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Paragraph Skills

Paragraph Skills in Writing Skills

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Paragraph Skills

  1. 1. Umm-e-Rooman Yaqoob Roll # 3 B.S English (4th semester) Paragraph skills Paragraph: A paragraph is a group of connected sentences that develop a single point, argument or idea. It should have a topic sentence and other sentences that support that sentence. Paragraphs are the building blocks of most forms of formal writing. They hold the main ideas of an essay and connect the essay together. Paragraphs are comprised of sentences, but not random sentences. A paragraph is a group of sentences organized around a central topic. In fact, the cardinal rule of paragraph writing is to focus on one idea. A solidly written paragraph takes its readers on a clear path, without detours. Essential elements of writing a paragraph: There are four essential elements which are necessary for writing a paragraph:  Unity: Unity in a paragraph begins with the topic sentence. Every paragraph has one single, controlling idea that is expressed in its topic sentence, which is typically the first sentence of the paragraph. A paragraph is unified around this main idea, with the supporting sentences providing detail and discussion. In order to write a good topic sentence, think about your theme and all the points you want to make. Decide which point drives the rest, and then write it as your topic sentence.  Order: Order refers to the way you organize your supporting sentences. Whether you choose chronological order, order of importance, or another logical presentation of detail, a solid paragraph always has a definite organization. In a well -ordered paragraph, the reader follows along easily, aided by the pattern you’ve established. Order helps the reader grasp your meaning and avoid confusion.  Coherence: Coherence is the quality that makes your writing understandable. Sentences within a paragraph need to connect to each other and work together as a whole. One of the best ways to achieve coherency is to use transition words. These words create bridges from one sentence to the next. You can use transition words that show order (first, second, third); spatial relationships (above, below) or logic (furthermore, in addition, in fact). Also, in writing a paragraph, using a consistent verb tense and point of view are important ingredients for coherency.
  2. 2.  Completeness: Completeness means a paragraph is well-developed. If all sentences clearly and sufficiently support the main idea, then your paragraph is complete. If there are not enough sentences or enough information to prove your thesis, then the paragraph is incomplete. Usually three supporting sentences, in addition to a topic sentence and concluding sentence, are needed for a paragraph to be complete. The concluding sentence or last sentence of the paragraph should summarize your main idea by reinforcing your topic sentence. Organization of a paragraph: Each paragraph in a text contains a main idea which is related to the other major points presented in the text. Unity, or concentration on a single topic, is essential if a paragraph is to be effective. The main or controlling idea in a paragraph is generally contained in a topic statement, often at the beginning of a paragraph. Although this is the most typical paragraph pattern, topic statements may be placed in any position in a paragraph or in more than one sentence. The topic statement contributes to establishing a meaningful pattern to the various pieces of information conveyed within the paragraph. There are many different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Below are a few possibilities for organization, with links to brief examples:  Narration: Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish.  Description: Provide specific details about what something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic.  Process: Explain how something works, step by step. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third.  Classification: Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic.  Illustration: Give examples and explain how those examples prove your point. Structure of a paragraph: An appropriate paragraph consists of the following things :  Topic sentences:
  3. 3. A topic sentence states the main idea of a paragraph. It is the most general sentence of the paragraph. All the other sentences serve to explain, describe, extend, or support this main-idea sentence. A well-organized paragraph supports or develops a single controlling idea, which is expressed in a sentence called the topic sentence. A topi c sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay’s thesis statement; it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences; and it advises the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it. This is the main idea in the paragraph. It tells the reader what the paragraph is going to be about. It is usually the first sentence. A topic sentence is a sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph is going to be about. All other sentences in the paragraph should support that idea. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph, although it can appear in the middle or at the end of a paragraph. Every paragraph should have a topic sentence. The topic sentences of a paragraph that uses definition usually provides a general meaning of the term. The rest of the paragraph narrows the meaning of the term to the specific situation intended. To move from general to specific, form a literal definition to a situational meaning.  Controlling idea: Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the paragraph’s development. Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea. Here is the controlling idea for our “model paragraph,” expressed in a topic sentence. Paragraph development continues with an expression of the rationale or the explanation that the writer gives for how the reader should interpret the information presented in the idea statement or topic sentence of the paragraph. The writer explains his/her thinking about the main topic, idea, or focus of the paragraph. Here’s the sentence that would follow the controlling idea about slave spirituals.  Supporting sentences: The supporting sentences are the other sentences in the paragraph. These sentences either:  expand on the main point  define key terms  offer explanations
  4. 4.  give examples  give additional detail. Without strong and vivid supporting details, it hardly matters what a great topic sentence a writer has created for a paragraph. It’s the supporting details, in the form of facts, descriptions, and examples, that back up the claim made in that sentence. The supporting details are important enough that you could think of them as the real meat of any paragraph.  Connecting sentences: Many have been asking for help with punctuating between clauses and phrases withinsentences. One wants to know when one should use a comma and when one need a semicolon. Here are a few rules with examples :  Commas Rule: Use a comma between two independent clauses when conjunctions such as and, or, but, for, nor connect them. Example: I have painted the entire house, but she is still working on sanding the floors. Rule: If the clauses are short (your call), then leave out the comma. Example: I painted and he sanded. Rule: If you have only one clause (one subject and verb pair), you generally won’t need a commain front of the conjunction. Example: I have painted the house but still need to sand the floors. This sentence has two verbs but only one subject, so it has only one clause.  Semicolons So when does the semicolon get to have its time in the spotlight? Rule: Use the semicolon if you have two independent clauses you are connecting without a conjunction. Example: I have painted the house; I still need to sand the floors. Rule: Also, use the semicolon when you have commas for smaller separations, and you need the semicolon to show a bigger separation. Example: We had a reunion with family from Salt Lake City, Utah; Los Angeles, California; and Albany, New York.
