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© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar1 Writing Paragraphs
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar2 REVISING FOR PARAGRAPH UNITY Read the following paragraph carefully. Find the main idea, state it in a single sentence (topic sentence). Revise the paragraph to support that idea. Omit irrelevant details. Rearrange and condense material as necessary.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar3 SAMPLE PARAGRAPH #1 Now 97, Margaret Prescott remembers that the friends she made in her childhood were people who lived within two or three blocks of her house, and that was it. Today, we visit people who live 10-100 miles from where we are located on a daily basis with no problem. She remembers when McKinley was shot in the third grade; the newsboys who ran through the streets shouting “Extra! Extra! Extra!” she went to Mt Holyoke College in south Hadley, Massachusetts. Getting to the college was a chore: “To get to South Hadley you had to get yourself to Boston by train, transfer stations, catch the train for Springfield, take a trolley car to the nearest town, which was Holyoke, and then get from there to South Hadley by horse and wagon and unload your bags. Once you were there you were lucky if you got to go home for Thanksgiving.” Her husband worked for a family-owned firm which was a blacksmith shop. They made steel rims which would go around wooden spoked wheels on horse-drawn carriages and some other various parts. Then, as cars came with time, they made custom parts and did interior work. The first car they ever had was made by Ford and was called a “Falcon Night”; it was made in 1919 and had fold-out rumble seats in the back.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar4 REVISED FOR UNITY Listening to Margaret Prescott, 97, it becomes apparent that she lived through the evolution of transportation in America. Although we think nothing of visiting people who live 100 miles away, she remembers that in her childhood, the only friends her family made lived within two or three blocks of her house, and that was it. Later, when she went to college (Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, Massachusetts) she found getting there a chore: “To get to South Hadley you had to get yourself to Boston by train, transfer stations, catch the train for Springfield, take a trolley car to the nearest town, which was Holyoke, and then get from there to South Hadley by horse and wagon and unload your bags. Once you were there you were lucky if you got to go home for Thanksgiving.” When she married, her husband worked for a family- owned blacksmith shop which made steel rims for the wooden-spoked wheels on horse-drawn carriages. When cars came, the shop switched to custom parts and interior work. The first car she and her husband ever had was a “Falcon Night,” made by Ford in 1919; it came complete with fold-out rumble seats in back.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar5 REVISING FOR COHERENT SPATIAL ARRANGEMENT Descriptions are easier to follow when organized according to a coherent spatial order: top to bottom, left to right, inside to outside, and so on. Revise the following paragraph. Place sentences in a coherent spatial arrangement so your reader can stay located.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar6 SAMPLE PARAGRAPH #2 Everything about the family home in Fairfield, Connecticut, reminds me of my heritage. Its attributes include various steep swirling staircases, a trap door, and several small compartments. The great stone wall surrounding the house, with no mortar to hold the stones together, was placed there by my ancestors. The cast-iron fireplaces have special areas for baking bread. The massive front door has a character of its own and breaks up the monotony of the thick windows. The uneven floor consists of long wooden planks, sagging because the foundation (the original) has settled unevenly. As a child, I loved to hide in the secret compartments just as my grandmother must have. The high, decorative ceiling creates a feeling of airiness. Above the door is an elaborate stained-glass window shaped in a half-circle. The door’s two sections open separately; the upper section sports an antique brass eagle knocker. The stone wall, though authentic, also had a practical purpose: the rocks were left behind by glaciers and the wall was a convenient way to get rid of them.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar7 REVISED FOR SPATIAL ARRANGEMENT Everything about the family home in Fairfield, Connecticut, reminds me of my heritage. The great stone wall surrounding the house, with no mortar to hold the stones together, was placed there by my ancestors. The wall, however picturesque, also served a practical purpose: it made a convenient way to get rid of the rocks left behind by glaciers. Looking beyond the wall to the house itself, one sees the monotony of the thick windows broken up by an immense door with a character of its own. Its two sections open separately; the upper section sports an antique brass eagle knocker. Above the door is an elaborate stained- glass window shaped in a half-circle. Stepping inside the house one immediately notices the floor of long, wooden planks whose unevenness makes the house seem unbalanced. The foundation - the original foundation - has settled unevenly. The cast-iron fireplaces have special areas for baking bread. The high, decorative ceiling creates a feeling of airiness. Other attributes include various steep swirling staircases, a trap door, and several small compartments. As a child I found these compartments a place of refuge - just as my grandmother probably had.