea, or focus of the paragraph
3. EXAMPLE - the example serves as a sign or representation of the
relationship established in the idea and explanation portions of the
4. EXPLANATION (of EXAMPLE) - the reasoning behind why you chose
to use this/or these particular examples as evidence to support the
major claim, focus, in your paragraph.
PARAGRAPH - Restatement of the main idea-summary of main ideas or
Example: As a result, Canada is a desirable place to live. For those reasons, Canada
attracts a lot of immigrants. Wouldnt you like to live there?


Length is not a factor in determining a paragraph. In fact, it is not the number of
sentences that construct a paragraph, but it is the unity and coherence of ideas among
those sentences that makes a paragraph a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of
writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be one sentence. As long as that
sentence expresses the paper's central idea, that sentence can serve the function of a
In general, in order for a paragraph to be effective, it must have three characteristics:
unity, development and coherence.
1. Unity:

All sentences in the paragraph explain, develop, and support a central idea
in some way.

To achieve unity, begin with a clear topic sentence. Once you know what
point you want to introduce in your topic sentence, you can create a
unified paragraph by making sure that all the rest of the sentences are
clearly related to the first one.

One way to ensure that your paragraphs have unity is to underline the
subject of each supporting sentence to see if it points back to the key
concepts in the topic sentence.

2. Development:

Being fully developed means that a paragraph doesnt leave any significant
questions in readers minds.

Developing it with:
* The right level of detail: Try using the 5Ws to imagine what questions an
informed reader might ask.
* The right kind of detail:
Depending on the demands of the assignment and the discipline you are
writing in. For example, if you are asked to write a personal essay, your
details might be examples of personal experiences. If you are asked to
write a history paper, the right kind of details might come from your
analysis of a historical text.
Another way to think about choosing the right kind of detail is in terms of
warm (those that appeal to emotions) or cool proofs (like logical arguments
and statistics that appeal to reason).

3. Coherence:

The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a

definite plan for development.

There are a number of ways to achieve coherence: through use of ordering







* An ording principle: comparison - contrast, cause - effect, ...

* Pronouns: Use pronouns to refer to nouns in previous sentences in the

paragraph, thus sticking the sentences together. For example, if you refer
to people in one sentence you can point back to that noun in the next






* Transitional words and phrases: providing bridges between sentences

within the paragraph and between paragraphs such as detail or example
(for example, that is, more specifically), logic (therefore, thus, in
conclusion), contrast (yet, nevertheless, on the other hand) or






* Repetition: Most developing writers are taught to avoid repetition, and

this is good advice to a point. However, judicious repetition of key words
and phrases and synonyms throughout a paper can provide your readers
with necessary signposts and strengthen the flow of the essay. For
example, suppose a key concept in a thesis statement was that of mythical
structures in literature. Throughout the essay, a writer might use a
number of synonyms, such as myth, mythical forms, configurations,
or patterns to refer to this concept.


In fact, a useful way to think about a paragraph is as a mini-essay, or an essay within
an essay, with its own mini-thesis (the topic sentence), middle or body (the supporting
details) and end or conclusion (the concluding sentence).
To understand how paragraphs help to develop a thesis, think of them as landmarks on
a map. With each paragraph, you describe where you are standing and point the
direction for your readers to make sure they complete the journey to your conclusion. A
vague signpost or a detour down a side trail could well have your readers lost and
wondering where you are taking them.


Begin by listening to your topic. If it is well-written, it will tell you which way to go with
your paper. Just as a paper relies on a thesis or claim to assert and shape its argument,
so do paragraphs require a topic sentence to assert and shape their main ideas. Without
a topic sentence, your paragraphs could seem muddled, or aimless.
When you've written a topic sentence, ask yourself the following questions:

Does the topic sentence declare an argument point? Because the reader generally

expects that each paragraph will explore one point in your argument, it's important that
your topic sentence isn't too ambitious. If your topic sentence points to two or three
ideas, consider developing more paragraphs.

Does the topic sentence further my argument? Give your topic sentences a "so

what?" test. If your topic sentence isn't interesting, your paragraph probably won't serve
to further the argument.

Is the topic sentence relevant to my thesis? It might seem so to you, but the

relevance may not be so clear to your reader.


Is there a clear relationship between this topic sentence and the paragraph that

came before? If you make a sudden turn in your reasoning, signify that turn to the
reader by using the proper transitional phrase - on the other hand, however, etc.

Does the topic sentence give the paragraph focus?

Where have I placed my topic sentence? Often a topic sentence comes at or near

the beginning of a paragraph. If your argument requires that you put it elsewhere, plan
accordingly. You can justify putting the topic sentence in the middle of the paragraph,
for example, if you have information that needs to precede it. You can also justify
putting the topic sentence at the end of the paragraph, if you want the reader to consider
your line of reasoning b efore you declare your main point. But the placement of the
sentence matters.


* When you write a paragraph, ask yourself these questions:
o Do I have enough evidence to support this paragraph's idea?
o Do I have too much evidence? (In other words, will the reader be lost in a morass of
details, unable to see the point I am making?)
o Does this evidence clearly support the assertion I am making in this paragraph, or
am I stretching it?
o If I am stretching it, what can I do to persuade the reader that this stretch is worth
o Am I repeating myself in this paragraph?
o Have I defined all of the paragraph's important terms?
o Can I say, in a nutshell, what the purpose of this paragraph is?
o Has the paragraph fulfilled that purpose?