  5. 5.  Concluding sentences: Concluding sentences link one paragraph to the next and provide another device for helping you ensure your text is cohesive. While not all paragraphs include a concluding sentence, you should always consider whether one is appropriate. The concluding sentence or last sentence of the paragraph should summarize your main idea by reinforcing your topic sentence. Concluding sentences have three crucial roles in paragraph writing. They draw together the information you have presented to elaborate your controlling idea by: •summarizing the points you have made. •repeating words or phrases (or synonyms for them) from the topic sentence. •using linking words that indicate that conclusions are being drawn, for example, therefore, thus, resulting. They often link the current paragraph to the following paragraph. They may anticipate the topic sentence of the next paragraph by: •introducing a word/phrase or new concept which will then be picked up in the topic sentence of the next paragraph. •using words or phrases that point ahead, for example, the following, another, other. They often qualify the information or perspectives developed in the elaboration. The y may qualify this information by: •using concessive conjunctions to foreground the importance of some perspectives and background others. •making comparisons and contrasts between perspectives. •using other language that clearly indicates the perspective they favour. It is important for students to know how to write a conclusion, whether to drive the final point home or to transition to the next point. Writing a conclusion clinches everything mentioned in a paragraph. A conclusion may restate the claim in the topic sentence, but now it has all the supporting details behind it. Whether the conclusion reinforces the topic or leads into the following topic, a paragraph’s concluding sentence plays an important role.  Transitional words:
  6. 6. Using transitional words between sentences builds the unity and coherence of paragraphs. Transitional words like next, similarly, or for instance make sentences flow together, showing how supporting details build on each other and relate to the topic. Creating this flow with transitional words builds the paragraph up to a strong concluding sentence. Unity and coherence makes the entire paragraph effective.  Selecting a title: Giving a proper title to a paragraph is very necessary to make a good paragraph. Without giving an appropriate title we can`t achieve our goal to write a good paragraph. Revising a paragraph:  Read the paragraph aloud to get a gist of what is trying to be communicated. Reading the paragraph aloud helps you hear errors that you may not catch when reading silently. It also helps you hear the rhythm of the paragraph.  Take sentences out of the paragraph that are not on the topic of that paragraph. Cross out any unnecessary words. This gives you a readable writing piece that flows, which will be much easier to edit.  Pay attention to capitalization and spelling. Now that the paragraph makes sense and flows well, make sure sentences begin with capital letters and all proper nouns are capitalized. Proper nouns fall into the categories of someone's name, holidays, names of places, months and weekdays and names of products and companies. During this time also check for spelling.  If the beginning of the sentence needs to be capitalized, write a capital letter at the beginning of the word. If a word needs to be spelled correctly, write the correct spelling either above or below the misspelled word.  Check the punctuation. Once the paragraph makes sense, capitali zation and spelling have been reviewed, check the punctuation. Make sure sentences are ending with the correct punctuation mark and commas are used correctly. Telling sentences end with a period, asking sentences end with a question mark and exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation point. If a sentence needs a punctuation mark, write it where the punctuation mark should be. For example, if a question mark is needed, write it at the end of the sentence.  Reread the paragraph again. After everything has been corrected, reading the paragraph aloud helps ensure that all errors have been corrected and that the paragraph reads smoothly.  Revising gives you the chance to preview your work on behalf of the eventual reader. Revision is much more than proofreading, though in the final editing stage it involves some checking of details.
