Archive for the ‘Lecture Notes’ Category

Basic features of an essay arguing a position (Essay 3)

November 6, 2018

What are the key elements of this type of essay?

• A well-presented issue

To inform readers about an issue’s seriousness and arouse readers’ concern, writers may

give examples or statistics that show how many people are affected by the issue and how they are affected

use scenarios or anecdotes that resonate with readers’ own experience and raise their concern

quote authorities or research to show that the issue deserves attention.

• A well-presented position

Are the statements asserted to be facts widely accepted as true and complete?

Are cited authorities or sources trustworthy?

• An effective counterargument

Does the writer respond to possible objections readers might raise?

Does the writer acknowledge other concerns or other points of view?

Does the writer concede an objection and modifying the argument?

Does the writer refute readers’ possible objections?

• A readable plan

Essays arguing a position need to explain the issue, provide a reasoned argument, and counter argue objections. To make sure their essays are easy to read, writers usually include the following:

a forecast of the argument

key words introduced in the thesis and a forecasting statement

topic sentences introducing paragraphs

repeated use of key words

clear transitional words and phrases

More tips for writing Essay 2

November 1, 2018

Make sure your introduction explains the author’s purpose in writing the book and how these rhetorical appeals help him achieve that purpose.

Is Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book to inform? To persuade? To raise awareness?

For your introduction, ask yourself: Why do writers use the appeals to logic, emotion, authority? Answer that question in your introduction.

It’s probably a good idea to define the appeal that you are discussing. What, exactly, is the appeal to logos? Pathos? Ethos?

In your body paragraphs, explain why the appeal to logic is important for his purpose?

Why is the appeal to emotions important for his purpose?

Why is it important for him to establish his experience or knowledge or credibility?

Indent body paragraphs 5 spaces.

Write a title that connects with the essay topic and prepares the reader for what your essay will cover.

Rhetorical Appeals in Just Mercy

Stevenson’s Appeals to the Emotions in Just Mercy

The use of ethos, pathos and logos in Just Mercy

Draft focused topic sentences that respond to the essay assignment topic and unify your body paragraphs. Your topic sentences for this essay should explain why the author uses that specific rhetorical appeal, and why the appeal is important for him to achieve his purpose in writing the book.

Use your topic sentences to move your reader from one idea to the next and one paragraph to the next.

Stevenson uses the appeal pathos in order to _______________.

In addition to pathos, Stevenson appeals to logos as a way to ___.

And finally, Stevenson also appeals to ethos to establish ________.

When you cite an example of the book, remember to give the passage a little set-up and context, so the reader understands what scene you are talking about. (Pretend your reader has not read the book – that’s a good rule of thumb for doing an effective analysis like this.)

And also, make sure that you analyze the example you discuss. Don’t get bogged down in summarizing what’s going on in the passage – try to explain the interaction between the author and the reader.

What emotions, for example, is the author trying to rouse in the readers?

Why does the author give a bunch of facts, stats, numbers in the book?

Why does he talk about his background or his training?

What impact does this material have on the reader?

In every body paragraph, explain to your reader how the appeal connects to Stevenson’s purpose in writing the book.

Use your conclusion paragraph to summarize what you’ve just discussed in terms of the author’s use of these appeals. Also, explain what the book would be like without these appeals.

Incorporating quotations into Essay 2

October 29, 2018

As your assignment hand-out explains, you need to cite at least three examples from the book to complete your rhetorical analysis.

This means you have to bring in examples and quotations from the book in your body paragraphs to support the thesis you are making about his use of rhetorical strategies.

Integrating the words or ideas from another source is a big part of academic writing, so this essay will help you develop that skill.

Careful integration of quotations also helps you avoid plagiarism – the use of another’s ideas or words without attribution.

But remember the rule here: Never introduce a quotation into your essays without first introducing the quote, citing it, and explaining it.

This means that you will never begin or end a body paragraph with a quotation.

Think of this formula: Introduce, Cite and Explain.

