Essay Development: Writing Review Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011


If, in your introduction, you say what you are going to say, then the body of your essay is where you actually say it. Each paragraph of the body of your essay should contain a topic sentence (we'll talk more about topic sentences in a minute) and should serve as direct support for your thesis statement. The body of your paper is where you defend and/or support the point you made in your introduction.


So, in your introduction, you've said what you're going to say. Then, in the body of your essay, you've said it. Now, in your conclusion, you say what you said. This is your chance to remind the reader of your thesis and to sum up your major points. You may want to leave it at that, or you may want to take it a step further and make a recommendation or prediction for the future.

Pace Yourself

Practice identifying the parts of an essay by dissecting a newspaper article.

Topic Sentences

We need to consider one other means of organization. Not only your essay as a whole, but also each paragraph within your essay, needs to be organized. So here's the deal. Every paragraph in your essay will have a topic. You will need to introduce that topic to your reader with a topic sentence. A topic sentence tells your reader what the paragraph is about, but that's not all the multitalented topic sentence accomplishes. It has to relate simultaneously to your thesis and to the rest of the paragraph. Think of the topic sentence as standing tall on the page, holding hands with both the thesis and the paragraph, so that they never get too far apart.

Parts of a Topic Sentence

Because one of the jobs of a topic sentence is to tell your reader what the paragraph is about, it needs to be composed of two important parts: the topic and the focus.

The topic is what the paragraph is about. The focus is what you think about the topic. Here are some examples of topic sentences with the topic and focus identified.


Kinds of Paragraphs

Now that you know how to write a topic sentence that clearly identifies the topic and the focus, let's talk about how to construct the rest of the paragraph. The first decision to make is where to place your topic sentence. Should it be the first sentence, or the last? Or should it be stuck somewhere in the middle? Well, the middle is not an option. Your reader would be very confused to read one of your topic sentences in the middle of a paragraph. The remaining options are putting your topic sentence first or putting it last. Each of these options creates a different type of paragraph. The two types of paragraphs are deductive and inductive.

Deductive Paragraphs

A deductive paragraph begins with the topic sentence, so the reader knows right away what the rest of the paragraph will be about. Here's an example.

    One way to prevent tooth decay is to make regular visits to your dentist. Even if you take care of your teeth every day at home, it is still advantageous to get them cleaned by a dentist a couple of times a year. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash at home can clean your teeth only so much. The dentist uses special tools that are not available to the average person to use every day on his or her teeth.

Inductive Paragraphs

An inductive paragraph ends with the topic sentence and, therefore, is not as straightforward as a deductive paragraph. Instead of introducing the topic right away, the inductive paragraph builds up to introducing the topic. Here's an example.

    Dentists use special tools to clean your teeth. These tools are not available to most people and clean teeth better than brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash at home. So, in order to supplement your home cleaning, you should visit the dentist a couple times each year. Visiting your dentist regularly is one way to prevent tooth decay.

For now, don't worry about trying to create inductive paragraphs. Because deductive paragraphs are much more straightforward, they're a good type to start practicing with. After you've had some practice writing essays, you can experiment with different styles.

Inside Track

Details are what make an argument convincing and an essay interesting.

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