The Writing Process | Enrichment Course
Stage 2. Writing Paragraphs (Part 2)
Types of Paragraphs: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion
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.
What to Include in the Introduction
Certain elements in the introductory paragraph are important for different reasons.
- Typically, you make your main point clear to your readers by inserting the thesis statement somewhere in the introduction, usually toward the end of the introduction.
- Frame the topic and your idea by providing some background information to help your readers understand exactly what you are writing about and how you are limiting its scope.
For example, if your goal is to analyze an issue, define and explain issue as you see it; if you intend to persuade the readers, you can explain what makes the issue controversial so that your persuasive thesis makes sense.
- Make your purpose clear. For example, if your purpose is to teach your readers about a topic, it should be clear to your readers that your work is instructional.
In particular, when your purpose is to persuade, by the time your readers finish reading the introduction, they should know exactly what your position on the issue is.
- Grab your readers’ attention and interest and make them want to read more. This is known as “the hook” or “attention grabber.” It can be a background story, some interesting statistic, a surprising scenario, an intriguing question, and so on.
The attention getter you use depends on many factors such as the type of writing, the purpose of your writing, the audience, etcetera.
Other Possible Elements of an Introduction
Depending on the product, here are other elements you can have in an introduction.
- Highlight the relevance of the topic, that is, explain why the topic is important and timely.
- If appropriate, clarify the purpose of the text. Are you analyzing, comparing, evaluating, or presenting an argument? This prepares your readers for the type of information they should attend to.
- If appropriate, particularly in longer texts, explain how you plan to outline or structure the paragraphs or sections in your work. This gives your readers a roadmap in advance so they can follow your organization and logical argument. This should be a very brief overview without going into much detail.
Although you can use the writing process for any type of written work, it is not mean to be cookie-cutter. What you include in your introduction depends greatly on the purpose and complexity of your writing, your audience, formatting guidelines, and so on. It makes sense to frame your topic and clarify your purpose in the introduction. It also makes sense to have a clear thesis statement up front.
Nonetheless, you have much leeway to include certain elements while excluding others. For example, if you are writing for an an audience of experts, you may not need to include detailed, basic information that you can assume your readers already know. In contrast, you may even decide to break your introduction into two or more paragraphs if it makes sense to provide detailed background information to frame your issue in order to set up your purpose and thesis.
These and many other decisions are up to you.
Your body paragraphs help your readers understand the main points you are making to support your thesis.
Each paragraph has its own main idea expressed in a topic statement.
The topic statement is often at the beginning of the paragraph; however, it can be anywhere in the paragraph as long as it is clear to your readers that, that is what it is.
In fact, if your readers can infer the topic statement from the details (generally in a paragraph that is very clear), the topic statement can be left out.
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, 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 conjunctions (e.g., because, although, unless), conjunctive adverbs (e.g., as a result, nonetheless, furthermore), and so on.
The Concluding Paragraph (in a nutshell)
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. Do not simply repeat thesis statement. Instead, 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.
Let’s examine the concluding paragraph more closely and see what you can include and what you should avoid when writing your conclusion.
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. Your readers will be confused and annoyed if they finally reach the conclusion only to realize you are still presenting key information.
Avoid drastic changes in your voice. Do not appeal to the readers’ emotions or get overly dramatic or sentimental. “Laying it on thick" weakens your argument and credibility. Instead, you can choose a tone that signals finality while still sounding like the overall voice in your work.
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 example, previously in this course we saw this thesis statement:
School uniforms should be adopted because they promote a sense of unity, improve discipline, and reduce peer pressure.
For the concluding paragraph, here are possible ways you could restate it:
- The adoption of school uniforms fosters a cohesive and inclusive environment, instills discipline, and mitigates the negative effects of peer pressure and socioeconomic differences.
- Implementing school uniforms not only cultivates a unified atmosphere but also instills discipline and counters the detrimental effects of peer pressure in schools.
- Adopting school uniforms contributes to the development of a more cohesive community, improves discipline, and effectively minimizes the effects of peer pressure in schools.
Support the topic sentence
For supporting ideas and closing thoughts in the concluding paragraph, 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. This can be simple or complex actions such as directing your readers to other sources of information or suggesting they should actually do something to engage in a solution.
- 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.
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