Note. This lesson is part of an advanced course. To start from the beginning, go to the table of contents.
Stage 2. Writing Paragraphs (Part 2)
At this point in the writing process, you have generated ideas, planned your product, created a thesis statement, and outlined your paragraphs. It is time to start writing your paragraphs in your first draft.
Besides the thesis statement for your introduction, each other paragraph must have its own main idea, which you should write as a statement called the topic statement.
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The introduction is an important paragraph for several reasons.
- It gives your readers a clear idea about what your main point will be.
- It should also grab your readers’ attention and make them want to read more.
- It provides background information on the topic so your readers understand exactly how you are limiting your topic.
- It introduces your thesis statement, so your readers know what your position or argument about the topic is.
- It can also provide a layout of the structure of your essay in the form of a very brief overview of your main points (without going into much detail).
Your body paragraphs help your readers understand the main points you are making to support your thesis.
Each paragraph has its own main idea, which can be expressed in a topic statement. (The topic statement can be anywhere in the paragraph but, in general, it is at the beginning.)
In each body paragraph, you should provide explanations, illustrations, and examples of the evidence you are providing. It should be clear to your readers how your main idea supports the thesis; if you think the connection between the main idea of your paragraph and the overall argument may be unclear to the reader, you should make it clear.
Use transition words or expressions to make the relationship between ideas clear to your readers. Transition words are coordinating conjunctions (e.g., and, for, so, but, yet), subordinating conjunctins (e.g., because, although, unless), conjunctive adverbs (e.g., as a result, nonetheless, furthermore), and so on.
The Concluding Paragraph
The concluding paragraph synthesizes the main points in the body of your writing and gives your readers a sense of closure. In general, you start by reminding your readers about the thesis you set out to support in the introduction; however, you should not simply repeat the thesis statement.
Restate it in a new way to avoid repetition. Briefly summarize your main points. You can then choose among many ways to conclude, depending on what is appropriate for your topic.
For example, you can explain how the main ideas fit together and support the thesis, emphasize how your thesis holds true in view of the information you presented, ask a rhetorical question that leads your readers to reflect on the topic, warn the reader about the consequences of failing to act on the information you presented, and so on.
See Figure 1 below for what you can include and what you should avoid when writing your conclusion.
Figure 1. Strategies for writing an effective conclusion.
Organize the information:
Move from specific to general information.
Move from general to specific information.
Avoid or do not do:
Do not introduce any new information that you need to explain or support. That type of information should be in your body paragraphs, not in the conclusion.
Avoid drastic changes in your voice. Do not get overly sentimental or appeal to the readers’ emotions. Doing so weakens your argument. Instead, keep a similar tone to the rest of the text.
Include a topic sentence, supporting ideas, and closing thoughts:
The topic sentence in your conclusion must point back to the thesis statement. However, do not just repeat the thesis statement as the topic statement in your conclusion; instead, restate it in a new way.
For supporting ideas and closing thoughts, use any combination of the following:
- Where possible, connect back to the introduction.
- Summarize the main points in the body paragraphs (if possible in one sentence).
- Explain how the main ideas fit together.
- Explain how your thesis holds true.
- Ask a rhetorical question (which makes the reader reflect on the topic more deeply or under a new light).
- Warn the reader about the consequences of failing to act on the information you presented.
- Help the reader visualize your ideas or solutions in action.
- State your final words on the thesis (but do not introduce new information that you need to support).
- Point out the main lesson that the reader should take away from what you wrote.
- Provide advice on next steps or solutions to a problem (particularly if your writing was about a problematic issue).
- Include a call to action so your readers are left with actions they can take.
- Be creative. Depending on what your topic was, you may come up with some brilliant way to conclude it.
Writing tips for effective conclusions
Effective conclusions are concise. If your body paragraphs are clear and informative, you should not have to keep explaining your ideas yet again. Be clear, but get to the point quickly.
Put your work away for a day or two after you have completed your first draft. Then get back to it and read your product from start to finish. By gaining some distance from it, you will be able to see the whole product with a fresh set of eyes and have better ideas for your conclusion.
Up Next: Stage 3. Step 1. Revising Your Draft
Continue the lesson to learn about polishing your work by revising your draft.