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PARAGRAPH WRITING

“Writing an effective paragraph involves adopting a careful writing plan that ensures
proper length, unity, coherence, and logical development of ideas.”

A paragraph can be defined as a distinct section of a piece of writing. It consists of


several related sentences and deals with one controlling idea. This controlling idea is
called the topic or the theme of the paragraph. All sentences individually have a distinct
role in the development of that idea and in the growth of a paragraph. The main function
of a paragraph is to develop, support, exemplify or explain this idea. Paragraphs are used
to separate main ideas. A new paragraph signals to the reader that a new idea is about to
be discussed. The gap/break between paragraphs gives the reader time to take in each
idea.

Essentials of Paragraph Writing


 Presentation of single idea.
 A sequence of well-connected sentences
 Thematic unit with in the paragraph
 Conciseness and exactness

What to avoid
 Avoid ambiguous expressions
 Avoid verbose style or the use of high sounding words
 Avoid the mixture of ideas.
 Avoid repetition as it leads to boredom.
 Unnecessary proverbs, idioms and figures of speech should not be used.

How is a paragraph structured


 Topic Sentence
 Supporting Sentences
 Concluding Sentence

How to organize a paragraph


There are different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will
depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Some ways are given over here,
 Narration
 Description
 Process
 Classification
 Illustration

Five step process to paragraph development

1) Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence


 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.
2) Explain the controlling idea
 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.

3) Give an example
 Paragraph development progresses with the expression of some type of support or
evidence for the idea and the explanation that come before it. The example serves
as a sign or representation of the relationship established in the idea and
explanation portions of the paragraph.
4) Explain the examples
 The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example
and its relevance to the topic sentence and rationale that were stated at the
beginning of the paragraph. This explanation shows readers why you choose to
use this/ or these particular examples as evidence to support the major claim, or
focus, in your paragraph.
5) Complete the paragraph’s idea or transition into the next paragraph
 The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of
the paragraph and reminding the reader of the relevance of the information in this
paragraph to the main or controlling idea of the paper. At this point, you can
remind your reader about the relevance of the information that you just discussed
in the paragraph.

Principles of writing a good paragraph

It is essential to develop the ability to write effective paragraphs as all longer pieces of
technical composition contain a series of related paragraphs. In longer pieces of writing
such as reports and proposals, paragraphs help to develop the core idea of the document.
Infact, writing any technical message involves writing paragraphs. As the writing needs
to be purposeful, precise, and result-oriented, it is important to compose paragraphs that
clear, concise, and result-oriented. In order to write an effective paragraph, a careful
writing plan should be adopted to ensure proper length, unity, coherence, logical
development and organization of ideas.

Proper Length
There is no definite rule about the length of paragraphs. The length of a paragraph may
vary according to the nature and type of the document. A paragraph may consist of one or
two sentences, or may include more than ten sentences. Paragraphs of various lengths
may be used as per the needs of the writing assignment. Lengths of the paragraph may be
adjusted according to the readers, the subject matter, and to the demands of variety and
emphasis.
Unity
Unity is the principle of oneness. Unity in communication means that the components, as
well as the whole, deal with one main idea, thought, or thesis. Any writing, which does
not have unity, distracts the reader and ceases to be purposeful. An important way of
ensuring unity is to make sure that the composition is about a single theme. This enables
the writer to examine an aspect of a topic in some detail. Infact, focusing on a single
aspect of the topic helps the writer unfolds the theme logically. Thus, any effective and
purposeful composition should have one controlling idea or theme.

Topic Sentence
The ‘main idea’ or the ‘theme’ of a paragraph is sometimes expressed by one sentence
called a ‘topic sentence’. The topic sentence may be placed either in the beginning or at
the end of a paragraph, depending on the logical organization of the paragraph. As the
topic sentence plays a significant role in paragraph structure, it is advisable that it is
phrased with utmost care and includes all the relevant information in it. The topic
sentence should introduce the paragraph and give the reader a clear idea about the content
of the paragraph. The topic sentence should summarise the paragraph on the need and
scope of the paragraph. In order to write an appropriate topic sentence the writer should
concentrate on the theme of the paragraph.

