Monday, April 24, 2023

How to Write Well-Ordered Paragraphs

 A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.

William Strunk, Jr.

The Point of a Paragraph

When a paragraph is written well it's like stepping stones for the reader, gently guiding them through thoughts and new ideas. 

Each point is there to help the reader focus on a new idea and thought that the writer has.  Creating a simple rhythm through each breath the reader takes reading the text.  Helping them to focus and concentrate.

The Essentials of Paragraph Structure

Before we start looking at how a paragraph is structured let's look at what a paragraph is.

Paragraph Definition

a short part of a text, consisting of at least one sentence and beginning on a new line. It usually deals with a single event, description, idea, etc. 

Cambridge Dictionary.

Now that we understand what a paragraph is, let's look the structure of a paragraph.

Sections of a Paragraph

Not unlike other writing forms, a paragraph will always have a beginning, middle and end.  Which can be split into three parts:

Topic sentence

The topic sentence introduces the main idea of the paragraph as is known as "paragraph leaders".  Preparing the audience for what is ahead.

Supporting sentence

This is the main body of a paragraph, it elaborates and explains the ideas and opinions offered to the reader.  The reader will usually find opinion, evidence and other statements to support the text.

Closing sentence

This is the summary and final conclusion, and may be supported with extra evidence to the main body paragraph.

How Many Sentences are in a Paragraph?

The majority of paragraphs contain between three and five sentences, but that depends on what kind of paragraph it is.

Length of a paragraph can be based on the style of the writer, some writers prefer a lot of explanation, others prefer a shorter to the point style.

Let's take a look at the most commonly used paragraphs.


As the title suggests, descriptives can be more commonly found in fiction writing.  Or may be a single topic that demands more attention to a person or environment.


Narrative paragraphs clarify an event or action taking place.  More information is given with each sentence.


Persuasive paragraphs tend to focus on a particular point the writer is making using opinion instead of fact.


Largely used in nonfiction and essay writing focus on a single point or idea.

Here are some of literature's greatest paragraph openings:

You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly - Tom's Aunt Polly, she is - and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain).

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.  A Farewell To Arms (Ernest Hemingway).

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.  A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens).


Ideas are merged into one and make up the simple structure of a paragraph.  This is done using the same arrangement used in essay writing.  All of the writer's facts and arguments are organised to help the reader understand the message.  A paragraph should be composed around a single idea which is consistent within the text, and include sentence transitions in order to achieve a high level of writing.

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