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Paragraph Panorama - Sample Lesson
Elaine Ernst Schneider
May 29, 2002
We have studied the requirements for a good paragraph. And you’ve written some good ones! Now let’s consider a total paper – more than one paragraph! Just as thoughts should “flow” from one sentence to the next in a single paragraph, a paper – whether a story, article, essay, or poem – should “flow” from one paragraph to the next. The reader doesn’t want to feel “jolted” from one basic subject to another. There must be a relationship between paragraphs.
When you write a paper of several paragraphs, you must first decide in what order you wish to address the different subjects. In Lesson 3, I selected the topic: A Butterfly’s Life Cycle. Then I divided the information I wished to cover in my writing into four groups: egg stage, larva stage, pupa stage, and adult stage. Those will represent four paragraphs. In Lesson 5, I began webbing an outline. I added an introduction and a conclusion, making my paper six paragraphs total. Certainly this topic lends itself to chronological order (see Lesson 7), beginning with the introduction and ending with the conclusion. The order of my paragraphs will be introduction, egg stage, larva stage, pupa stage, adult stage, and conclusion.
Before I write the paper, I will, of course, answer all the questions and research all the topics I wrote under my group headings in Lesson 3 and add them to the web I began in Lesson 4. Once this has been completed, I will begin my paper with a strong introduction that will give the reader an overall view of the topic. I must be sure to mention the egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages in my introduction paragraph. Next, I’ll want to explain the egg cycle. A way to transition from the introduction to the next paragraph is to close my first paragraph with a sentence or two that makes mention of the egg or egg cycle that I will be discussing in the next paragraph:
The beginning of the butterfly’s life cycle is much like the reproductive genesis of many other living organisms, plant and animal alike. The butterfly begins as an egg.
This sentence ends the introduction paragraph and leads me easily into the next paragraph, which will be dedicated to the egg stage. All the information about the egg stage that I have uncovered in my research will be revealed to the reader in this paragraph. I will go back to my web for the results of my research. Perhaps my paragraph will read something like this:
Butterflies lay eggs in the spring. The number of eggs laid by the female varies from less than one hundred to several thousands, depending on the species. Once the larva develops, the caterpillar bites his way out of the egg.
Notice that the last sentence makes reference to the larva and the caterpillar as the same thing. Since the next paragraph will discuss the larva stage, this sentence already makes the transition. I won’t need to add or change a thing.
Specific transitional words can aid the writer in making paragraph changes. Some of these words include: first, then, meanwhile, later, afterward, and finally. While these are valuable tools, don’t rely totally on them to make transitions. Mentioning a key word or phrase in the last sentence of a paragraph that will be mentioned in the next one (as I have done in these examples) is a much stronger way to transition.
Take care that your final paragraph includes a “clincher” sentence that wraps up and summarizes the main points of the paper.
Part 2: Once I have edited your rough draft, I will send it back to you. Please look over the comments that I write in and – just like working with an editor – use the comments to make corrections and do “re-writes.” Then send your final draft to me.
At the completion of Lesson 8’s final draft assignment, I will send you a Certificate of Completion for Hands-on Writing I – Paragraph Panorama. Be sure to send me a snail mail address to which I can mail this certificate.
I do hope that Paragraph Panorama has been a fulfilling learning experience for you and that you will consider enrolling for other courses in The Hands-on Writing series including The Elements of Style and What If?
Elements of Style (Hands-on Writing II) introduces intermediate
writing tools by utilizing the Strunk and White book by the same title.
(The Elements of Style - $7.95 – available at:
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