Introduce

When introducing your quote, you need to provide the context of this quote as well as show the source of the quote.

In this assignment, you need to introduce the means of appeal or the rhetorical appeal that Stevenson uses in the passage you are about to discuss.

The quote cannot do the work for you; you must provide your reader with some idea of why you have chosen to use this quote.

You should also tell your reader who is speaking or where this quote came from in the book and the relationship this person or source has to the point you are making.

Cite

You need to provide in-text citations for all the references from the book that you use in your essay: (Stevenson 27).

Or:

Stevenson explains ________________ (27).

Explain

After the quote, explain the significance of the quotation. How might it relate to your thesis about Stevenson’s use of that rhetorical appeal?

It is your responsibility as the writer to interpret the quote for your reader and provide the significance.

Here’s a good formula to keep in mind when using quotations in your body paragraphs:

Introduce it: Before adding in your quotation, introduce it with a signal phrase and a reporting verb (argues, claims, suggests, points out)

Example: Stevenson points out that …

Quotation: After you have introduced your quotation with a signal phrase or reporting verb, integrate your quotation.

Example: Stevenson argues that our criminal justice system “traumatizes and victimizes people when we exercise our power to convict and condemn irresponsibly” (12).

Explain it: Now that you’ve integrated your quotation, explain why the quotation is important to your thesis.

What do you think the quotation means? How does it connect to your thesis about the author’s use of rhetorical appeals?

A good rule to remember: Your explanation should be at least as long, or longer, than the quotation itself.

If you include a quotation without any sort of introduction, your reader won’t understand how the quotation connects to your paragraph (even if it makes sense to you).

Below are some signal phrases and reporting verbs you can use to introduce your quotations (your Pocket Style Manual also has a list of these):

Signal Phrases

Stevenson explains that
Stevenson demonstrates this by
Stevenson acknowledges

Believes
Adds
Argues
Emphasizes
Demonstrates
Points out
Rejects
Suggests
Notes
Thinks

Tips & strategies for writing Essay 2

October 29, 2018

• Introduction

If you’re stuck in how to get started writing Essay 2, look at page 2 of the essay assignment.

I give you some tips and ideas on how to brainstorm your introduction.

The introduction paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay like Essay 2 should provide information about what you will be writing about.

Make sure that you introduce Stevenson and his book. (This is one of the criteria for evaluation I mention on the first page of the assignment.)

What is his purpose in writing the book, and how do appeals connect to that purpose?

You could begin your introduction by starting with a discussion about why and how writers use rhetorical appeals to achieve their purpose.

That you could lead you into your discussion of Stevenson’s book and his purpose and his use of rhetorical appeals.

Think of your introduction as an upside-down triangle:

The wider base at the beginning is your discussion of writers and why/how they use rhetorical appeals; and the tip of your triangle is your thesis about how Stevenson uses appeals in his book to achieve his purpose.

You should also mention in your introduction which appeals you will be discussing, and how successful Stevenson is in using those appeals to achieve his purpose (this is your thesis).

• Body paragraphs

Let’s review what we said last week about body paragraphs in Essay 2.

Write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical strategies and appeals that you mention in your introduction.

Keep this formula in mind:

1 appeal or means of persuasion=1paragraph

(Note: You can use the phrases “rhetorical appeal” or “means of persuasion” or “appeal to ethos” or “appeal to logos” or “appeal to pathos” in your essay.)

Keep this point in mind: All of your body paragraphs need to explain how Stevenson uses that appeal to the reader, and how these appeals connect back to his purpose in writing the book.

Remember our formula for effective body paragraphs – the word TEST:

Topic Sentence
Evidence
Summary Statement
Transition

Topic Sentence: Unifies your paragraph

Remember, each paragraph in the body should have its own topic sentence.

For the topic sentence for this assignment, make sure that you explain the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about.

You should write one paragraph on each of the rhetorical strategies and appeals that you mention in your introduction.

Use the questions I have provided to you in the essay assignment hand-out to help you focus your body paragraphs:

What is the definition of the rhetorical strategy or appeal you are writing about?