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar8 REVISING FOR COHERENCE: CLIMACTIC ARRANGEMENT Paragraphs can often be made more coherent and more emphatic by arranging details or examples in order of increasing importance - saving the best for last. Revise the following paragraph. Position the sentences and parts of sentences in climactic order.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar9 SAMPLE PARAGRAPH #3 Parents should spend more time providing their children with guidance and assistance, as opposed to punishment and criticism. Part of ensuring a child’s mental and physical well-being is letting her know she is loved for what she is. But parents all too often place conditions on their love. Children learn to understand that they will be loved only if they get good grades. A “B” grade may be all right, but we’ll love you more if you get an “A.” As Kathie Durbin points out in her article “Grappling with Grades,” children are an investment in time. Knowing the child and her abilities and limitations takes time and care. That means time spent just talking about anything that’s important in the child’s eyes. It means time spent together learning “for fun.” And it means time at the library and at home reading together. These are the things that can motivate a child, i.e., mold a child’s positive attitude toward learning at an early age.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar10 REVISED FOR CLIMACTIC ARRANGEMENT Part of motivating a child is letting her know she is loved for who she is. All too often parents place conditions on their love: a “B” grade may be all right, but we’ll love you more if you get an “A.” Children learn that they will be loved only if they get good grades. As Kathie Durbin points out in her article “Grappling with Grades,” children are an investment in time. Knowing the child - abilities, limitations and all - takes time and care: time at the library and at home reading together, time spent together learning “for fun,” time spent just talking about anything that’s important to the child, time providing guidance and assistance as opposed to punishment and criticism. These are the things that can motivate a child to learn.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar11 REVISING PATTERNS OF DEVELOPMENT: COMPARISON AND CONTRAST Comparison (which usually implies contrast) is a strategy of development that allows you to emphasize your point by inviting the reader to see how it is like (or unlike) something he or she is familiar with. Revise the following paragraph, strengthening the point by introducing comparison to the roles expected of boys.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar12 SAMPLE PARAGRAPH #4 Sex role stereotyping begins in early infancy and develops into outright discrimination by the age of puberty. Right from birth, certain prejudices and preconceptions are telegraphed to girls. Girl babies are coddled and cooed over. Toys are also chosen with specific connotations in mind. Girls get Barbie dolls, tea sets, nurse’s kits, mini-stoves. Later they go to ballet classes, piano lessons, and bake brownies with mom. Girls are isolated at home and learn to fear the world at large.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar13 REVISED TO INTRODUCE COMPARISON Sex role stereotyping begins in infancy and develops into outright discrimination by the age of puberty. Right from birth, boys and girls are treated differently; different prejudices and preconceptions are telegraphed to them. Boy babies are hoisted and roughhoused, girls are coddled and cooed over. Toys are also chosen with specific connotations in mind. Boys receive do-it-yourself kits, chemistry labs, baseballs, model ships. Girls get Barbie dolls, tea sets, nurse’s kits, mini-stoves. Later, boys ski, camp and play football with dad. Girls go to ballet classes, take piano lessons, and bake brownies with mom. Whereas boys are taught about organization and are exposed to social contacts, girls are isolated at home and learn to fear the world at large.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar14 REVISING FOR DEVELOPMENT: CAUSE AND EFFECT When you find yourself trying to explain why something happened, or happens, you are probably thinking about cause and effect relationships. Recognizing that you are doing so may help you to sharpen the focus of an otherwise sprawling paragraph. Revise the following paragraph, emphasizing the various causes of the American tendency to take sports seriously.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar15 SAMPLE PARAGRAPH #5 One might ask: why are people so serious about sports? The answers to this question could be many. For one, people can release their aggressions through sports. Kicking a ball, hitting it with a bat, punching another man in the face can feel good for both participants and spectators. Just think, one man can get in a boxing ring with another and beat him up and it’s perfectly all right. All right, people love to see it. They cheer them on, ”Yeah, Ali, get him on the left, the left. Ah, he’s down, he’s down!” Some people make bets on the game. If they win, great, but think of the risk people are willing to take on a boxing match or a horse race. Sports can be healthy. It’s good exercise, and again a good way to get out some aggressions, it’s legal, you can almost always find someone else who wants to play. Sometimes I think sports can be political. When judges announce the score in Olympic games, why is it certain countries that are allies will give the same scores to a country they are not friendly with? Americans are always more aware of U.S. against U.S.S.R. than U.S. against Canada.