Constructing an Essay Brick by Brick
After content, structure is the most important aspect of writing an essay. While content is a house's rooms and furniture, structure is the walls that define the rooms.
How a writer's thoughts are arranged can either support an argument or confuse a reader. The difference often comes down to an author's knowledge of how to write a paragraph to create structure and flow. Methods for writing an essay abound, but the most basic method is the five-paragraph essay, which involves an introduction, three paragraphs of supporting arguments, and a conclusion.
In most cases, a paper of this length just won't cut it, but remembering this formula can help writers establish the basic structure of their essay, which should include an introduction that states the main hypothesis, a body that supports this argument, and a conclusion that ties everything together.
Despite paragraphs being essential parts of any essay, it is often just assumed that students know how to write a paragraph. This isn't always the case. So for those of you who were never taught and those who are looking for a refresher, here's a thorough rundown of how to write a paragraph.
Writing a paragraph means grouping together sentences that focus on the same topic so the important points are easy to understand. For example, the body of an essay usually includes three or more supporting arguments that back up the main hypothesis; these arguments are each introduced in their own paragraphs, usually followed by evidence the researcher has gathered that supports each claim.
Separating each of these ideas in a quick essay outline before you start writing can often be helpful for organizing your thoughts and linking each paragraph in a cohesive way that supports your hypothesis.
Paragraphs are not only important for organizing topics and thoughts but are also important for creating readability and flow. Readers will often skip large blocks of writing, whether they appear in a blog post, article, or essay. It can also create confusion when there are no breaks between different ideas or when thoughts flow one into the next without any discernable pause. Knowing how to write a paragraph is essential for avoiding this.
How to Write a Paragraph
Think of writing a paragraph that is effective, concise, and clear in the same way as building a house that is efficient and functional. Just as each room should serve a clearly defined purpose, each paragraph should focus on a separate topic. The body of each paragraph should provide evidence validating this subtopic, with a concluding sentence that ties everything to the main argument of your essay. Repeat this for each supporting argument, and you will have mastered the concept of how to write a paragraph.
Habits to Avoid When Writing a Paragraph
1. Overusing transitions.
Besides keeping the information you provide in each paragraph of your essay concise, readability and flow must also be considered. This is where the appropriate use of transition words and sentences comes into play. Often, writers will overuse transition words like "however," "moreover," and "additionally," thinking these words are a great way to link ideas. The reality is that transition words and phrases should be used sparingly and only when actually necessary when writing a paragraph or an entire essay.
2. Repeating yourself.
Too much repetition of language can negatively affect the tone of your writing, especially when an essay is academic in nature and presents a firm stance on a subject. To avoid sounding vague or elementary, limit these phrases to the beginning of paragraphs—when they are needed to connect one topic to the next—or leave them out altogether.
3. Losing focus.
Also to be avoided when writing a paragraph are run-on sentences and off-topic interjections. The former destroys the clarity and flow of your writing, while the latter is not necessary and can affect the academic tone of your essay. Run-on sentences are sentences without periods, linking a series of independent clauses with commas. Knowing how to write a paragraph properly means knowing when and where to use appropriate punctuation.
Concise sentences tend to imply that the writer knows what he or she is talking about and can make clear statements that support the main argument. Off-topic interjections affect an essay in exactly the same way. If a sentence does not directly relate to the topic of the paragraph or the argument of the essay, then leave it out, or risk sounding wordy and unfocused.
Paragraphs make up the structure of every essay. Creating an outline before you start writing—or a blueprint, to return to the metaphor of building a house—is a great way to effectively arrange your topics, support your argument, and guide your writing.
Knowing what essay structure is and how to write a paragraph is essential to communicating your thoughts and research, no matter the topic, in a way that is readable and coherent.
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