Writers use the appeal to pathos in order to …

The appeal to pathos is used by writers to …

What is your evaluation of Stevenson’s use of that appeal in regard to his purpose?

Stevenson’s appeal to ethos is effective in this chapter because …

How does the example in this paragraph illustrate the use of that strategy?

This moment in Chapter 2 illustrates how Stevenson appeals to …

How does this example contribute to Stevenson’s purpose?

In order to achieve this purpose, Stevenson uses the appeal to … in order to …

Evidence: Supports your paragraph’s topic sentence (an example of the appeal you are writing about)

You need to find concrete examples of Stevenson using this appeal in his book.

As I say in the criteria for evaluation, I’m looking for clear and specific evidence that he does use these means of persuasion.

How does the example in your body paragraph illustrate the use of that appeal?

Summary statement: (explaining why Stevenson uses that appeal)

How does this example contribute to his purpose? (Use the summary statement to link back to your thesis)

Transitions: (so you lead your reader smoothly from one example to the next)

In addition to using the appeal to emotions, Stevenson also uses the appeal to …

Another example of how Stevenson appeals to the emotions occurs in the first chapter …

• Do a close reading of each of your examples

Remember also that a rhetorical analysis assignment like Essay 2 requires you to do a close reading of the book – in other words, you must discuss the words and phrases that Stevenson uses to achieve his effects.

Find the definitions and stats that you are talking about and include them in your body paragraphs. This is the evidence I’m looking for.

You have to show how and why Stevenson uses the appeal and how that appeal connects to your topic sentence (and your thesis).

Or let’s say you wanted to discuss why Stevenson included the moment where Henry suddenly starts singing in the beginning of the book.

You could write something like: “Another example of Stevenson using the appeal to pathos occurs with the moment of Henry’s singing a hymn in the beginning of the book. This passage portrays Henry as a sad and lost man locked behind bars.”

But this wouldn’t be sufficient in terms of a rhetorical analysis of that page. This is more of a summary of that passage than an analysis of how the passage works.

What, exactly, does Stevenson say here about Henry and himself? What words or phrases does he use to convey the emotions of this scene?

How does the language Stevenson uses help him convey the emotions he wants his readers to feel?

What emotions is he trying to rouse in his reader?

And remember to finish this paragraph by explaining how it connects to Stevenson’s overall purpose:

If your thesis is that Stevenson uses the appeal to pathos to give a human dimension to the problems in the criminal justice system, you need to explain:

Why is that human dimension important for Stevenson’s purpose?

Essay 2 – The means of persuasion

October 24, 2018

As we’ve discussed, writers of argument use three means of persuasion – logos, pathos and ethos – to appeal to readers.

The degree to which a writer uses each of these appeals depends on the rhetorical situation (the writer, the writer’s purpose, the audience, the topic).

Let’s review the means of persuasion or rhetorical appeals you are writing about for Essay 2.

LOGOS

To appeal to your reader’s mind, you give reasons. If your reasons make sense and your examples and details are specific and clear, your logos will be convincing.

Logos is a Greek word for word, by which the Greeks meant “divine words,” meaning reason or the word of God. From logos comes our word logic. So an appeal to logos is an appeal to reason.

If you are writing about logos, here a questions to ask yourself as you read the book:

Where does Stevenson use reasons that make sense?

Is Stevenson’s argument reasonable and worth considering? How so?

Is his supporting evidence clear, specific and convincing?

Does he use accurate facts, statistics, examples, and details?

PATHOS

Pathos comes from the Greek word for “suffering”; we use it to mean appealing to the emotions. From pathos comes the word sympathy: to have appropriate feelings for another person’s emotions.

If you are writing about Stevenson’s use of pathos, here are some questions to consider:

What clues are in the book that Stevenson is appealing to your emotions? What words or phrases does he use to move readers?

What emotions do you think Stevenson is trying to rouse in his readers: sadness, fear, guilt, hope?

