Essay Development: Writing Review Study Guide (page 3)

Updated on Aug 25, 2011

Organizing Paragraphs

Each paragraph of your essay should have a clear topic sentence as the first sentence. Every other sentence should relate back to that topic sentence. It interrupts the flow and the clarity of your essay when there are sentences that seem like they're stuck in the wrong place. Imagine the reader cruising along down the road of your essay and—pop!—a pothole! Now, maybe the reader has a flat tire and has to pull over to the shoulder and assess the problem. Sounds like a bummer, huh? That's why flow is so important.

Where to Break

Sometimes it can be tricky trying to decide when to start a new paragraph. Well, each paragraph should contain its own topic, so the rule is new topic, new paragraph. When you're reading back over your essay and find that a paragraph seems to be quite long, maybe it's really two smaller topics that could be broken up into two separate paragraphs.

Let's Recap

All this important information will enable you to construct your essay, using your outline as a guide. It is essential to know the basic parts of an essay: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. First, remember that the introduction is the hook that draws the reader in. You don't want your reader to get stuck in the introduction and not continue on to the body of your paper. Make your introduction clear and interesting, and be sure that you have a well-defined thesis statement so that there's no confusion as to what you will write about in the rest of your essay. Take a stand. Make your point. Tell people what you're about to tell them.

Next is the body of your essay. Generally speaking, you should have at least one paragraph for every piece of support you've gathered for your thesis. Each of these paragraphs should be a mini essay on its own, in the sense that it should discuss only one piece of support and begin with a topic sentence that introduces that support. Of course, each paragraph should also relate directly back to the thesis statement. After reading each paragraph, your reader should be able to say, "Hey, so that's why the thesis is true." Also, as you write, keep in mind the two different kinds of paragraphs. Deductive paragraphs begin with the topic sentence, and inductive paragraphs end with it. Although you'll primarily be using deductive paragraphs because they're much more straightforward and interesting, it's helpful to keep the difference between the two types in mind.

Finally, you will conclude. At this point, you don't want to leave your reader hanging. You want to wrap everything up nicely at the end and remind the reader why your essay was so important to read. Your conclusion should restate your thesis without being repetitive. It should also leave the reader with a little something to think about, whether it be how your topic relates to some larger issue or how it's the very first time anyone has ever discussed the topic. If your essay is a movie and the introduction is the preview, then your conclusion is the nicely wrapped-up happy ending that gives the viewer a good feeling or maybe even something to talk about over dinner.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Essay Development: Writing Review Practice Exercises.

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