#6: A well written paragraph
In the video Parts of a Paragraph - English Adacemic Writing Introduction. May 19, 2009 from the site: "engVid - Free English Video Lessons"" it is discussed about how to write a paragraph, the basic information needed to write it well.
The parts of a paragraph are:
- Topic Sentence (It should include an interesting topic and your opinion on it.)
- Body ( The body contains all of the supporting arguments for the Topic sentence. The details can be ordered by order of importance or chonology)
- Closing sentence ( It reminds the topic to the audience and keep them thinking)
Examples of Topic Sentences:
1. Many politicians deplore the passing of the old family-sized farm, but I'm not so sure. I saw around Velva a release from what was like slavery to the tyrannical soil, release from the ignorance that darkens the soul and from the loneliness that corrodes it. In this generation my Velva friends have rejoined the general American society that their pioneering fathers left behind when they first made the barren trek in the days of the wheat rush. As I sit here in Washington writing this, I can feel their nearness. (from Eric Sevareid, "Velva, North Dakota")
Sevareid argues that farming is destructive as a way of life, no matter what romantic notions are attached to it. He is not writing about the productivity of farms, about his own life story ("I grew up on a family-sized farm..."), and his main point is not that people moved away from the cities in the late the nineteenth century.
2. There are two broad theories concerning what triggers a human's inevitable decline to death. The first is the wear-and-tear hypothesis that suggests the body eventually succumbs to the environmental insults of life. The second is the notion that we have an internal clock which is genetically programmed to run down. Supporters of the wear-and-tear theory maintain that the very practice of breathing causes us to age because inhaled oxygen produces toxic by-products. Advocates of the internal clock theory believe that individual cells are told to stop dividing and thus eventually to die by, for example, hormones produced by the brain or by their own genes. (from Debra Blank, "The Eternal Quest" [edited]).
This paragraph is a straightforward description of two possibilities, neither of which is preferred over the other. In this case, it would be wrong to mention only one of the possibilities (the "internal time clock") in the topic sentence, or to treat it as a philosophical discussion of death itself ("we all must die..."). As for the biology professor, He or she might very well have given an interesting lecture, but that has nothing to do with the content of the paragraph.
3. We commonly look on the discipline of war as vastly more ridigd than any discipline necessary in time of peace, but this is an error. The strictest military discipline imaginable is still looser than that prevailing in the average assembly-line. The soldier, at worst, is still able to exercise the highest conceivable functions of freedom -- that is, he or she is permitted to steal and to kill. No discipline prevailing in peace gives him or her anything remotely resembling this. The soldier is, in war, in the position of a free adult; in peace he or she is almost always in the position of a child. In war all things are excused by success, even violations of discipline. In peace, speaking generally, success is inconceivable except as a function of discipline. (from H.L. Mencken, "Reflections on War" [edited]).
The topic sentence must emphasise the comparative nature of the paragraph. Mencken does argue that soldiers need discipline, but this is not all he argues in this paragraph. Likewise, while soldiers may well serve an important function in wartime, and while they may well be able to compete well in peacetime, neither of these points is discussed in the paragraph.
4. Although the interpretation of traffic signals may seem highly standardized, close observation reveals regional variations across this country, distinguishing the East Coast from Central Canada and the West as surely as dominant dialects or political inclinations. In Montreal, a flashing red traffic light instructs drivers to careen even more wildly through intersections heavily populated with pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. In startling contrast, an amber light in Calgary warns drivers to scream to a halt on the off chance that there might be a pedestrian within 500 meters who might consider crossing at some unspecified time within the current day. In my home town in New Brunswick, finally, traffic lights (along with painted lines and posted speed limits) do not apply to tractors, all terrain vehicles, or pickup trucks, which together account for most vehicles on the road. In fact, were any observant Canadian dropped from an alien space vessel at an unspecified intersection anywhere in this vast land, he or she could almost certainly orient him-or-herself according to the surrounding traffic patterns.
It is not enough simply to list all of the arguments in the paragraph ("People in Montreal drive faster..."), or to pick only one point to hilight ("People in Calgary are careful of pedestrians"). Instead, the topic sentence should highlight the interpretative nature of driving habits and their regional variations. Since the paragraph stresses the differences among drivers in different parts of the country, it would be entirely wrong simply to state in the topic sentence that "Canadians do not follow traffic signals properly."
Examples from the website http://arts.uottawa.ca/writingcentre/en/hypergrammar/writing-paragraphs/review-topic-sentencesExploring ideas in Literature: Genres – Entry #7