Is the pathos appropriate and used with restraint – not faked or exaggerated in order to manipulate the readers?

ETHOS

Ethos is the Greek word for “character.” From it we have the word ethics. When you say that a writer has good character, you imply that you approve of his or her morals or his or her sense of right and wrong; you share the values of the writer.

If you are writing about ethos, here are a few questions to consider:

What clues in the book make you believe that Stevenson is trustworthy, fair-minded and credible?

What authority does Stevenson have on this subject?

What is Stevenson’s attitude toward his topic (the American criminal justice system)? Serious? Sincere?

Remember: When writing about the appeal to ethos, don’t confuse the appeal with how characters behave in the book; the essay assignment is asking you how the author – Stevenson – uses the appeal to ethos to establish his credibility in the minds of his readers.

Essay 2 Thesis & Outline

October 24, 2018

For Monday, please turn in a typed, one-page document, properly formatted (a header with your name, my name, class name, date) and a running header on the upper right) that includes:

1) A thesis that states your main point: How Stevenson uses rhetorical appeals (or means of persuasion) to accomplish his purpose, and how successful he is in using these appeals.

(Note: You can focus just on the Introduction, or on Chapter One, or Chapter Two, or Chapter Three, or a mix of any of these.)

For example, you can write about how he uses ethos, pathos and logos.

Or you can just write about how he uses one means of persuasion (pathos, for example), and show three examples of how he uses that strategy in the book.

Note: You can use the term means of appeal or rhetorical appeals. Either one is acceptable. (The word appeal means how the author is trying to persuade or move or convince the reader.)

2) An outline of your body paragraphs:

Three or four bullet points (or topic sentences) that explain:

which rhetorical appeal each body paragraph will discuss

how the example illustrates Stevenson’s use of that appeal in the book

and how the appeals to the reader contribute to Stevenson’s purpose

Essay 2: Rhetorical Analysis

October 22, 2018

The Essay 2 assignment connects to these Student Learning Outcomes listed on your syllabus:

• Analyze and evaluate information to assess the validity and usefulness of an argument

• Argue a point and support it (in writing) using evidence from an outside source

Listen and speak (actively) by questioning, clarifying and supporting one’s ideas and the ideas of others.

The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is not to summarize a piece of writing (as you did in the first assignment), but to

explore how the rhetoric in a piece of writing works;

explore how ideas are presented and argued;

and analyze how the strategies works (or does not work) to help the writer achieve his or her purpose.

First, think about the Rhetorical Situation:

The rhetorical situation consists of the following elements, all of which you should think about as you write your analysis:

The writer
The writer’s purpose
The writer’s audience
The topic

Second, to analyze a writer’s rhetoric, you need to investigate how the writer composed the writing to achieve his or her goal.

And this type of analysis is your assignment for Essay 2.

The Means of Persuasion: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos

Writers use three means of persuasion – logos, pathos, and ethos – to appeal to readers.

These terms can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, where he identified these three primary modes of persuasion.

Effective arguments combine two or more of these appeals. The most effective arguments, like Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” for example, uses all three.

Logos – The Appeal to Logic

The logical appeal is the most widely used appeal in arguments. The logical writer relies on evidence provided for claims and on sound reasoning.

If you analyze the appeal to logic, one aspect is how the piece of writing is organized and how logical and reasonable that organization is in its attempt to persuade or move or inform.

Here are some examples of logos that you might find when reading texts of various media:

Statistics: When a writer uses data or statistics within a text, you can assume that he or she is trying to appeal to the logic and reason of the reader.

Causal statements: When you read an “if-then” statement, with credible supporting evidence, the writer is likely trying to appeal to your reason.

Another way of thinking about logos: Think of logos as evidence that doesn’t appeal to your emotions.

Pathos – The Appeal to Emotion

Emotional appeals can be highly effective when used in conjunction with logical appeals.

Aristotle knew that an appeal to the emotions could be very persuasive because it adds a human dimension to an argument.

