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Paragraph Writing Skills for Beginners

by Jana Sosnowski

After learning to develop complete sentences, writing a paragraph is the next step in formulating an essay or story. A paragraph is a group of sentences relating to a single topic. The key components of a paragraph, particularly as part of an essay, are a topic sentence, evidence, analysis and a concluding sentence.

Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is generally the first sentence in a paragraph. It presents the central idea of the paragraph, so it is considered the thesis of the paragraph. The topic sentence of a paragraph relates to the thesis or overall purpose of the essay. You can write a very explicit topic sentence -- that is, clearly state the topic of the paragraph -- or allude to the topic. One way to think about developing a topic sentence is to focus in on a single idea that proves the thesis of the overall essay and state that idea in a general way.

Evidence

After a topic sentence introduces a general idea for the paragraph, evidence is presented to support your topic sentence. Evidence is the more specific examples of your central idea. Your evidence can be facts, quotes, summaries of outside resources or a summary of plot. Evidence from outside sources is presented as a quote, paraphrase or statistic, and it is drawn from a variety of sources to present different opinions.

Analysis

Analysis of each piece of evidence allows you to present your idea about why the evidence supports your topic. You can think of the analysis as your interpretation of the evidence. In structuring the paragraph, introduce evidence and follow it with a sentence or two of analysis that shows the reader why your evidence is important. It is important to create a balance between evidence and analysis to show adequate support for your claims.

Conclusion

The conclusion sentence of a paragraph serves as both a concluding thought about the analysis in the paragraph and as a transition to the next paragraph. The concluding sentence should not summarize either the facts or the analysis presented in the paragraph. Instead, this final sentence should help you further your analysis with one final point on the topic of the paragraph. It should also explain why the evidence in the paragraph supports the claim of your topic sentence and the overall argument of your thesis.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.

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