* Methods of paragraph development:

- COMPARISONS in which one thing is shown to be like another.
Example: Skilled college students are like the unskilled students in their desire
for a diploma.
- CONTRASTS in which one things is shown to differ from another.
Example: Skilled students are different from unskilled students in that they use
a method to read a textbook.

Example: 75 percent of the students who do not attend class regularly receive
grades of C or worse.
Example: Figure 9-1 is one type of graph.
- QUOTATIONS from authorities
Example: Professor Smity admits, I tell students they dont need to attend my
class if they dont want to. I know, however, that if they dont come, they wont pass.
Example: The students took the exam from the professors hand, quickly looked
at the grade, gave a sigh or relief and began to smile.


* Make sure that the grammatical subject of your sentences reflects the real
subject of your paragraph.
Remember: the reader understands an idea's importance according to where you place
* Make sure that your grammatical subjects are consistent. How many
different subjects do you find? If you have too many different sentence subjects, your
paragraph will be hard to follow.
* Make sure that your sentences look backward as well as forward. Each
sentence should begin by linking itself firmly to the sentence that came before. If the
link between sentences does not seem firm, use an introductory clause or phrase to
connect one idea to the other.
* Follow the principle of moving from old to new. If you put the old information
at the beginning of the sentence, and the new information at the end, you accomplish

two things. First, you ensure that your reader is on solid ground: she moves from the
familiar to the unknown. Second, because we tend to give emphasis to what comes at the
end of a sentence, the reader rightfully perceives that the new information is more
important than the old.
* Use repetition to create a sense of unity.
* Use transition markers wisely. Sometimes you'll need to announce to your reader
some turn in your argument. Or you'll want to emphasize one of your points. Or you'll
want to make clear some relationship in time. In all these cases you'll want to use
transition markers.
Here are some examples:
o To show place - above, below, here, there, etc.
o To show time - after, before, currently, during, earlier, later, etc.
o To give an example - for example, for instance, etc.
o To show addition - additionally, also, and, furthermore, moreover, equally important,
o To show similarity - also, likewise, in the same way, similarly, etc.

To show an exception - but, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, on the

contrary, yet, etc.

o To show a sequence - first, second, third, next, then, etc.
o To emphasize - indeed, in fact, of course, etc.
o To show cause and effect - accordingly, consequently, therefore, thus, etc.
o To conclude or repeat - finally, in conclusion, on the whole, in the end, etc.


* Acknowledge your opponents:

When you are writing a paper about a matter that is controversial, you might
wish to summarize the point of view of your adversaries. Then state your own
position in opposition to theirs. In this way you place yourself clearly in the
ongoing conversation. Some imagining of other views, or of resistance to one's
own, occurs in most good essays. And instructors are glad to encounter
counterargument in student papers, even if they haven't specifically asked for it.

Counterargument in an essay has two stages: you turn against your argument to
challenge it and then you turn back to re-affirm it

You might resist your argument by pointing out:

- A problem with your demonstration, e.g., that a different conclusion could be
drawn from the same facts, a key assumption is unwarranted, a key term is used
unfairly, certain evidence is ignored or played down
- One or more disadvantages or practical drawbacks to what you propose
- An alternative explanation or proposal that makes more sense.
You introduce this turn against with a phrase like One might object here that... or
It might seem that... or It's true that... or Admittedly,... or Of course,... or with an
anticipated challenging question: But how...? or But why...? or But isn't this
just...? or But if this is so, what about...?

Your return to your own argument can be announced with a but, yet, however,
nevertheless or still

Counterargument can appear anywhere in the essay, but it most commonly

- As part of your introductionbefore you propose your thesiswhere the
existence of a different view is the motive for your essay, the reason it needs

- As a section or paragraph just after your introduction, in which you lay out the
expected reaction or standard position before turning away to develop your own
- As a quick move within a paragraph, where you imagine a counterargument not
to your main idea but to the sub-idea that the paragraph is arguing or is about to
- As a section or paragraph just before the conclusion of your essay, in which you
imagine what someone might object to what you have argued

* Writing humor to make your works more attractive:

Whether or not a writer is personally funny is not important. What is important is that
the writer can make the reader think that the characters and situations are funny.
Remember to paint that picture using all five senses. Add a metaphor or two, a few
similes, action verbs, and colorful adjectives:
1. Don't tell the reader that something is funny. Let the reader discover this for himself.
Do this by painting a picture with words that the reader can relate to with all five of his
sense. Create images using words that stir the reader's senses, evoking emotions in the
reader as well.
2. Use metaphors and similes that bring familiar images into your reader's mind. A
simile is a figure of speech in which the writer compares two unlike items, usually using
the word "like" or "as". Take Shakespeare's simile for example, "I am constant as the
northern star.
3. Blending description, metaphors, and similes with dialogue is another way for the
writer to expand his medium. Metaphors in a dialogue can add a humorous flavor of
their own to the story or character. Similes can be funny in their own right, and added to
a humorous situation can make it even funnier, such as, "I'm happy as a mosquito in a
nudist colony," creates a humorous image in the reader's mind.

4. Using action verbs, the writer can create a jovial image and elicit amusement from the
5. Colorful adjectives. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy to look up adjectives that
will spice up your writing. Use adjectives to describe all five senses as you paint a picture
with words.
6. Find new ways to say the same old thing. Was the woman large? Or does she look like
she's built for comfort rather than speed? Was the man skinny? Or did he have to run
around in the shower just to get wet?
7. Satire and irony add humor to the written story also.