By appealing to an audience’s sympathies and by helping them to identify with the subject being discussed, emotional appeals can turn abstract concepts into concrete examples that can compel people to take action.

Used honestly and with restraint, emotional appeals arouse the “better self” of the reader by eliciting sympathy, civic pride or feelings based on shared values or beliefs.

Ethos – The Appeal to Authority

Ethical appeals establish the credibility of the writer.

The word ethos comes from the Greek word ethos, meaning nature or disposition; the word was also used to talk about the power of music to influence the listener.

For Aristotle, ethos describes the moral character of the writer or speaker.

Audiences don’t trust a writer who states opinions as fact, distorts evidence, or makes claims that can’t be supported. They trust a writer who is honest, knowledgeable, and fair.

So when you analyze how a writer appeals to ethos, you are explaining how the author establishes his or her credibility and authority in the minds of readers.

A word of caution when writing about the appeal to ethos:

Don’t confuse a writer’s use of the appeal to ethos by how characters behave in the book; if you discussed how Stevenson points out that a judge or a witness acts in an unethical or corrupt way in the book – that would be a description of how a person in the book acts, not an analysis of Stevenson appealing to ethos.

Remember: This essay assignment is asking you how the author – Stevenson – uses the appeal to ethos to establish his credibility.

Midterm Exam

October 4, 2018

The Midterm Exam will take place on Wednesday, 10/17.

The format of the Midterm is open book, so remember to bring you copy on the day of the exam.

Use a Green Book (a composition book) to write your answer. Please use black or blue ink.

You will have the full class period (85 minutes) to write your answer.

I am providing the questions to you beforehand so you can think and prepare for your written response.

What makes writing in-class essays like the Midterm and the Final difficult comes from the fact that most first draft writing is disorganized and unfocused – you are responding to a question that you’ve haven’t seen before.

That’s why I’m giving you the questions in advance, so you can develop a focused thesis and plan your answer. So I’ve designed the Midterm Exam to build the writing process into the exam itself.

The purpose of this essay exam test is

to test your comprehension of the reading required for this class;

and

to evaluate your ability to generate ideas, sentences and conclusions in response to that reading.

A good Midterm Exam essay exam will be:

focused with a thesis statement
organized around a sequence of connected assertions
developed by use of examples and evidence

So now that I’ve given you possible questions, let’s talk about how to plan and organize an essay response:

Here are some strategies for this essay response:

As you write down notes for your 3X5 cards:

1) Analyze the question by underlining cue or key word(s) to determine exactly what the question asks
2) Rephrase the question into a topic sentence/thesis statement
3) Outline the main points you plan to cover in your essay
4) Use a logical pattern of organization and a strong topic sentence for each paragraph
5) Support generalizations with specifics/evidence
6) Beware of going off topic – respond to the prompt (see number 1)

Tips for drafting Essay 1: Illustration

September 23, 2018

Illustration is writing that uses examples to support a point or a generalization.

Basics of a good illustration essay:

• It has a point.

• It gives specific examples that show, explain, or prove that point.

• It gives details to support the examples.

• It uses enough examples to get the point across to the reader.

The point: Luma’s personality/character.

Specific examples: taken from the book to show/explain her character.

In illustration, the main idea is the message you want your readers to receive and understand.

The topic sentence in your body paragraphs connect back to your main idea (thesis).

Topic + Main idea = topic sentence

Aspect/quality Luma’s personality/character

Think critically as you write your first draft. Ask yourself:

Does your introduction include a thesis statement that clearly states your essay’s main idea?

Do you have enough evidence – fully developed examples – to support your thesis?

Is each of your examples clearly related to your main idea (thesis)?

If your paragraph feels “thin,” can you find new examples to build it up?

Does your conclusion include a summary statement that reinforces your essay’s thesis?

Do you include transitions that move readers from one example to the next?

Below are some common issues I saw in student thesis statements and outlines:

• Thesis statement is too vague. Don’t be afraid of being specific in your thesis statement about Luma’s personality and character.

Name the qualities that are the most important in describing who Luma is as a person.

