Avoid These Mistakes – Paragraph Writing

Avoid These Mistakes – Paragraph Writing

Do not announce.

Do not announce what you are going to write about. In other words, avoid phrases like “This paragraph is going to be about” and “I am going to tell you about.” 

When writing an academic paragraph, begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence does not always need to be the first sentence, but it is helpful for beginning writers to put it in early. It gives the writer a focal point, and it provides the reader with some guidance as well.

For example, if you are going to be writing about climate change and how it is the primary talking point of the election, do not begin by saying the following: “This paragraph talks about how climate change is the primary talking point of the election.”

Instead, begin with your topic sentence: “Climate change is the primary talking point of the election.”

Do not make your topic sentence too broad.

If your topic sentence is too broad, you have too many points that need to be covered in just one paragraph. A paragraph is relatively short and should be about one main idea. A broad topic sentence is not informative and can be detrimental to the writer’s message. With a very broad topic, there is no message.

Example: Music changes people’s lives.

This topic sentence is far too broad. What kind of music? How does it change people’s lives? All people – or will you be discussing a certain group or category of people?

Do not make your topic sentence too narrow.

NarrowThis is the opposite problem. If your topic sentence is too narrow, you will have very little to write about, limiting your ability to provide enough substance to even create a paragraph.

Example:  My family owns a cabin in Vermont.

While this might be a fact, it is not a great topic sentence. Statements of fact, in general, do not make excellent topic sentences.  If you are writing about Vermont, we need something more. If you are writing about types of cabins, we need more. If you are writing about camping, we need more.  Well, you get my drift.

Do not ramble.

Be focused and specific when writing your supporting sentences. All of the supports should say something about the topic sentence. If they don’t, they either don’t belong, or the topic sentence needs some adjustment. There are, of course, a variety of ways in which to prove your point or explain your position. The idea is to expand upon and explore the topic provided to the reader.

Keep the topic sentence in mind, and you are less likely to wander aimlessly. Ask yourself if the next sentence ties into the topic and the other supports or leads you toward the conclusion.

To add volume, provide examples, quotations, statistics, relevant anecdotes (be careful with this one), or facts.

Whenever you write, you want to ensure that your content is relevant and meaningful.

Above all, have fun writing! Enjoy the process, and engage yourself with your message. If it works for you, it will entertain and inform others.

Don’t forget to check out the new book Teach Myself? Teach Myself!

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