Coherence
The word ‘coherence’ means ‘consistency’ especially of speech, thought, ideas and
reasoning which makes the expression clear and easy to understand. Coherence shows the
logical relationship between the elements and the construction. Unity is concerned with
singleness, coherence is concerned with relatedness; this is how the sentences in a good
paragraph are connected. In cohesive paragraphs ideas are linked, and one idea logically
leads to the next. As one word in a sentence naturally leads to another, one sentence in a
paragraph leads to another. In order to achieve coherence in a paragraph, you need to use
appropriate cohesive devices that may include
 Pronouns: A pronoun is used as a substitute for a noun and this always serves as
a reminder of the noun for the continuity of thought. You may use
common pronouns such as they, we, it or demonstrative pronouns such
as this, that, these and those in order to achieve coherence in a
paragraph. However, pronouns should be used carefully. It should,
however, be noted that the demonstrative pronouns usually need a
noun with them, for example, this type of computer, these computers.
 Repetition: The repetition of some key words or phrases in the paragraph serves
not only to make the paragraph coherent but also to emphasize the
author’s point of view.

 Synonyms: Synonyms are the substitutes for words already used. This device is
useful because it helps the writer to avoid excessive repetition.
 Connectives: These are words or phrases which usually occur at the beginning of
a sentence to show the relationship between the new sentence and
the preceding sentence. Some of these connectives are ‘and’, ‘but’,
‘or’, ‘therefore’, ‘next’, and ‘further’.
Development of a paragraph

A paragraph should be developed in a logical manner. It should be organized in such a


way that one sentence leads on naturally to the next. The basic patterns of logically
organizing information in a paragraph include

Inductive Order
This is an order in which the author moves from particular statements to the general
statement. The author gives details, arguments or illustrations, which lead finally to the
conclusion. In this order, the topic sentence usually comes in the end of the paragraph.
For example: “Ram dies, Mohan dies, they are human beings.
Hence, we can say that man is mortal.”

Deductive Order
It is the most popular order used by the writers. It states an idea which later illustrates.
The movement is from the general statement to particular details. In other words, the
author tries to deduce his conclusions logically from the general statement made in the
topic sentence. This gives the paragraph a direct, straightforward style.
For example: “Man is mortal. Since Ram and Mohan are men, they are mortal.”

Spatial Method
Spatial organization refers to the organization of the matter by place. It is the simplest
logical organization that technical writers may use to place the information. The writer
has to describe what he sees as it appears in space left to right, top to bottom, inside to
outside or clockwise. (When the matter refers to certain areas, an area-wise arrangement
of the matter must be preferred to present it systematically).

Linear Method
Linear logical order refers to a systematic order as a line. One idea logically leads to
another idea in a natural way. Unlike circular pattern, linear logical pattern involves
presenting ideas in a progressive way where sentences are connected to each other in a
logical way.

Chronological Method
It refers to the narration of events in the order in which they occur in time, beginning with
the first event, going on to the next, and so on. It is very easy to use chronological order
and one does not have to think about what will come next, because the order will be
obvious. Readers generally focus their attention on the first several points more than the
last few ideas. Therefore, they should be organized by importance.

Techniques for Paragraph Development

You can develop the central idea of your paragraph through various techniques. The five
most commonly used techniques are:
1. Illustration (Providing examples to explain the main idea)
2. Comparison and contrast (Bringing out similarities and differences to develop the
idea)
3. Cause and effect (Explaining the reasons for the end result)
4. Classification (Breaking the main idea into specific categories)
5. Problem and solution (Discussing the solutions to the problem posed)
Paragraph development is more than just a few sentences that occupy the same space in a
paper. It is an organic process that makes intricate links between various ideas. These
links, ultimately, create one single idea that runs throughout the paper. There are many
different components of the paragraph development model. All the paragraphs should
have one central idea, the idea should have a discussion of how it works, the explanation
should be shown in an example, the example should be explained, and the final idea
should be reiterated while preparing the reader for the development to come. Awareness
and utilization of all of the essential components and techniques help to make paragraph
more unified, more coherent, and most importantly, better developed.