Many of you are using a “forecasting” thesis statement, which is great, because this is the type of essay that calls out for a forecasting thesis statement, where you name the qualities/aspects of Luma’s personality that you will be discussing in your essay.

What is a “forecasting thesis”?

A forecasting statement introduces the reader to the points in your thesis, reducing each point to one or two words.

Choose the major ones that will help your reader understand your topic (Luma’s personality and character).

I would suggest placing a forecasting statement at the end of the introduction. That placement allows you to make the transition naturally from the introduction to the first major point.

Make sure that your essay’s organization lines up with the qualities you name in your forecasting thesis statement.

And because a forecasting thesis statement is listing three our four qualities, you have to make sure that those items are parallel in grammatical structure.

If I have written “faulty parallelism” next to your thesis statement – this is what I mean:

Parallelism is a stylistic device of placing equal ideas in equivalent grammatical constructions. When these ideas are not grammatically parallel, then you have a faulty parallelism.

Use the same grammatical form for all items in a series or a list – all nouns, all gerunds, all prepositional phrases, and so on.

Faulty: Please leave your name, your number, and you should also leave a message.

Parallel: Please leave your name, your number, and your message.

Faulty: Making the team was one thing, but it was very difficult to stay on it.

Parallel: Making the team was one thing, but staying on it was another.

• Think about your essay’s organization.

I’d recommend using a least- to most-important example structure.

Is there a quality in Luma’s character that is dominant or the most important? Save that for the last part of your essay.

Some of your place that most important quality in the first or second body paragraph. I’d move it to your final example.

• Quoting dialogue from the book:

Remember to place spoken dialogue from the book that you are quoting in single quotation marks.

Student sentence:

For Luma, her financial situation changes quickly, as she explains in Chapter One: “‘I went from being able to walk into any restaurant and store in the United States and buy whatever I wanted, to having nothing’” (23).

Remember to use in-text citations not only when you are quoting directly from the book, but when you summarize or paraphrase ideas or examples from the book.

• Remember to use present tense to discuss actions and thoughts presented in the book (In Chapter One, St. John describes Luma’s childhood …)

Use past tense when when writing about events that take place in the past (Luma fell out of favor with her father when …), but when you discuss the points raised in the book, use present tense.

 

Understanding paragraph structure

September 6, 2018

I’ll hand out your first essay assignment next week.

As a preview for that assignment, let’s review strategies of writing paragraphs for the essays in this class.

I looked over your student info sheets, and many of you wrote that you want to strengthen your essay writing skills (including help in essay format, punctuation, and grammar).

You want help in organizing your ideas and structuring your essays

Because paragraphs are central to almost every kind of writing, learning how to write one is an important skill in becoming an effective writer of essays.

Just as an essay is a group of paragraphs unified by a single main idea (the thesis), a paragraph is a group of sentences that is unified by a single main idea (the topic sentence).

The thesis statement tells the reader what the rest of the essay is about.

The thesis for Essay 1 (an illustration essay) will be a generalization about Luma’s personality and character that you want to explain to your reader.

We’ll talk about brainstorming for that assignment. Your goal will be to figure out what you think Luma’s main characteristics are or what drives her in terms of your personality.

Once you have enough material to write about, then you can draft a thesis statement and the main ideas in your body paragraphs that develop that thesis.

Here’s a sample thesis statement for that assignment:

Luma Mufleh is a self-sufficient, self-motivated person, with a desire to have a life she can truly call her own.

This thesis tells the reader that the rest of the essay will illustrate this general claim.

The topic sentence is different from your thesis statement. The topic sentence shows only what the paragraph it is attached to is about.

Thesis: Luma Mufleh is a self-sufficient, self-motivated person, with a desire to have a life she can truly call her own.

These are the main ideas of the body paragraphs:

Paragraph 1: Self-sufficient

Paragraph 2: Self-motivated

Paragraph 3: A desire for a life of her own

All of these aspects of Luma need to be discussed further, and they all explain the thesis statement.

