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  Weekly Feature (October 17, 2006)

Writing Better Paragraphs


I have decided to write a few words on writing better paragraphs. There are many different kinds of paragraphs that you can write. Although they should have the basic parts- a title, a beginning a middle and an end, the type of paragraph you write will depend on your topic, purpose and audience.

The first of the three paragraphs below is a explanation, the second one is a summary paragraph and the third is a process paragraph. The final paragraph is an apology to Brad and everyone who eagerly waits for the weekly feature. An apology, like any paragraph can be written in many ways depending on your audience and your purpose. From much personal experience with giving apologies, explanation paragraphs are not always the best choice because they are loaded with excuses. I have chosen to apologize using a summary paragraph.

Parts of a Paragraph

Every paragraph you write for English or Science needs to have four fundamental parts. The first requirement is a title. The title for a paragraph should not be a complete sentence, and all the important words need to be capitalized. For example, a descriptive paragraph about an animal might simply be titled “Grizzly Bears of North America.”

Secondly, your paragraphs need a topic sentence that contains the main or controlling idea of the paragraph. Usually the topic sentence is the first one. The third element is the body of the paragraph. The sentences in the body must relate or support the main idea introduced in the topic sentence. For instance, if you are contrasting solids and liquids the supporting sentences will either point out a difference or give an example to show a difference between the two states of matter.

Finally, each paragraph ought to end with a concluding sentence that restates the main idea, preferably in different words from the topic sentence. Look at the final sentence to understand this point. Remember these four important criteria and you will have greater success in your writing.

Scientific Paragraphs

In science we need to use a variety of paragraph types to communicate our ideas effectively. Descriptive paragraphs are needed to accurately describe on object, phenomenon or place. The habitat of a cougar or the shape of an unusual fish would require a student to write a descriptive paragraph. If you want to tell someone how to do an experiment you would use a process paragraph. Often in science, we are asked to compare or contrast two seemingly unrelated or similar things.

For instance, birds and lizards share many common characteristics, but they are not always recognizable at first glance. A comparison paragraph can help someone see these similarities. After a scientist or student has done an experiment, the results or findings can be communicated in a summary paragraph. Each paragraph will have common characteristics, but they will also be unique in the types of transitional phrases they use, the topics they cover and the audience they are written for.

Setting goals for your Writing

We all have things we can improve upon in our writing, and setting goals before we write can help us improve in these areas. The goal or goals you choose will be specific for you. The important point to remember is to choose goals that are not too large or poorly defined. “I want my paragraph to be better than the last one,” is an inappropriate goal. There may be a lot of things that could be better. Choose one, maybe two areas to focus your energies.

For instance," My vocabulary is limited, so I want to use more synonyms in my writing” or “I often forget my articles in front of nouns, so I will make sure I use ‘the’ and ’a’ more effectively” or “I write good simple sentences. I will combine some sentences to get more sentence variety” or “ I tend to have a lot of spelling mistakes, so I will use a dictionary to check my words before I hand in my paragraph” or “ My teacher says I use some transitions inappropriately, so I will be more careful when I use them” or “Rick thinks my sentences are too long and awkward, so I will use simpler sentences to get my idea across”

After you set your goal, free-write on the topic keeping your goal in mind. Then look for evidence or examples that show that you met your goal. If you or a friend cannot find and identify these examples then you have not achieved the goal. As you write more and more, you will notice that your goals will change.

My Apology (Summary Paragraph) TITLE

I feel very badly that I am always late with my weekly feature. TOPIC SENTENCE Thankfully, Brad spends a great deal of time keeping this website current and he gives me ample warning when it is my turn to submit something. SUPPORTING DETAIL All the other staff manage to get their feature in on time, and there is no reason why I cannot do the same. SUPPORTING DETAIL Further, many students enjoy reading this feature, for it is often interesting and informative. SUPPORTING DETAIL When I am late there is a risk that students will be discouraged and never visit the weekly feature again. EXAMPLE 1 Last but not least, I must apologize to myself, because tardiness with my weekly feature can lead to tardiness in other parts of my life. For example, I may be late with the mortgage and lose my house, or I may be late crossing the street and be hit by a bus. EXAMPLE 2 Lateness is inexcusable and I sincerely beg for your forgiveness. CONCLUDING SENTENCE



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