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3.3: Body Paragraphs

  • Page ID
    15240
  • alejandro-alvarez-150148500.jpg

    Every body paragraph must adhere to the simple math of topic sentence + evidence = paragraph. [Image: Alejandro Alvarez  | Unsplash]

     

    Definition to Remember:

    • Topic Sentence + Evidence = Body Paragraph

    Rules to Remember:

    “I always imagine my emails being carefully read by a panel of experts critiquing me on my efforts years after I sent them. I put a lot of time into crafting well-articulated emails to ensure my point is coming across without being too rushed or too lengthy no matter who the audience. I never include anything I wouldn’t want written on my tombstone.” Dale Harris, IT Professional

    1. Each body paragraph must adhere to the simple math of topic sentence + evidence = paragraph. Remember that your readers will expect a new topic with each new paragraph, or at least a very clear progression forward of ideas.
    2. If it seems appropriate, include a summary sentence at the end of each body paragraph to remind your readers of your overall purpose for the essay.
    3. While there is no rule about the expected length of a paragraph, your readers will expect general uniformity. If your opening paragraphs are short, maintain that pattern throughout your essay. If your opening paragraphs are long, all paragraphs in your essay should be similarly long.

    Common Errors:

    • Forgetting to adhere to the simple math of the paragraph. When we “just write,” we tend to either contradict or repeat ourselves. While “just writing” is the preferred approach for a first draft, use the revision process to apply the simple math that will aid your readers in reading quickly, efficiently, and energetically.
    • Assuming that a topic sentence is not necessary with each new paragraph. When you assume, your readers will assume, and those assumptions almost never align.
    • Losing track of your main purpose. Here is where the umbrella metaphor can be helpful. Once you have a clear thesis statement, imagine each new body paragraph resting beneath that open umbrella. Does the new topic fit? Does it move your argument forward? Is your thesis statement broad enough to include all that you hope to include, and yet narrow enough to be manageable in the length required?

    Exercises:

    Exercise 12.1

    Consider an essay or longer piece you have written in the past week, whether for work, school, or personal use. When you consider the body paragraphs of your essay, did you adhere to the following structure? If not, what revisions should you make?

    1. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    2. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    3. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    4. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    5. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    6. (+ additional as needed)

    Exercise 12.2

    A friend of yours has been asked by his supervisor to write an eight-page assessment of a team he serves on at work. The assignment is due tomorrow, but your friend has been unable to focus his ideas. What clear steps would you offer your friend so he is able to complete the task in an effective and timely manner? List your advice below as clearly and simply as possible:

    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

    Exercise 12.3

    Consider an essay or writing assignment you will need to complete in the next week, whether for school, work, or home. What is your topic? What is your claim about that topic? Complete the following to ensure that you will hold to the simple math of an effective body paragraph:

    1. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    2. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    3. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    4. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    5. Body Paragraph –
      • Topic sentence:
      • Evidence:
    6. (+ additional as needed)
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