A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic. Learning to write good paragraphs will help you as a writer stay on track during your drafting and revision stages. You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas arent presented in an organized fashion, you will lose your readers (and fail to achieve your goals in writing).
The Basic Rule: Keep OneIdea to One Paragraph The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph. You can have one idea and several bits of supporting evidence within a single paragraph. You can also have several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic of the paragraph. If the single points start to get long, then perhaps elaborating on each of them and placing them in their own paragraphs is the route to go.
Paragraph unity is perhaps the most important principle for good paragraphs. A reader quickly loses direction and ends up frustrated when confronted with paragraphs having multiple aims. A unified paragraph leaves a reader feeling secure that the writer is in control of her argument and able to lead the reader toward a clear and satisfying conclusion.
Revising for unity: supporting sentences Consider the following poorly unified paragraph: Horror films are most popular with teens. When a new horror film comes out, the theater seats are filled with teens. Adults dont seem to be interested in two hours of edge-of-your-seat fear and anxiety, but teens sure are. I think the popularity of these films with teens is due to teenagers desires to test their limits in the real world, to see how far they can go before they get scared and prefer the safety of home, and mom and dad. Horror films allow teens to test their limits in the safety of the movie theater, where they can put themselves in the position of the teenagers in the film without any real danger to themselves. Last week, I went to see the sci-fi/horror film Alien, and got so scared anticipating the aliens attack on the crew that I had to leave the theater. My friends didnt seem as scared, so I felt kind of stupid, but for me, that film was a bit more horrifying than I could take. Children obviously would be too scared at horror films; everything would seem too real, too possible, so that small children could end up with horrifying
The paragraph starts out pretty well. The controlling idea appears in the first sentence, and the sentences that follow develop the controlling idea in greater detail until the sentence that begins "Last week, I went to see the sci-fi/horror film Alien. . . " This sentence begins a discussion of degrees of fear that teens feel at horror films, not why horror films are most popular with teens, which is the controlling idea of the paragraph. Given this controlling idea, the author is limited to a discussion of why horror films would be more interesting to teens than to others. To make the paragraph unified, the author would need to rewrite this sentence so that it more directly supports the main idea or remove the sentence altogether.
A good paragraph has oneness of aim in all of its parts. Take a look atthe revision of the previous paragraph: Horror films are most popular with teens. When a new horror film comes out, the theater seats are filled with teens. These films are far too scary for young children who have a tough time separating fiction and reality, and adults dont seem to be interested in two hours of edge-of-your-seat fear and anxiety, but teens sure are. I thinkThe popularity of these films with teens is due to teenagers desires to test their limits in the real world, to see how far they can go before they get scared and prefer the safety of home, and mom and dad. Horror films allow teens to test their limits in the safety of the movie theater, where they can put themselves in the position of the teenagers in the film without any real danger to themselves. Horror films, with a few exceptions, are just right for teens.
Coherence is the trait that makes the paragrapheasily understandable to a reader. You can helpcreate coherence in your paragraphs by creatinglogical bridges and verbal bridges. It is veryimportant to arrange and link the sentencesbetween the paragraphs to be able to make thereaders follow the thought or the idea that wantto be implied.
Logical bridges The same idea of a topic is carried over from sentence to sentence. Successive sentences can be constructed in parallel formVerbal bridges Key words can be repeated in several sentences Synonymous words can be repeated in several sentences Pronouns can refer to nouns in previous sentences Transition words can be used to link ideas from different sentences
There are several logical orders inwhich coherence can be established. Chronological order is done in such ways like narrating experiences, summarizing the steps in the process and explaining events and movements. Spatial order can be established through the arrangement of visual details in some consistent sequences such as from left to right, east to west, near or distant and vice versa.
Inductive order is done by starting the statement with more particular detail going to and supporting the general statement. Deductive order is done by establishing a general statement moving to the more particular details that explain the general statement itself.
Coherence can also be establishedthrough the use of some specialdevices. Transitional words and phrases serve as indicators of the different relationships that need to be connected to be able to establish coherence in the paragraph. Reference of pronoun is a device used to avoid needles repetition in the paragraph.
Repetition of keywords is used in such a way that the keywords that are related to the central idea in order to establish coherence. Parallel structure is used to call attention to similar idea in the paragraph.
Emphasis is the principle of the paragraph composition in which the important ideas are made to stand. In here it is very important that the main points of the writer should be evident inside the paragraph. means that the idea should be made to stand from the rest of the elements inside the paragraph. In establishing emphasis, the main idea of what the author or the writer wants to say should show to have more importance.
Having an emphasis can beachieved by using somedevices: Emphasis by proportion talks about that the subordinate ideas should be given less substance while ideas which have greater importance should be given more substance. In the emphasis by pause, the emphasis is established by making chapter divisions, paragraph breaks as well as mark of punctuation.
The emphasis by position elaborates that the beginning and end of the paragraph are considered as crucial points where emphasis should be placed, emphasis are usually positioned in these places.
The Importance of TopicSentence In establishing unity, coherence, or emphasis, it is important to determine where to put the topic sentence inside the paragraph. Topic sentence is greatly considered in the paragraph construction. It is used to guide the specific focus of the paragraph’s composition as well as in cutting out some details within. Furthermore, the topic sentence tells the readers about the things to come up or the things that will follow after.