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar16 REVISED TO EMPHASIZE CAUSE AND EFFECT Why do Americans take sports so seriously? No doubt, there are many reasons. Sports are legal, for one, and they provide good exercise. People can release their aggressions through sports: kicking a ball, hitting it with a bat, punching an opponent in the face. Those who do not participate in sports themselves can indulge their aggressive appetites vicariously. They cheer as one man beats up another in the ring; they may become even more involved by placing bets. When the Olympics roll around, rooting for the home team may even take on political overtones. Few get as excited watching the American team play against Canada as they do when Russia is the opponent. Even the judges reflect this partisanship, giving higher scores to athletes from their allies’ countries. Why take sports seriously? Because the nation’s pride is at stake.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar17 INTRODUCTORY STRATEGIES: SOME GUIDELINES FOR INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS Provide relevant background information. Tell a brief interesting story or anecdote. Give a pertinent statistic or statistics. Ask one or more provocative questions. Use an appropriate quotation. Make a useful analogy. Define a term used throughout the essay. CAUTION: Don’t open with a dictionary definition of a term your audience already knows the meaning of - unless you intend to disagree with the dictionary.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar18 AVOID THESE IN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPHS Stating the obvious: –“In this paper I will discuss the causes of falling oil prices.” –“My assignment is to discuss Hamlet’s indecision.” Apologizing: “I’m not sure I’m right, but here is my opinion.” Clichés: “Haste makes waste,” “War is hell,” etc.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar19 CONCLUDING STRATEGIES: SOME GUIDELINES Use the devices suggested for introductory paragraphs; avoid using the same device in the introduction and the conclusion. Summarize the main points of the essay. Call for awareness and/or action. Point to the future.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar20 WHAT TO AVOID IN CONCLUDING PARAGRAPHS Avoid going off track: Don’t introduce a new idea or fact that belongs in the body of the essay. Avoid rewording the introduction: If the two parts of your essay are interchangeable, you need to revise. Avoid announcing what you have done: e.g., “In this paper I have tried to show the main causes for…” Avoid making absolute claims: “This proves that…” Use “This seems to prove that…” Avoid logical fallacies: Conclusions are vulnerable to errors in reasoning. Avoid apologizing: This casts doubt on your material. e.g. “Even though I am not an expert…” Be positive.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar21 HENRI ROUSSEAU’S SLEEPING GYPSY
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar22 SPRINGBOARD FOR WRITING: DRAFTING AND REVISING PARAGRAPHS As you look at his striking image by the French primitive painter, Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), what is your first impression about the mood or feeling the painting conveys?
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar23 PLANNING AND SHAPING Study the painting carefully. Quickly jot down a list of details from the painting together with ideas about how those details are related. Include the lighting, colors, shapes, lines, and textures. Re-read your list. Write a sentence that describes the mood this painting conveys.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar24 DRAFTING Write a paragraph in response to the question: “What mood does Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy convey?” Be sure to include the details of the painting that contributed to your impression.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar25 REVISING Imagine that you want to describe the process by which you arrived at your conclusion. Rewrite your paragraph, organizing it chronologically (e.g. “The first thing that struck me about the painting was X, then I noticed Y…” and so on). Save your topic sentence for the end of the paragraph.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar26 REVISING Review your paragraph for: –UNITY: Does every sentence in it relate directly to the topic sentence? –SEQUENCE: Do you stick to chronological order? –COHERENCE: Do you notice any unconnected leaps of thought? If needed, add: transitional markers repetition of key words or pronouns parallel grammatical structure –DEVELOPMENT: Do you provide ample detail? Did you use any imprecise/fuzzy words?
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar27 EDITING Review your paragraph for correctness of sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Make any necessary changes.
© 2003 Prentice Hall wpar28 DISCUSSION Compare the two paragraphs you have written. Discuss the differences with your classmates.
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