What Makes A Good Paragraph?

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2 years ago

Whether you are writing an essay or a book, you need to write paragraphs. In any body of work, the paragraph makes up the steps of a ladder that bring clarity to a work or discount it. All paragraphs have one thing in common which defines them. That is, they are a collection of sentences relating to one main idea or topic.

Characteristics of a good paragraph.

  • First, every good paragraph has a topic sentence.

    The topic sentence highlights the main idea. This sentence is usually the first or second sentence in the paragraph. The topic sentence supports or opposes the ideas of the preceding paragraph. The topic sentence in the introduction or closing paragraph gives new information.

  • A paragraph has unity.

    Each sentence contributes to the central idea in the paragraph. It would be bad writing to have two sentences with different ideas in a single paragraph. This is a sign the writer is not organized or careless.

  • All paragraphs are coherent.

    The ideas should be singular in a paragraph. They could support or oppose the topic of the work. The sentences should build a crescendo for that idea. I have read works by students where they ramble because they want to show off their knowledge. Rambling or diverging from the idea of the paragraph would turn off the reader and make him or her stop reading.

Cohering paragraphs are like the items in a cabinet. Image source: Unsplash.com

  • You need to develop your paragraphs.

    That does not mean you should write several sentences in a paragraph. You can highlight the salient ideas and proofs supporting the idea. A rule of thumb for writers is that a paragraph should have five sentences, although this is not cast in stone. You can have more or less, but never too much. Having so many sentences makes the reader lose track of the salient information.

Rules to make your writing have readable and consistent paragraphs.

  • Make sure there are no grammatical errors.

    Grammar mistakes in a piece of writing is a lack of respect for the reader. Spelling mistakes are hallmarks of carelessness. They detract from the message. Writers are in luck in this area. Online editing and proofreading tools exist that make use of artificial intelligence. Some of them are Grammarly and ProWritingAid. Make use of them all the time.

  • Avoid the use of unnecessary adverbs.

    Adverbs are old-fashioned. If you use too many adverbs, it shows a lack of creativity and laziness. Try to find words that can replace an adverb if you find yourself using them a lot.

Image source: Unsplash.com

  • Try to write in the active voice rather than the passive voice.

    Using phrases containing something like: "He was obliged to take it," are passive sentences. They make your writing sound dull and boring. When I started my life as an editor, my proofreader used to tell me my writing was boring. I realized later that I made use of a lot of passive sentences. The sentence above could be rewritten actively as: "He took it as a duty." Passive sentences are archaic writing. Modern writers make use of active sentences. You should make the change.

  • End your paragraphs with a transitional phrase.

    Using a transitional phrase helps keep the flow in the writing. It gives a leeway to introduce the next idea in the coming paragraph. It prevents the reader from having a jump in his or her understanding of the piece of writing.

How to structure your work with paragraphs.

Paragraphs form the structure of your work or essay. A civil engineer understands what shape his construction will take. Your writing is an artistic piece of construction. You should understand the structure it will take.

Here are the paragraphs that form the structure of every writing.

  • The first paragraph.

    The first paragraph is like the door to the information you are trying to put across. It introduces what you want to say to the reader. It is sometimes called the introduction paragraph. You should use this paragraph as a scene setter. When good orators speak, they introduce their topic with a scene setter. This helps you to hook the reader and make him or her continue reading.

  • The final paragraph.

This gives closure to your work. The final paragraph should not restate information in the preceding paragraphs. Use it for stating consequences and ramifications. These should relate to the subject matter, that is, the holistic work.

  • All other paragraphs.

All other paragraphs that are neither the first or final paragraph should serve as a link or chain in the work. They follow one another and develop the central idea or theme. Let the first sentence of the paragraphs be the link that connects it to the paragraph that is preceding it. This way, the reader follows the central idea logically. It makes the reader understand the information and he or she becomes satisfied.

A complete piece of writing is like a roller coaster when done well. Image source: Unsplash.com

Before I conclude this piece, I want to give you some useful advice. One thing with writing paragraphs is that you need to watch your paragraph length. As I said before, the norm is five sentences per paragraph but you can go above it. When doing so, be careful that you do not start rambling because you want to fill space or write more words.

I hope you do use the ideas presented in this piece in your writing. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Readcash community. Subscribe to my blog to keep receiving more of my writing.

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