Jane Schaffer Writing Strategy
How to write an effective paragraph
How to write an effective paragraph
• Materials: 1 blue pen, 1 red pen, 1 green pen
• Blue is for topic sentences (TS) and concluding
sentences (CS)
• Red is for concrete details (CD)
• Green is for commentary (CM)
Step 1: Topic Sentence
• A topic sentence (TS) is the top
bun of a hamburger
• TS
– First sentence in the paragraph
– Shows the main idea
– Usually mildly controversial, something you must
prove
Example Topic Sentence (TS)
1. In the fairy tale Cinderella, the main
character feels mistreated.
Step 2: Concrete Details
• Concrete details (CD) are the meat of the
hamburger
• CDs come from the text
– Facts
– Quotes
– Examples
• CDs cannot be argued with. They are evidence
that support your point.
Example Concrete Detail (CD)
2. For example, Cinderella must do all the
cooking and cleaning for her family.
Step 3: Commentary (CM)
• Commentary (CM) are the extras on the
hamburger – cheese, lettuce, onion, etc. –
they make it delicious
• CMs are your
– Analysis
– Interpretation
– Insight into the text
Example Commentary Sentences (2 CM)
3. These keep her isolated and friendless.
4. The stepmother is thus able to give
Cinderella more work, which prevents her
from going to the ball.
Step 4: Concluding Sentence (CS)
• A concluding sentence (CS)
is the bottom bun of the
hamburger
• CS
– Wraps up the paragraph
– Rephrases the main idea
• It should not be identical to the TS
Example Concluding Sentence (CS)
5. Therefore Cinderella feels abused by the
very people who are supposed to love her.
So far… (you don’t have to write this)
In the fairy tale “Cinderella,” the main
character feels mistreated. For example,
Cinderella must do all of the cooking and
cleaning for her family. These chores keep her
isolated and friendless. The stepmother is thus
able to give Cinderella even more work, which
prevents her from going to the ball. Therefore,
Cinderella feels abused by the very people who
are supposed to love her.
TS, CD, CM, CS – Now what?
• CHUNKING
• A combination of CDs and CMs is called a
“chunk”
• For English papers and literary analysis (such
as this) you will mostly use a combination (or
ratio) of 1:2
• For every 1 CD you will have 2 CMs
1 Chunk = 1 CD + 2 CM
For example, Cinderella must do all of the
cooking and cleaning for her family. These
chores keep her isolated and friendless. The
stepmother is thus able to give Cinderella even
more work, which prevents her from going to
the ball.
• Ratio = 1:2
Step 5: Final Paragraph
• Next add your TS and CS
• The final paragraph looks like this…
In the fairy tale “Cinderella,” the main
character feels mistreated. For example, Cinderella
must do all of the cooking and cleaning for her
family. These chores keep her isolated and
friendless. The stepmother is thus able to give
Cinderella even more work, which prevents her
from going to the ball. Therefore, Cinderella feels
abused by the very people who are supposed to
love her.
Upside Down Pyramids
• Keep in mind while you are writing these
paragraphs that you are going to start with
general ideas and then getting more specific
TS
CD
CM
CM
Thesis Statements – Quick Overview
• You will need a thesis statement or claim, it is the
backbone of your paper and states your position
• What is a claim?
– It is a complete sentence with a subject and a commentary
– It is opinion-based and debatable
– It must take a position and be supportable (with
research/evidence)
– It states the topic of your paper
– It is specific
– It is usually the last sentence in your introduction
• Do not include information in your paper that does not
support your claim in some way
More Guidelines
• It must not be written in first person
• Every paragraph must be at least five sentences
long, however there can be more as long as the
same ratio of two CM's to every CD is kept
• Each section (TS, CD, CM, CS) is only one
sentence in length
• Do not use the word “you”
• Do not write in the past tense, only the present
Getting Started
Directions: We will practice writing a short essay in order to get the hang out this. This essay will
be about a story you all know and love, The Three Little Pigs
• Choosing a Topic
• Writing your Thesis
• 5 Paragraph Outline – Short
– Jane Schaffer Essay Format  guide