Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Paragraph Construction

by CWK

Much credit to Mr. Strunk and Mr. White for helping me along in paragraph formation. What follows is my notes on their wisdom.

1. Organize your ideas into paragraphs.

Each paragraph should represent one, and only one, main idea. Start your paper with an opening paragraph which contains an introduction and your thesis statement. End your paper with a concluding paragraph which wraps things up, summarizes, and restates your thesis.

2. Topic Sentences

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence; end each paragraph with a concluding sentence referring back to, and/or summarizing, the topic of the paragraph.

ex. I became a fan of soccer last year through a series of coincidences. I went to England for a week last summer. There, I saw devotion to a sport that exceeded all my experience... So, all these random events conspired to make me an avid soccer fan.

Strunk: “Again, the object is to aid the reader. The practice here recommended enables him to discover the purpose of each paragraph as he begins to read it, and to retain the purpose in mind as he ends it. For this reason, the most generally useful kind of paragraph, particularly in exposition and argument, is that in which the topic sentence comes at or near the beginning; the succeeding sentences explain or establish or develop the statement made in the topic sentence; and the final sentence either emphasizes the thought of the topic sentence or states some important consequence.”

3. Make each speech a single paragraph – no matter how short the speech.

                 Tom took Karen’s hand, knelt, and said softly, “Will you marry me?”
                “Yes,” Karen replied.
                Tom looked up and struggled to find more words, but he could only smile. He leapt into the air, nearly dropped the ring into the lake.

4. Avoid long paragraphs. Also, avoid overly short paragraphs.

Strunk, “Enormous blocks of material look formidable to the reader. He has a certain reluctance to tackle them; he can lose his way in them... But remember, too, that firing of many short paragraphs in quick succession can be distracting... Moderation and a sense of order should be the main considerations in paragraphing."

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