  7. 7.  Good revision and editing can transform a mediocre first draft into an excellent final paper. It's more work, but leads to real satisfaction when you find you've said what you wanted. Start Large, End Small  Revision may mean changing the shape and reasoning in your paper. It often means adding or deleting sentences and paragraphs, shifting them around, and reshaping them as you go. Before dealing with details of style and language (editing), be sure you have presented ideas that are clear and forceful. Drafting: Drafting is the preliminary stage of a written work in which the author begins to develop a more cohesive product. A draft document is the product the writer creates in the initial stages of the writing process. In the drafting stage, the author:  develops a more cohesive text  organizes thoughts  explains examples/ideas  uncovers transitions  discovers a central argument/point  elaborates on key ideas In a book that became popular in the 1950s, The Elements of Style, famed authors Strunk and White describe the first draft as being a less edited version of the final draft. In their book, Strunk and White say, “the first principle of composition is to foresee or determine the shape of what is to come and pursue that shape.” This shape is the draft that eventually becomes the finished work. First draft: A first draft is just that -- a first try. If you are lucky, your first draft will capture the basic form and content needed to shape the final document. In many cases, however, your draft may be a loose collection of ideas -- a type of directed freewriting. Some first drafts need only fine tuning and editing, while others may have to be discarded. Techniques for writing a draft:
  8. 8. 1. Thesis statement: At the end of your introduction, write a one-sentence statement that is the basis for your entire paper. A good thesis statement lets the reader know what your paper will cover. 2. Topic sentences: Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that states the main idea of that paragraph. Just like the thesis statement, the topic sentence lets you know what the paragraph contains. 3. Supporting sentences: Provide enough supporting sentences for the topic sentence, using examples, explanations, facts, opinions, and quotes. Consider the expected text length and go into detail accordingly. 4. Conclusion: The ending (conclusion) should present summative remarks and repeat the text’s key idea or thesis in other words. Try to finish with a strong statement that will have your reader asking for more. Editing: Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible and film media used to convey information. The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organization, and many other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate and complete work. The editing process often begins with the author's idea for the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created. As such, editing can involve creative skills, human relations and a precise set of methods. Editing stage: The editing stage is when you check your paragraph for mistakes and correct them. Grammar and Spelling 1. Check your spelling. 2. Check your grammar. 3. Read your essay again. 4. Make sure each sentence has a subject. 5. See if your subjects and verbs agree with each other.
  9. 9. 6. Check the verb tenses of each sentence. 7. Make sure that each sentence makes sense. Style and Organization 1. Make sure your paragraph has a topic sentence. 2. Make sure your supporting sentences focus on the main idea. 3. Make sure you have a closing sentence. 4. Check that all your sentences focus on the main idea. 5. See if your paragraph is interesting. Proofreading: Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process, focusing on surface errors such as misspellings and mistakes in grammar and punctuation. You should proofread only after you have finished all of your other editing revisions. The proofreading process: One probably already use some of the strategies discussed below. Experiment with different tactics until one find a system that works well. The important thing is to make the process systematic and focused so that one catches as many errors as possible in the least amount of time.  Don’t rely entirely on spelling checkers. These can be useful tools but they are far from foolproof. Spell checkers have a limited dictionary, so some words that show up as misspelled may really just not be in their memory. In addition, spell checkers will not catch misspellings that form another valid word. For example, if you type “your” instead of “you’re,” “to” instead of “too,” or “there” instead of “their,” the spell checker won’t catch the erro r.  Grammar checkers can be even more problematic. These programs work with a limited number of rules, so they can’t identify every error and often make mistakes. They also fail to give thorough explanations to help you understand why a sentence should be revised. You may want to use a grammar checker to help you identify potential run-on sentences or too-frequent use of the passive voice, but you need to be able to evaluate the feedback it provides.  Proofread for only one kind of error at a time. If you try to identify and revise too many things at once, you risk losing focus, and your proofreading will be less effective. It’s easier to catch grammar errors if you aren’t checking punctuation and spelling at the same time. In addition, some of the techniques that work well for spotting one kind of mistake won’t catch others.  Read slow, and read every word. Try reading out loud, which forces you to say each word and also lets you hear how the words sound together. When you read silently or too quickly, you may skip over errors or make unconscious corrections.
  10. 10.  Separate the text into individual sentences. This is another technique to help you to read every sentence carefully. Simply press the return key after every period so that every line begins a new sentence. Then read each sentence separately, looking for grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors. If you’re working with a printed copy, try using an opaque object like a ru ler or a piece of paper to isolate the line you’re working on.  Circle every punctuation mark. This forces you to look at each one. As you circle, ask yourself if the punctuation is correct.  Read the paper backwards. This technique is helpful for checking spelling. Start with the last word on the last page and work your way back to the beginning, reading each word separately. Because content, punctuation, and grammar won’t make any sense, your focus will be entirely on the spelling of each word. You can also read backwards sentence by sentence to check grammar; this will help you avoid becoming distracted by content issues.  Proofreading is a learning process. You’re not just looking for errors that you recognize; you’re also learning to recognize and correct new errors. This is where handbooks and dictionaries come in. Keep the ones you find helpful close at hand as you proofread.  Ignorance may be bliss, but it won’t make you a better proofreader. You’ll often find things that don’t seem quite right to you, but you may not be quite sure what’s wrong either. A word looks like it might be misspelled, but the spell checker didn’t catch it. You think you need a comma between two words, but you’re not sure why. Should you use “that” instead of “which”? If you’re not sure about something, look it up.  The proofreading process becomes more efficient as you develop and practice a systematic strategy.You’ll learn to identify the specific areas of your own writing that need careful attention, and knowing that you have a sound method for finding errors will help you to focus more on developing your ideas while you are drafting the paper.