How do I write a good paragraph?

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Answered by: Kathryn, An Expert in the English Grammar Category
Writing a good paragraph is simple when you keep a few things in mind. First, you need to know what you want to write your paragraph about. The first line in a paragraph is called a topic sentence. The goal of the topic sentence is to tell the reader what is to come in the paragraph. You do not want to merely announce what is coming in the paragraph, but instead find a clever way of introducing the topic. This is probably the most difficult thing to do, and most writers sit and stare blankly at a screen for hours trying to come up with a compelling introductory sentence. The solution is to start writing!

You do not have to submit the first draft that you write. The writing process is recursive. That means that you will go back and edit whatever it was that you came up with on the first try. You just need to get something down on the page in order for there to be something to come back to!

The best way to ensure that you have enough to write about, and to make sure that you don’t get stuck with writer’s block, is to utilize prewriting strategies. There are many different prewriting strategies to choose from. You can free write; map, or cluster, your ideas; ask questions about your topic; or brainstorm with a friend. Prewriting before sitting down to write your paragraph is integral to the writing process because it eliminates a lot of wasted time.

The next step is to explain the topic sentence in detail. You will want to provide specific examples and details of your idea. Make sure to use proper citation methods if you are incorporating material from an outside source. There are many different ways to cite material that you incorporate into your work. There are in-text, or parenthetical, citations, reference page citations, and something called “tagging,” where you tell the reader where the information is coming from.

It is important to fill your paragraphs with a lot of specific details. Details excite the reader’s interest in a way that general statements do not. For example, if you are trying to tell a person about behaviors of animals in a zoo, it would be more compelling to draw out specific details about the eating habits of gorillas in juxtaposition to the eating habits of giraffes, than to merely say that different animals have different habits. Think about what interests you as a reader, and try to incorporate that material into your paragraphs.

Lastly, you will wrap up the paragraph, calling attention to what you wrote and prepping the reader for what comes in the following paragraph. Again, this “glue” sentence between paragraphs is difficult to write. Sometimes it is best to leave the last sentence, or transitional sentence, for the very end of the writing process so that you know what is coming next.

Remember, it is very rare to have a person write a paragraph perfectly the first time. Writing a good paragraph takes preparation beforehand and diligence in editing afterwards. Good luck!

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