- Slides: 24
The Parts of a Paragraph n Topic Sentence n The Body n The Closing
The Topic Sentence n The topic sentence tells your readers what your paragraph is about. An interesting subject + A specific feeling or feature about the subject = An effective topic sentence The average cost of a Hollywood film (interesting subject) runs between $30 and $50 million. (specific feature)
The Body n The body is the main part of the paragraph. This is where you place all of the information readers need to understand the subject. The salary of a top star such as Tom Hanks or Brad Pitt can add $20 million to the cost of a major film.
The Closing n 1. 2. 3. The closing sentence comes after all the details have been included in the body of the paragraph. It may: Remind readers of the subject Keep them thinking about it Link the paragraph to the next one if this is part of a longer composition Anyone who has bought a movie ticket recently knows that the consumer pays for these extravagant productions.
Criteria Purpose n Focus n Development n Organization n Coherence n Audience n Style/Mechanics n
Purpose n n n This has to do with how effective your paper is. Different kinds of writing may try to: persuade, amuse, inform, entertain, alarm, or inflame the reader. Purpose is one of the most important aspects of writing because different goals are accomplished in different ways. When you are given a writing assignment in a class, you are basically being given a purpose e. g. write an argument essay. You must understand the assignment.
Focus n n Do not get off the subject Do not bring in material that is irrelevant It is like focusing a camera: you want to get a picture of something in particular, with perhaps a little background or context, and you want the details to be sharp. How to help with focus: n Take notes n Outline
Example Focus Paragraphs When I first brought my cat home from the humane society she was a mangy, pitiful animal. It cost a lot to adopt her: forty dollars. And then I had to buy litter, a litter box, food, and dishes for her to eat out of. Two days after she came home with me she got taken to the pound by the animal warden. There's a leash law for cats in Texas. If they're not in your yard they have to be on a leash. Anyway, my cat is my best friend. I'm glad I got her. She sleeps under the covers with me when it's cold. Sometimes she meows a lot in the middle of the night and wakes me up, though.
Example Focus Paragraphs When I first brought my cat home from the Humane Society she was a mangy, pitiful animal. She was so thin that you could count her ribs just by looking at her. Apparently she was declawed by her previous owners, then abandoned or lost. Since she couldn't hunt, she nearly starved. Not only that, but she had an open wound on one hip. The vets at the Humane Society had drained it, but it was still scabby and without fur. She had a terrible cold, too. She was sneezing and sniffling and her meow was just a hoarse squeak. And she'd lost half her tail somewhere. Instead of tapering gracefully, it had a bony knob at the end. Although she was near death at first, with love and care she has come to be a beautiful cat.
Example Focus Sentences Unfocused: Too many people treat animals badly in experiments. Focused: The cosmetic industry often harms animals in unnecessary experiments designed to test their products. Unfocused: Grades are an unfair pain in the neck. Focused: Course grades based solely on one term paper don't accurately measure a student's knowledge on a subject. Unfocused: Getting the right job is important and can lead to rewarding experiences. Focused: Getting the right job can lead to an improved sense of selfesteem. Unfocused: The Fourth of July picnic was a big success. Focused: Everyone at the Fourth of July picnic ate well, enjoyed the swimming pool, and had a chance to chat with old friends.
Development n n n Focus on the why and how. Use support, provide examples, give evidence, back up your opinions, include specifics, etc. Having to develop your ideas (or, in the case of summary, someone else's) ensures that you think them through
Example Development Paragraphs It was the worst movie I've seen in a long time. It was really boring. The characters were undeveloped and the plot was one cliché after another. I should have just stayed home. I'm sorry I wasted six dollars on such a stupid film.
Example Development Paragraphs This movie is an insult to the intelligence of the audience. We are supposed to accept one improbability after another: that the hero, a private detective, is willing to take on the case out of the goodness of his heart; that the police are willing to freely share with him information on a case still under investigation; that the villain just happens to be the man who killed his parents when he was a boy. And of course the key witness turns out to be a beautiful, rich, and unattached blonde who is wildly attracted to the detective. The plot of the film was underdeveloped and the actors did not perform well. My favorite part of the movie was when the closing credits started and I knew then that I could finally go home.
Organization Similar to cooking or following a recipe n n n Your ideas MUST follow one another in a logical sequence so that the reader knows how to make sense of what comes next. Sometimes the reader will be able to predict what comes next. At other times, they may be led to wonder about something just in time to have it explained to them. This is structural organization.
Organization cont. n Transitions help the reader see the structural organization by using words and phrases to make connections between ideas. n Other tips for organization: n n n Have one main idea in each paragraph, and make sure that everything in that paragraph has to do with that main idea. When you start on a new idea, let the reader know by starting a new paragraph. Make sure that each of these main ideas has to do with thesis or topic of the essay as a whole.
Organization cont. Do not write in the same way that you think. How to organize your writing: n Outline n Write down each main point on an index card and shuffle them around until you find the logical order n Use a word-processor to cut and paste large chunks of text to get them in the right order
Coherence Your writing must make sense. (Don’t write like a person who “babbles incoherently”) n To be coherent, your writing must: n n n have enough supporting details be organized in a logical way use transitions well n Ask someone else who can be objective to read your writing, or get some distance from it yourself. n Other coherence problems: n n writing isn't consistently in the same tense writing changes from singular to plural
Example Coherence Paragraphs For me, the worst thing about waiting tables is the uniform. All the waitresses had to wear this ugly brown striped jumper. The shirts were polyester. Sometimes someone you know comes in. Now I have a job in an office.
Example Coherence Paragraphs For me, the worst thing about waiting tables was the uniform. At the last place I worked, all the waitresses had to wear an ugly brown striped jumper. Underneath it we had to wear an even uglier polyester shirt. Sometimes someone I knew would come in and I'd feel embarrassed by my outfit. Now I have a job in an office, where I can wear my own clothes.
Audience n n Influences every aspect of your writing How well you write depends on whether you communicate with the reader Different audiences need different things. n n n For example, you would describe yourself differently, for instance, in a letter to a pen-pal in a foreign country, in a job application, and in a classified personal ad in the newspaper. Audience concerns also include: the vocabulary you use whether you're writing for “regular” people or experts what assumptions you share with your readers what tone you use
Style/Mechanics Style means “how a piece of writing sounds. ” n Everyone has a style which develops along with their writing; groups of people also have styles common to the group. n n For instance, if you read all the articles in Time magazine, the style is similar even though the authors are different. (This also has to do with audience, not to mention editorial policy. ) Your style will NOT sound like a native writer who publishes an article on wikipedia.
Style/Mechanics cont. Mechanics include: n n n Grammar Punctuation Spelling Why are mechanics important? What would you think if your textbook was full of misspellings? What would you think if Mrs. Garrett constantly used poor grammar in her powerpoint presentations?
Prioritizing Criteria 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The first priority is Purpose because it's the driving force behind the others. Focus and Development are next because Focus has to do with choosing and staying on a subject and Development has to do with saying something meaningful about it. Organization and Coherence come next, because they help make that meaning more accessible to the reader. A sense of Audience, in the particular sense, helps fine-tune this some more. And finally, Style and Mechanics are the forms that put a polish on the content. It is important to remember that a weakness in any one area makes it hard to get all the others correct.