Writing a Good Paragraph
Paragraphs are like the building blocks of any piece of writing. They vary significantly in length. A single line can also be called a paragraph depending on the need, context, and audience. A single paragraph may also fill an entire page which happens mostly in academic and scientific papers. Despite the paragraph length, the primary goal of the paragraph remains supporting a single idea. When your idea changes your paragraph also changes. You can talk short or talk ample about the topic and can even split one into multiple paragraphs but never a paragraph should contain more than one topic in itself.
When thinking of paragraphs, you may have a few questions in your mind like:
- What should I include in a paragraph?
- How should it be structured?
- What should be the ideal length?
- How do we know if our paragraph is good enough?
Now, we are going to take a closer look at these questions and answer them one by one.
What to include: Your paragraph must illustrate one single idea; place a strong argument for or against the idea, state how that idea related with your article topic, possibily give examples or evidences in the support of your arguments, and conclude if required. Does this sound difficult? Let me simplify it. Let us take a simple topic of life and let us say how we can construct a paragraph for it using the inclusions mentioned above. Let’s say the topic is “Our life can be simplified!”
Idea: Life is simple when we have fewer expectations (your core idea)
Relation to topic: A simple and uncomplicated life is what we deserve but often when expectations creep in, we end up losing our own life streak. (how the idea talks of life)
For argument: Expectations when not fulfilled can lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction and as this feeling grows, a person starts to feel lonely and depressed. What if you had no expectations from life, from others, and even yourself? What if you just lived the life the way it is? (Supporting idea)
Against argument: But is it even possible to not have expectations? Our mind is built to think and to make predictions that lead to some expectations, both knowingly and unknowingly. (Negating idea)
Evidences: Even if we decide to not have any expectations from others, the others would have expectations from us and in an attempt to fulfil their expectations; we will end up having similar expectations from us. So, can expectations be really eliminated? (Evidence of the negative view).
Conclusion: So, the question remains what should we do with expectations – eliminate them or deal with them?
Now read all the sentences in a sequence as a single paragraph. Remember that you do not necessary make clear and separate sentences for covering everything. You have combinations and divisions but ultimately, your paragraph should contain them.
Structure: You need to have all sentences juggling around only your core idea and they should be knit in a logical way such that they connect with each other smoothly. Let us extend our example above. When you read it, the sequence was quite logical but what if we change the sequence of sentences in the paragraph below:
A simple and uncomplicated life is what we deserve but often when expectations creep in, we end up losing our own life streak. Life is simple when we have fewer expectations. Even if we decide to not have any expectations from others, the others would have expectations from us and in an attempt to fulfil their expectations; we will end up having similar expectations from us. So, can expectations be really eliminated? Is it even possible to not have expectations? The question remains what should we do with expectations – eliminate them or deal with them? Our mind is built to think and to make predictions that lead to some expectations, both knowingly and unknowingly. Expectations when not fulfilled can lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction and as this feeling grows, a person starts to feel lonely and depressed. What if you had no expectations from life, from others, and even yourself? What if you just lived the life the way it is?
We have not changed sentences. We have not changed the meaning but do the paragraph above look logically structured? You can read it and will even understand it but while reading, you will feel the logical disconnect. May be you would find it difficult to point out any mistake and find out what is wrong but your mind will still know that something is wrong.
Length: Length can vary to any degree as long as you have covered all the essentials discussed above. Even if you miss them and split paragraph, it is still correct. So, how do we decide what length would be ideal? Let’s state some ground rules:
- A creative idea needs more highlighting so smaller paragraphs may be preferred
- Ideally, a five sentences paragraph would suit most needs of any content assignment
- A complex or technical topic needs illustrations and explanations that can increase a paragraph length
- When you are talking of a topic related to people or anything that needs supporting evidences, you have a choice to include evidences in the paragraph or add them in a new paragraph. So, you can be flexible about the paragraph length.
- If you are going to talk about a new idea at length, small or big, you have to change the paragraph
A good paragraph: How do we know if it is good? Read the paragraph below:
Now, think of a situation where you are at home or on a vacation and suddenly you got an urgent work. Your mind was used to staying in formal settings at work but when the work is demanded in the personal setting, the mind does not feel comfortable. You may also feel a little awkward the first time you try Friday casual dressing in the office or go to the house of your boss. Similarly, if you are made to wear formal clothes at home because some guests are coming, you would again not feel comfortable. The core tendency of our mind is to resist change because it dislikes this discomfort which is caused as we move out of the status quo.
And answer these questions:
- Does it state the core idea clearly? Mind does not feel comfortable when deviating from status quo
- Are all sentences logically connected? Core idea stated and supported followed by evidences in the form of examples.
- Am I able to make a good sense of it at a single read? Conclusions says it all
In conclusion, your paragraph must have one core idea explained with arguments and their supporting evidences using sentences that are connected logically.