Paragraphing. How to Compose an Effective Paragraph

ParagraphingEven if you are a beginner in writing, you already know that any text is usually divided into smaller parts called paragraphs. As many components of writing (especially creative writing), paragraphing is not dictated by rules. There are some recommendations on how to insert logical pauses into a text but there are no strict principles of segmentation in informal writing. In this post, we will give you some tips on how to make your writing more coherent and fascinating using paragraphing. After all, it is not a sophisticated figure of speech that makes text hit the target.

What is paragraphing?

An ability to organize your ideas, paragraphing is hardly about pedantism. But we would not call it an art as well. It would be most fair if we define paragraphing as a way to arrange your thoughts so the reader can understand your message better.

Even a beginning writer can make his or her text more comprehensible by dividing material into small and logically-connected sections. But there is always room for improvement, and you can learn how to make your writing better by breaking text into paragraphs smartly.

Why do we need to insert pauses into our text?

The most primitive but essential function of a paragraph is to make your writing readable. When looking through a huge fragment of text without ending, you do not want even to start reading. Paragraphs improve comprehension and increase the chances that someone will read your piece of writing until the end. A clear and simple structure is the key to success for every writer.

Another important thing about paragraphing is that it helps to make your point clear. Using a proper writing structure, you send the message straight to the reader, who has less chances to get lost in the author’s thoughts. The target of any text is to influence the audience in a certain way, i.e. to inform, impress, or call to action. Once you break your writing into parts, the intention of the text becomes much clearer.

In fiction writing, you can use paragraphs to mark your style. There are no strict rules about how to arrange text in fiction. You can improvise with the length of passages depending on your aim. Making super short sections is a great paragraphing tool to highlight the most important things. This is your story, and no one but its author will decide how it unwinds.

What are the types of paragraphing?

Depending on the target of writing, we generally distinguish between the 4 types of paragraphs:

  • narrative
  • descriptive
  • expository
  • persuasive

They are not defined by length but by the type of information they provide.

Narrative paragraphs tell readers a story. Every section looks like a mini-narrative—it has its own beginning, middle, and end. The sequence of actions is clear so the reader can perfectly understand what happens in the story. We use narrative paragraphs in different types of informal writing, especially in fiction.

Descriptive paragraphing helps writers characterize the subject of a story. This is usually a part of fiction writing as well. The author can make the sections any size as he or she seems fit.

Expository paragraphs give explanations about something familiar to the author. It can be a part of a research study or instruction. We usually apply this type of paragraphing to any writing that gives information on a certain subject.

Persuasive paragraphing provides argumentation on why the reader should accept the writer’s point of view. It is important for a persuasive section to contain a logical explanation of why the author’s point is important.

In general, you can use all these for essay paragraphing as well as for other types of writing. The choice depends on what your subject is and in what way you need to influence your reader.

Main paragraphing rules you should consider

The whole point of dividing a text into sections is to unify sentences around the main idea of a paragraph. The topic sentence expresses the key point of the whole section. When trying to structure your thoughts, place the topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. Then explain the main idea or support it with arguments. To expand the paragraph, you can do the following:

  • Illustrate your point with a story
  • Describe, compare, or contrast your topic
  • Give examples of what you are trying to explain
  • Define terms
  • Discuss an issue with the reader

If you want to move on to a new topic or describe the event that follows, it will be a good idea to start a new paragraph. Never try to squeeze all the information you can into one section—it will be too hard for readers to comprehend. If you are writing a short text, it also would be wise to plan paragraphs beforehand. Decide on how many sections you need to structure your text coherently. It will help to organize your thoughts to send a clear message to the reader.

Paragraphing exercises to improve your writing skills

As all authors know, a solid way to become a better writer is to start writing. Do not search for a paragraphing worksheet if you feel that your text is not structured well enough. Even if your writing is ready, there is always a way to revise it and make your message clearer to your audience and to yourself. Here is what you can do:

If the paragraphing of your text is not good enough: take another look at your writing. What was your main idea? Try to pick several key points out of your text and turn them into topic sentences. Then, rewrite each paragraph explaining these points.

If you are about to start writing: go ahead without any fear! Remember that the first draft of your paper can always be improved and that you will write better with every new attempt. Note down some key concepts of your future writing. Turn them into topic sentences. Explain, describe, or provide arguments for the ideas that are important for your readers.

Paragraphing is not the only tool that will help you become a better writer, editor, or teacher. But, expressing your thoughts in a structured manner is a fundamental skill every author needs to master. We hope our tips have helped you to create clear paragraphs and hit the target of your writing.