Each of these three ideas can become topic sentences. For each idea, there will be a paragraph that explains it.

Change each of these main ideas into a complete sentence, and you’ve drafted a good topic sentence.

Example: One of the strongest aspects of Luma’s character is her self-sufficiency in any situation.

The rest of the sentences in that paragraph will explain this topic sentence.

An effective topic sentence has three characteristics:

1. A topic sentence is a complete sentence.

There’s a difference between a topic and a topic sentence. The topic is what the paragraph is about; a topic sentence, however, is a complete sentence that includes a subject and a verb and express a complete thought.

Topic: Luma’s self-sufficiency

Topic sentence: One of the strongest aspects of Luma’s character is her self-sufficiency in any situation.

2. A topic sentence is more than just an announcement of what you plan to write about.

In this paragraph, I will explain my ideas about Luma’s self-sufficiency.

A topic sentence makes a point about the topic that the paragraph discusses.

3. A topic sentence presents an idea that can be discussed in a single paragraph.

If your topic sentence is too broad, you won’t be able to discuss in just one paragraph. If it’s too narrow, you won’t be able to say much about it.

Topic sentence too broad: Luma’s experience living in America reflects the issues encountered by immigrants after 9/11.

Remember: There is only one thesis statement.

But there is one topic sentence for each body paragraph you write.

THESIS————>PARAGRAPHS>————>ESSAY

TOPIC SENTENCE——>SENTENCES>———>PARAGRAPH

The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph, and the rest of the sentences in the paragraph provide evidence (examples and details) to support the main idea.

So when you write your body paragraphs, always check for these elements:

TOPIC SENTENCE
EVIDENCE
TRANSITIONS
SUMMARY STATEMENT

The sentences in a paragraph are linked by transitions, words and phrases (such as also and for example) that show how ideas are related.

At the end of the paragraph, a summary statement reinforces the main idea.

Note: Your topic sentence should focus on only one main idea. Two main ideas can split and weaken the focus of your writing.

Effective paragraphs are unified: in a unified paragraph, all of the sentences directly support the topic sentence.

Including details that are not relevant to the topic sentence makes your paragraph unclear and distracts your reader from the point you are making.

At this point, you might being asking:

How long should a paragraph be? A well-developed paragraph is usually about 8 to 10 sentences long.

Topic Sentence (1)
Evidence – Examples and Details (5-6)
Summary statement (1)

By the way: the first sentence of a paragraph is always indented, starting about half an inch from the left-hand margin. (And every sentence begins with a capital letter.)

Drafting Tip: Once you have brainstormed ideas and formulated a thesis statement, write complete, focused topic sentences in your outlining stage.

Use those topic sentences to develop support and examples and details. Those topic sentences will also keep your essay on track.

St. John uses topic sentences and unified paragraphs through his book.

In Chapter One (“Luma”), for example, he writes about Luma’s family background, describing how they were a “wealthy, Westernized family in Amman, Jordan” (15). And on page 17 is this passage:

The Al-Muflehs were intent on raising their children with their same cosmopolitan values. They sent Luma to the American Community School in Amman, a school for the children of American expatriates, mostly diplomats and businessmen, and elite Jordanians, including the children of King Hussein and Queen Noor. Luma learned to speak English without an accent – she now speaks like a midwesterner – and met kids from the United States and Europe, as well as the children of diplomats from all over the world.

The Al-Muflehs were intent on raising their children with their same cosmopolitan values. (TOPIC SENTENCE ).

They sent Luma to the American Community School in Amman, a school for the children of American expatriates, mostly diplomats and businessmen, and elite Jordanians, including the children of King Hussein and Queen Noor. (EVIDENCE – EXAMPLE AND DETAIL).

Luma learned to speak English without an accent – she now speaks like a midwesterner – and met kids from the United States and Europe, as well as the children of diplomats from all over the world.
(EVIDENCE – EXAMPLE AND DETAIL – AND SUMMARY STATEMENT THAT CONNECTS BACK TO THE TOPIC SENTENCE).