Why paragraphing? to coherently organize a group of sentences around a topic What a Paragraph Does in an Argument – presents a supporting point – connects the new point with the essay’s main argument – elaborates the point consistently – prepares the reader to move on to the next point PRESENT A POINT CONNECT ELABORATE MOVE ON Make a point using a topic sentence A topic sentence • acts like a thesis statement • speaks back to (and constitutes) a new main point of the argument • unifies the paragraph • substantiates or supports an essay’s thesis statement In some cases, it’s more effective to place another sentence before the topic sentence; for example, a sentence linking the current paragraph to the previous one, or one providing background information. In other cases, the introductory sentence and transition are not necessary because the topics of the previous and current paragraphs flow logically into one another. Connect to main argument with a transition A transition • emphasizes the relationships between ideas • helps the reader follow your train of thought • helps the reader see your connections that they might otherwise miss or misunderstand Readers generally try to understand your new direction (or if you are still elaborating a previous point) in the first few sentences in a paragraph. You may also want to signal towards the next point before you leave off the paragraph. Elaborate the point by using details Supporting details – – – – provide examples to explain the new point give evidence to persuade the reader draw on external sources to support your claim may include illustration, data, experience… Consider what kinds of materials are appropriate to and effective for the paragraph in light of the nature and purpose of the essay. What could be a good topic sentence of the following paragraph? . . . The advertisement appeals to women who do not necessarily feel as strongly that they should be less feminine to be equal to men. This is seen in the advertisement in the subtle use of earrings in the costuming of the woman and the pink lettering of certain words in the text. The earrings show that a woman can be as fit, as opinionated, as strong and as equal to any man as the woman in the ad is. Yet this woman can still have a feminine side and wear earrings which are somewhat symbolic of femininity. This idea is also seen through the use of the pink lettering for only some of the words, the most important words of the text. The central message of the woman’s body not being “dainty”, as well as the Nike slogan, is in pink text. This is also a great marketing technique because the audience sees that only these two phrases are in pink which triggers a connection between them. This therefore establishes a relationship between the woman’s thoughts as well as her physical appearance to the Nike Woman Company. Nike could have made an improvement to the ad by incorporating more of these subtle connections in order to appeal to a larger audience and larger base of consumers. What supporting details does this writer use? Coherence is essential in your elaboration • In a coherent paragraph, sentences relate more or less explicitly to the topic sentence/main idea • Words or phrases help reader connect new information with old information • There are no abrupt shifts or jumps Prepare to move on to your next point Leave a paragraph by helping the reader • understand the new point • make sense of the details • get ready or expect the next point You can wrap up a paragraph without explicitly repeating the topic sentence or its idea; use a key word or phrase from the topic sentence or state your new point if you haven’t. Other Tips and Tricks • • • • Focus on a single point Use parallel structures Be consistent in your point of view Use internal transitions and connections Focus Particularly useful to writers who have difficulty developing focused, unified paragraphs is the practice with topic sentences. Examine how focused the writer of the following paragraph is 1It is a fact that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. 2Statistics show that in states with capital punishment, murder rates are the same or almost the same as in states without capital punishment. 3It is also true that it is more expensive to put a person on death row than in life imprisonment because of the costs of maximum security.4Unfortunately, capital punishment has been used unjustly. 5Statistics show that every execution is of a man and that nine out of ten are black.6So prejudice shows right through. Stay focused 1It is a fact that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. 2Statistics show that in states with capital punishment, murder rates are the same or almost the same as in states without capital punishment. 3It is also true that it is more expensive to put a person on death row than in life imprisonment because of the costs of maximum security.4Unfortunately, capital punishment has been used unjustly. 5Statistics show that every execution is of a man and that nine out of ten are black.6So prejudice shows right through. Source http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ paragraphs.htm No sentence in this paragraph (to the left) is completely irrelevant to the general topic (capital punishment), but the specific focus of this paragraph shifts abruptly twice. The paragraph starts out with a clear claim in sentence 1: It is a fact that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. Sentence 2 provides evidence in support of the initial claim: Statistics show that in states with capital punishment, murder rates are the same or almost the same as in states without capital punishment. Sentence 3, however, shifts the focus from capital punishment as a deterrent to crime to the cost of incarceration: It is also true that it is more expensive to put a person on death row than in life imprisonment because of the costs of maximum security. Sentence 4 once again shifts the focus, this time to issues of justice: Unfortunately, capital punishment has been used unjustly. Sentences 5 and 6, Statistics show that every execution is of a man and that nine out of ten are black and So prejudice shows right through, follow from 4 if one believes that executing men and blacks is in fact evidence of injustice and prejudice. More importantly, however, we are now a long way off from the original claim, that capital punishment does not deter crime. The focus has shifted from deterrence to expense to fairness. Parallel structures • Parallel structures are created by constructing two or more phrases or sentences that have the same grammatical structure and use the same parts of speech. • Parallel structures lend sentences clarity and readability. In addition, repeating a pattern in a series of consecutive sentences helps your reader see the connections between ideas. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. - Martin Luther King (“I Have a Dream”) Consistency Consistency in point of view, (verb tense, and number) is a subtle but important aspect of coherence. If you shift from the more personal "you" to the impersonal “one,” from past to present tense, or from “a man” to “they,” for example, you make your paragraph less coherent. Such inconsistencies can also confuse your reader and make your argument more difficult to follow. Internal transitions Transitional expressions (e.g. for instance, in addition, in the first place, moreover, similarly, although, however, in contrast, next) emphasize the relationships between ideas, so they help readers follow your train of thought or see connections that they might otherwise miss or misunderstand. Especially useful are these words/phrases (e.g. accordingly, as a result, because, consequently, for this reason, hence, if, otherwise, since, so, then, therefore, thus) because they indicate logical transitions. Avoid weak transitions Empty phrases, such as Also, In addition, We should also note that, fail to explain the relationship between successive paragraphs weak transition: Another way to relate to X’s experience is . . . TRY strong transition: The literal life inside X symbolizes the spiritual and emotional rigor of the other Xes as well. – This transition indicates that the idea to follow (how X maintains spiritual and emotional vigor) will build on what came before it). What’s your plan for writing good paragraphs? Make a checklist 1. Have you – identified the main point and purpose of individual paragraphs you plan to write in your paper? – a list the relevant evidence, explanations, or details to support your point and assign these to appropriate paragraphs? 2. Compare the material for one paragraph with the material for another to make sure each is unique. 3. Write the sentences of each paragraph until you have a rough approximation of your vision for the whole paper. 4. Ask yourself: Does each paragraph make sense on its own? Does each paragraph support my effort to convince ?