Paragraphs

PARAGRAPHS

Paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that is the most general sentence in the paragraph. Everything you talk about in a paragraph must stick to the idea (the point) set forth by the topic sentence.

Check out the following examples:

BAD:

John picked up a part for my truck on the way over to my house today. He’s always doing stuff like that and never seems to keep score like some people do. He helped my sister move once. He’s got the biggest aquarium I’ve ever seen. John’s a good guy.

The most general sentence does not start the paragraph as the topic sentence. What’s the thesis here? Probably, “John’s a good guy.” So that should be the first sentence.

BETTER:

John’s a good guy. John picked up a part for my truck on the way over to my house today. He’s always doing stuff like that and never seems to keep score like some people do. He helped my sister move once. He’s got the biggest aquarium I’ve ever seen.

Better. We’ve got a good topic sentence, but what does,

“He’s got the biggest aquarium I’ve ever seen” have to do with him being a good guy? Nothing, so delete it.

GOOD:

John’s a good guy. John picked up a part for my truck on the way over to my house today. He’s always doing stuff like that and never seems to keep score like some people do. He helped my sister move once.

Now we’ve got a decent paragraph.

Paragraph Assignment:

Rewrite the message below so that it has good sentence flow and good paragraphs. (More than one idea requires more than one paragraph.) Keep all of the ideas. You may work alone, but I would suggest working with a partner on this assignment. Don’t write an opening or closing. Remember, a topic sentence should not be a question–it should be a single simple idea. Proceed in this order:

  1. Sort the sentences into groups. (Each group will become a paragraph.)
  2. Write or find a good topic sentence for each group. (Topic sentences are statements not questions.)
  3. Correct the sentence flow for each sentence. (Eliminate unnecessary words. Several sentences can often be combined into one. Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.   Rewrite sentences so that they are as clear and direct as they can be. You may completely reword an idea but you may not eliminate any ideas from the original.)

Here’s the mess you must sort out:

Listen I have a new product in which you might be interested in. I wanted to talk to you about it as soon as possible. How about giving me a call soon. Anyway this new thing in called a flux atomizer and boy does it work. It can rid a room of all environmental pollutants in about five minut4s if the room is under 2000 square feet. How did those induction forms I had printed for you work out. It seemed like they came out great at this end. I know you needed them quickly and we had to jump through some hoops to get them to you in time. I hope everything worked out. The flux atomizer will cost you less than $120 a piece if you buy a dozen or more and I think you could market them to all the office buildings you service. Man that one place you showed me sure had a funny odor— seems like they could really use it there. Do you need any more of those forms. Like those induction forms or anything? We ought to go fishing again I remember that bass you caught. Man that was a whopper. I did some fishing with Saul this past spring and it wasn’t half as much fun without you. You ought to think about booking a cabin up in Canada this spring. Call me about the Flux Atomizer. I think you could really make some coin on that whole deal. Please find a copy of our latest brochure enclosed. It generates negative ions that attract all the foreign particles in the air to the filter in the atomizer and then you just rinse the filter every week or so.

Grading criteria:

  1. Paragraphing
  2. Sentence flow